Thoughts from the Producer, Donald L. Vasicek

When I walk at Sand Creek today, I step carefully.

My size ten and a halves sink into the sand. Where there is grass or plants, Canadian thistle or tamarisk or sage or some other one of the numerous types of grass and plants at Sand Creek, it catches my clod hoppers, just before they sink into the sand.

Stepping beside the gnarled and stately cottonwood trees, roots feel hard under my Reeboks. The roots catch my feet, perhaps, like guardian angels, but yet, possibly parts of human remains. I know not where to take the next step, or how.

I fear that I will step on someone who died here, whose remains are permanent parts of the sand, the grass, and the trees. I wonder if I am walking in the buffalo wallow where this woman died. I step carefully because I feel the people who died here reaching out for me and I can’t see or hear them. I don’t know how to help them. I feel their presence, their fear, their terror, their disbelief, their helplessness to save their children, their husbands and wives, their disabled relatives, their parents and their grandparents.

Just like when I sat on a curb at Ground Zero in Manhattan two weeks after 9/11, I grieve for them. I grieve for myself. I grieve because I am alive and they died agonizing deaths. I grieve because I am helpless to give something to these victims to neutralize their agony, perhaps even, to reverse their deaths.

I turn and scan the horizon. It appears like it is overlooking the Sand Creek Massacre Site. Somehow, it makes me feel better, at the least, for the moment. Then, I have to move forward. I look down and wonder, where should I place my foot next?

~Donald L. Vasicek, Writer/Filmmaker, Olympus Films+, LLC

Witness Account

The Sand Creek Massacre Witness Account:

One Story of Horror At Sand Creek Duncan Kerr, the scout, found the body of One Eye lying near the camp.

“Some of the boys had scalped him, ” Kerr wrote, “but they either did not understand how to take a scalp, or their knives were very dull, for they had commenced to take the scalp off at the top of the head, and torn a strip down to the middle of the neck.”

A short distance beyond, he found One Eye’s wife sitting alone in a buffalo wallow: “I went up to her and laid my hand on her head. She looked up quietly, and recognizing me said; ‘How de do Dunk, me heap dry. Gib me some water.’

I asked in the Cheyenne language, if she was seriously hurt. She replied by throwing the blanket back and showing me aghastly wound in her side, through which the entrails were protruding. The wound must have been caused by a fragment of a shell.  I gave her a drink of water, and left my canteen. As I turned to leave, she took my hand to detain me, and begged me to shoot her with my gun….But I could not do it, for I had known her a long time; a lively, sprightly, mischievous, little thing, that fairly worshipped her Chief One Eye.

This is the squaw that One Eye brought into Ft. Lyon with him and was on our trip after the captives. When she saw I would not kill her she covered up her head and began singing her death song again….I had not gone very far, when I met a soldier.  I pointed her out to him, and told him I had just shot and wounded an Indian and had fired my last shot; that the Indian was badly wounded, and could not help himself, and I wanted him to creep up behind the Indian and shoot him in the back of the head. The fellow crept up close behind her and shot her dead….
-“Sand Creek: Tragedy and Symbol Pt. 1” G.L.Roberts, 1984

Sand Creek
Sand Creek in southeastern Colorado

Sand Creek Massacre Site

 On November 29, 1864, 700 Colorado troops savagely slaughtered over 450 Cheyenne children, disabled, elders, and women in the southeastern Colorado Territory under its protection. This act became known as the Sand Creek Massacre. This film project (“Legends of the Great American West” documentary film project) is an examination of an open wound in the souls of the Cheyenne people as told from their perspective. This project chronicles that horrific 19th century event and its affect on the 21st century struggle for respectful coexistence between white and native plains cultures in the United States of America.