Racism, Sand Creek & 4th Graders

The Sand Creek Massacre Olympus Films+, LLC Newsletter


Colorado Territorial Governor John Evans
Colorado Territorial Governor John Evans

4th Graders Jolt Filmmaker

My first thoughts when I was invited to screen my film
and answer questions at Federal Heights Elementary School
was that I hoped somehow the message of the film would get
through to the 4th graders who were going to view it. Well,
they certainly put that notion to rest.

Maria: “In my opinion, the Indians were treated badly from the soldiers.”

Valeria: “…The soldiers trapped the Cheyenne, they did not know where to go.”

Aisha: “…The Native Americans were treated unfairly they had a surprise attack on them.”

Kevin: “…Indians thought the whites wanted peace, so they surrendered their weapons to get food.”

Nevaeh: “…The Native Americans put up a white flag and the cavalry still attacked the Indians by surprise…the Native Americans were unprepared and couldn’t fight back.”

Michelle: “I am really disappointed at what the cavalry did to the Indians.”

Jaquelin: “I heard there were two boys that informed all the Indians. Colonel Chivington and the soldiers that attacked the Indians did not get punished. In addition I learned that the Indians who went to camp at Sand Creek raised two flags and thought they would be safer there, but they were wrong. The soldiers ignored it and attacked the Indians anyways. I agree that the soldiers did the wrong thing.”

Perla: “…I don’t think the army should have taken the Indians property because they wouldn’t like the Native Americans taking their property.”

Amiah: “I’ve got another question: Why did the soldiers take the parts of dead Indians they killed?”

Dominick: “…I think that the Native people were mistreated. My first reason is that they surrendered their weapons. Next, the only people at Sand Creek were women, kids and elders. Finally, they were surprised by the attack.”

Bethany: “…I want to say they should not have been attacked because Col. John Chivington thought all Indians were bad.”

Alejandra: “…innocent people died because the soldiers wanted revenge. I think this is very sad that this happened in Colorado.”

Joservis: “…the soldiers snuck up on the Native Americans at Sand Creek. This was a bad thing to do. The Native Americans tried to make peace with the soldiers.”

Lamila: “…the cavalry thought all Indians were bad.”

Lurita: “…the Indians didn’t have their weapons, so they could not fight back.”

Edwin: “In my opinion, the Indians were right because not all the Indians attacked settlers.”

Jonathan: “…all the Indians traded their weapons for food, but instead they were attacked.”

Isaac: “…They got slaughtered because they had no weapons…they scalped the Indians and bragged about it at the fort.”

William: “…the Indians should not have been killed during the massacre or should not have been killed at all!”

The Spark

I felt relaxed when I walked into Federal Heights Elementary School library this past November. There is a certain smell there. It was books. I knew it was books. I grew up with books. I climbed inside of them for protection from the horrors of the outside world where reality meant I had to dodge a compliment of demands on me that didn’t have anything to do with the Edward Stratemeyer’s Frank and Joe Hardy mystery stories, the old newspaper articles about the history of the small town in Nebraska where I grew up, geography books, history books, Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, William Golding, Ray Bradbury, C. S. Lewis, John Steinbeck, Truman Capote books and the list goes on and on and on.

And as I met the teacher who invited me and the 3 other teachers to come show my Sand Creek Massacre documentary film to two 4th grade classes, I looked out over the crowd of people who had gathered in the nicely-lit room. Kids and teachers were settling in to watch the film. It’s a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by young minds that are burgeoning with promise, happiness and intelligence. The teachers sitting to the back of the audience cast shining rays of a genuine interest in their kids. I’ve always had this thing about teachers. I love them. They work so hard, far beyond the regular workday. They teach kids. They provide a launching pad for kids to go out into life and make something of their lives. Anyway, that’s what school teachers did for me as I was growing up and if anything, they are even working harder now with respect to the challenges technology presents them.

So, I said a few words about the Sand Creek Massacre, nodded to the teacher at a computer. She snapped off the lights. She flicked on the film. It became very quiet in the library. I stepped off to the side. While the film played, I observed the audience.

As a filmmaker, you always have that niggling fear that your film is going to bore the audience. But, these 4th graders’ eyes were riveted to the screen. I set out 12 years ago to do exactly what I was doing, informing, educating and creating awareness with respect to racism, particularly for young people. Those of you who have an awareness of ISIL, the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazis and a host of other hate-filled groups in the world can appreciate how vital it is to educate young people with respect to culture, race and religion so that racism and bigotry can be attacked by learning about how being racist can eat away at one’s heart and mind like battery acid until it is reduced to a closed-mind and an empty heart.

19 of these 4th graders sent me letters based on the presentation at their school. Some of the excerpts from those letters are above. Their words exhibit an awareness for what I had always hoped. Their sensibility about racism was far higher than I could have ever thought. Regardless of what is going on in our world today with respect to racism, there are schools, teachers and kids who are raising their perception about racism, and that is good. Hate is an ugly emotion. Knowledge is a beautiful emotion. It guides the direction of a human mind and when kids learn about racism, it can only elevate their intelligence and give them some tools with which to deal with racism in a positive manner.

More On The Sand Creek Massacre

A more detailed breakdown regarding the Sand Creek Massacre and my work making this film is on the sandcreekmassacre.net website should you want to read more about it.

News Bulletin

Bill Tallbull, Cheyenne, of the National Park Service, Indian Affairs and American Culture, has asked me to help them out in a presentation of my film to 300 Northglenn students,
and possibly additional schools to follow. More on this in the future.


Should the occasion present itself and you have an interest, please pass the word that I am actively seeking venues to screen the film and answer questions regarding it. The theme is racism. I recently screened the film before the Centennial Rotary Club. Past venues have been schools, colleges, universities, organizations, groups, corporations, clubs, television, theatrical, etc. My contact information is: dvasicek@earthlink.net. 303-903-2103.

Thank you for your continuing interest and support.

Best Regards,

Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC
The Zen of Writing & Screenwriting


(Purchase DVD at http://www.films.com/ecTitleDetail.aspx?TitleID=13926&r=SR)


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