Amache Ochinee Prowers, a full-blooded member of the Southern Cheyenne Tribe, was an innovative mediator between cultures during Colorado’s early territorial period of the 1860s and 1870s. As an active participant in her family’s cattle-ranching business and a leader in her community, Prowers’ life exemplifies the essential role played by Native American women in shaping our state. She bridged the diverse cultural traditions of the Native American, Euro-American, and Mexican people who resided in Colorado’s southeastern plains.
At the age of 15, Prowers married an American trader and cattleman, John Wesley Prowers in 1861. They were soul mates and equal partners in life and business, and settled in Boggsville in 1867, along the Santa Fe Trail. The couple operated an extensive cattle operation, mercantile business, and hospitality service from their 24-room adobe home that still stands as one of two original buildings at the Boggsville Historic Site in Bent County. They raised ten children, who were educated in both the Native American and Anglo cultures.
Prowers’ desire to bridge cultures is poignant, given that her father, Cheyenne Peace Chief Ochinee (Lone Bear), was murdered in 1864 in the Sand Creek Massacre along with approximately 160 Native Americans, two-thirds of whom were women and children. The massacre was led by Colonel John Chivington and more than 600 troops of the Colorado Volunteer Cavalry sent by Territorial Governor John Evans. Amache was later awarded land as reparations from the federal government for her family’s loss, which she contributed to the Prowers’ cattle operation.
Prowers never forgot the injustices of ethnic genocide. She once publicly turned her back on Col. Chivington at a public meeting, calling him her father’s murderer. She kept a teepee in the backyard to seek respite from the tumultuous changes brought by the American conquest of Indian land and peoples in Colorado.
In the words of Prowers’ biographer, archaeologist Dr. Bonnie Clark, “Amache lived in a time that brought sweeping changes to the region, requiring the creation of a new society. Cultural mediators like Amache built the foundation of the American West.”