(EADS, Colo.) — Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, and National Park Service (NPS) Director Chuck Sams, visited the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site on Wednesday, Oct. 5.

“We must tell this important story in a way to ensure that it never happens again to our people or to any other people,” said Sams.

The leaders were joined by Tribal representatives from the Northern Arapaho Tribe, The Northern Cheyenne Tribe, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera, and other community partners.

The ceremony included the announcement that an additional 3,478 acres were acquired for the site, according to the U.S. Department of Interior. The expansion of the historic site will contribute to one of the most intact shortgrass prairie ecosystems within the National Park system, providing a habitat for a wide range of plants, wildlife, and species of special concern. The acquisition was made possible through funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), with additional funding from Great Outdoors Colorado and the National Park Foundation.

“The newly acquired property will help to protect the historic site and sacred Tribal lands,” said Janet Frederick, Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site Superintendent. “These new parcels include lands listed on the National Register of Historic Places for their significance to the devastating events of Nov. 29, 1864. These lands also have significant archaeological remains of the massacre, including evidence of the village where Cheyenne and Arapaho families were camped, and an intact viewshed that is key to the historical integrity of the National Historic Site.”

According to the U.S. Department of Interior, “On Nov. 29, 1864, U.S. soldiers attacked an encampment of approximately 750 Native people. During the attack, they took shelter in the high banks along Sand Creek. As they fled, many were wounded and killed. Well over half of the 230 dead were women and children.”

The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site was established in 2007, in southeastern Colorado near the Town of Eads. The site preserves lands where the massacre took place and adjacent features critical to the historic cultural landscape.

“More than anything, it’s about protecting the sacred ground for the descendants of those murdered at Sand Creek,” said Bennet.

The Northern and Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes also consider these lands sacred.

“It is our solemn responsibility at the Department of the Interior, as caretakers of America’s national treasures, to tell the story of our nation. The events that took place here forever changed the course of the Northern Cheyenne, Northern Arapaho, and Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes,” said Secretary Haaland. “We will never forget the hundreds of lives that were brutally taken here – men, women, and children murdered in an unprovoked attack. Stories like the Sand Creek Massacre are not easy to tell but it is my duty – our duty – to ensure that they are told. This story is part of America’s story.”