About Sand Creek Massacre
“On November 29, 1864, 700 soldiers of the Colorado 1st and 3rd Cavalries slaughtered, mutilated, raped, and murdered over 400 (Southern Cheyenne Chief Laird Cometsevah told Filmmaker Donald L. Vasicek that over 400 hundred Cheyenne and Arapaho people were murdered at Sand Creek. He based it on his oral history that was passed down through his family from his great-great grandfather, who survived the Sand Creek Massacre) Cheyenne and Arapaho children, women, elders, and disabled. Originally this act was called “The Battle of Sand Creek.” After a U. S. Congressional Committee interviewed witnesses to the tragedy, the name was changed to “The Sand Creek Massacre.”
According to certain educators, historians, etc., the Sand Creek Massacre was predicated on European immigrants migrated to Cheyenne and Arapaho land, exacerbated by mis-communication, corrupt Indian agents, fear, Territorial Governor John Evans’ political ambitions, and Colonel John Chivington’s desire to be elected to the United States Congress and his hate for the Indian people.
“We’ve used a passive approach to the telling of the brutality at Sand Creek for the purpose of showing the ignorance of utilizing killing as a means to solve problems. Violence always leaves an impact, but the graphicness of the murders, the rapes, the mutilations, even after people were dead, leaves a remarkable imprint on students, parents, and educators. They see an historic reality that motivates them to do more to circumvent violence in the present as a means to solve problems. And that includes fourth graders who viewed the film in an elementary school in Centennial, Colorado who shared their thoughts with me after the screening.”
Donald L. Vasicek, Writer/Filmmaker/Consultant
Navajo Shonie De La Rosa, Writer/Filmmaker
“Bloody Sand Creek Massacre Presented in Sculpture and Film at Atlanta, Georgia’s Booth Museum”
Museum hosts sculptor Craig Bergsgaard and award-winning writer/filmmaker Donald L. Vasicek to share artistic interpretations of 1864 incident
On January 21, 2010, the Booth Museum will host an opening featuring sculptor Craig Bergsgaard and award-winning writer/filmmaker Donald L. Vasicek, two Colorado artists who independently chose to portray the tragic events of an 1864 skirmish between the United States and the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes on Sand Creek near Eads, Colorado.
Bloody Sand Creek
The confrontation, now known as the Sand Creek Massacre, was responsible for the loss of life of over 400 Native Americans, mostly women, small children, mentally- and physically-challenged, and tribal elders. Accounts of the incident reveal that the Cheyenne and Arapaho were unprovoked and virtually unarmed at the time of the attack.
Bergsgaard and Vasicek will be on hand at the Booth Museum for a screening of an abridged version of Vasicek’s film, followed by an unveiling of Bergsgaard’s sculpture Memorare, Sand Creek 1864. Afterward, museum director Seth Hopkins will moderate a panel discussion with the two artists.
Even today, a discussion of Sand Creek yields as many questions as answers. One topic commonly encountered is the controversy inherent in characterizing a United States military battle as a “massacre.” Both artists are circumspect on the issue, freely admitting that their artistic interpretation is an opinion meant to inspire discussion and increased perception.
“My thoughts on Sand Creek are not the final word on the tragedy; it is only one perspective of five differing views I’ve encountered during my research,” says Vasicek. “But however you characterize the events of that day 145 years ago, I hope my film will act as a gateway to conversations about how we as humans can treat each other with greater understanding and respect. We will learn how from the Cheyenne and Arapaho descendants of Sand Creek, who power the film’s story via their oral histories.”
Bergsgaard concurs. “Although I personally find it hard to see Sand Creek as anything but a tremendous wrong perpetrated against the Cheyenne and Arapaho people, my goal is not evangelize,” the sculptor says. “I want my sculpture to increase awareness – and to prevent the further tragedy of forgetting what we have learned as a nation.”
Museum Program Details
Booth Museum Sculpture Unveiling and Panel Discussion with Craig Bergsgaard and Donald L. Vasicek
Thursday, January 21, 2010
7:00 – 8:00 pm
Admission: $10; free to museum members
About the Booth Museum
The Booth Western Art Museum is one of the leading authorities on Western art. Associated with the Smithsonian Institution, this 80,000 square foot Museum opened in August 2003 with main galleries featuring contemporary Western American art. Other galleries feature Civil War art, Presidential portraits and letters, Western movie posters, and Western illustration. Sagebrush Ranch is an interactive gallery where children of all ages can learn about art and Western America.
The Museum’s Special Exhibit Gallery hosts three to five temporary exhibits per year.
About Craig Bergsgaard
Craig Bergsgaard is a self-taught sculptor, who began creating bronzes in 1990 after decades of creating custom handmade furniture. A native of Minnesota, today Craig and his wife JoAnn make their home near the artist enclave of Loveland, Colorado. He also maintains a studio presence annually in Scottsdale from January through March.
Craig has participated in over 100 juried art shows and exhibits, and his work is installed in Castle Rock, Colorado; Fountain Hills, Arizona; Spring Grove, Minnesota; and Rochester, Minnesota.
About Donald l. Vasicek
Donald L. Vasicek, owner of Olympus Films+, LLC, is in the process of securing funds to develop a feature length documentary on the Sand Creek Massacre titled, “Ghosts of Sand Creek” to use as a rollout film to attract studios to make a feature film about the Sand Creek Massacre. The full-length film will be narrated by actor Peter Coyote (“E.T”, “Erin Brokovich”), Academy Award winner Richard Lerner (“A Story of Healing”), director of photography, and five Emmy-award winners have also agreed to work on the project.
Don is a writer, screenwriter, director, producer and actor. His credits include “Warriors of Virtue,” “Die Hard II”, “Faces”, “Father Dowling”, “The Mystery Crash of Flight 1501”, ‘Born to Win.”
Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC
Memorare, Sand Creek 1864 – Craig Bergsgaard
“We Cannot Be Who We Are Not”
“Always keep in mind that the main issue which has led to so many other issues is land. The earth has always been the Cheyenne/Arapaho’s power. As their lands dwindled because of European immigration, their power dwindled. Today, most older, and many younger Native Americans are living without that power. Instead, they are living on reservations that yield little, if any resources. This has reduced Native Americans
to a cross between their native heritage and the incursion of others into their space. Many know little about moving forward, because the past is where all of their power resides, and, it is gone.
“Native Americans are born to roam the earth. Many of their ancestors went where the buffalo went. The buffalo were the source of their existence. In the beginning, the Cheyenne and Arapaho people had 51 million acres of land. They were free. They lived with the elements and they prospered. Today, most conceive themselves as prisoners of a society that has little bearing to who they really are, what they inherited from their ancestors, not too unlike each one of us.
“How can we be who we are not? The answer is, we cannot be who we are not, and until we discover who we are, then live that way, is when we experience the ultimate peace of who we are. It is my belief that most Native Americans are not who the society they live in forces them to be, in order to survive.
“So, if you surround yourself with this attitude, with this approach, with this theme, then, everything else you are being asked about which to understand, will fall into place.”
-Donald L. Vasicek
“Ghosts of Sand Creek”, a two-hour, six episode documentary film about the descendants and ancestors of the Sand Creek Massacre, which occurred on November 29, 1864 in the southeastern Colorado Territory, is in development. Coming on the heels of the award-winning Sand Creek Massacre trailer, the award-winning six and one-half minute documentary and the award-winning 22-minute documentary, that is being distributed by Films Media Group, “Ghosts of Sand Creek” is delving more deeply into the Cheyenne and Arapaho people and how the massacre has stalked them up to the present time.
In “Ghosts of Sand Creek”, Cheyenne descendants of the Sand Creek Massacre will tell their oral histories. These oral histories depict hands on experience their ancestors experienced during their evolution with the United States government. These histories will show how peace treaties from 1825 to 1890 removed the Cheyenne and Arapaho people from their land. Originally having 51 million acres that spread from the Platte River in Wyoming to the Arkansas River in the Colorado Territory east to the Nebraska Plains, and west to the Rocky Mountains, the United States government reduced their land to a few hundred acres each of mostly worthless land for growing crops to sustain native people who had always followed the buffalo.
Betrayal by the United States government, the massacre and the aftermath of it, continues to stalk the Cheyenne and Arapaho people today in their efforts to be paid monies owed to them by the United States government, which numbers into the billions of dollars. Negotiating peace treaties with the Cheyennes without giving the tribes legal representation, land patents, securities, animals, goods and provisions to amend for the outrages against individual Indians of certain bands camped at Sand Creek during the 1864 massacre, tools, equipment, livestock, and training as agreed upon in the treaties and without fulfilling the conditions of these treaties, the government continues to exploit the tribes by prolonging the law suits without being proactive.
The subsequent action of these treaties resulted in the exploitation of these 51 million acres of the tribes’ lands that continues to result in natural gas, ranching, oil, agriculture, lumber, mining, etc. royalties that go
to government and private industries. In return, the tribes have received disease, abject poverty, hunger, alcohol and drug abuse, high unemployment, lack of appropriate housing and health assistance, lack of
education, homelessness, and, for many, not enough resources to even buy toilet paper.
In order to alleviate this betrayal, several law suits have been filed by the tribes against the United States government for repayment to help bring them out of the dire living conditions that plague many of them and to enhance the future for their children and grandchildren to bring them up to speed with all Americans who experience prosperity and abundance, and to preserve their heritage.
“Ghosts of Sand Creek”, principally based on the oral histories of the Cheyenne and Arapaho people, will tell their story so that others can learn of the injustices committed by Americans on America’s native people. In turn, the film will inform and educate others and create awareness so that all Americans will have the opportunity to learn of the present tribes’ dire situation and to become proactive about changing it.
Supported by 15,000 members of the Sand Creek Massacre Descendants’ Trust, all of us are part of carving a new path for these people as well as all American natives.
I am always open to comments, questions, and suggestions as to how to enhance the making of “Ghosts of Sand Creek”, so please contact me at your convenience with your suggestions, comments, and/or questions.
Until the next update, may peace and love be with you.
Donald L. Vasicek
OLYMPUS FILMS+, LLC
“No matter what your problem, the karmic roots of the problem will be
found in past lives.”
Donald L. Vasicek/Olympus Films+, LLC – Cheyenne Edward Harrison
“Documentary to tell Cheyenne and Arapaho story”
by: Brenda Norrell / “Indian Country Today”
DENVER – When the military slaughtered Cheyenne and Arapaho women and children at Sand Creek, they shattered the lives of future generations, the descendants of the few children that survived the massacre 140 years ago.
Don Vasicek, board member of the American Indian Genocide Museum, is producing a new documentary, ”Sand Creek Massacre, A Lesson from American History” (changed to “Ghosts of Sand Creek), that he hopes will allow Cheyenne and Arapaho to dissolve some of the pain. ”They carry their own grieving from Sand Creek. Telling their own stories is their release; they need to talk about it. They need to know that others will hear and learn of their grief.”
The story of the Massacre of Sand Creek is being told from oral history, the descendants of the 5 and 6-year-olds, the little ones who survived.
”This story will be their truth,” Vasicek said.
Today, the racism and oppression that led to the slaughter at Sand Creek is retained in the language of the history books.
”Many white people believe that it was a brilliant military strategy,” Vasicek said of the massacre. ”Then there are the historians and the educators who are always making sure it is accurate.”
The problem, however, remains that 99 percent of the written history of the genocide of American Indians was recorded by white people and written from their perspective.
”The Cheyenne and Arapaho are writing their book, telling their story,” Vasicek said, adding that the time to record these stories is now.
”Once the descendants die, the stories die with them.” History, too, will die with these descendants if it is not recorded.
”American Indian people are the fabric of American history,” Vasicek said. Preserving that fabric will determine how much American history the people will know.
Vasicek, graduate of the Hollywood Film Institute and founder of Olympus films, is shooting a 20-minute version of the film for classroom use (Shot and completed May, 2007, being distributed in North America, Canada, and Asia). The Sand Creek Massacre film project includes a book, classroom
materials, interactive media, study guide and lesson plans.
The 20-minute video provides a range of first-hand information never before recorded. It includes the tracking of a Cheyenne chief’s great grandfather who survived the Sand Creek Massacre, the Battle of Washita, Palo Duro and confinement in a Florida prison for three years.
With Indian actors such as Wes Studi expressing interest in working on the upcoming full-length documentary (major motion picture actor and narrator Peter Coyote came on board in 2008), Vasicek said, ”There is going to be as little interference from white people as possible. I don’t want that interference.”
The American Indian Genocide Museum is now collecting documents, written proof that the grief Cheyenne and Arapaho experience today, is based on facts.
”These are an indictment of what took place. The museum is a way of bringing these atrocities out,” Vasicek said. ”It is my way of taking on the system.”
Speaking of this country’s first people, he said, ”We are their people and they are our people, we need to get together.” The challenge, he said, is carrying this message to Indian youths and to white people so the pain can be shared and dissolved.
So far, funding has been an obstacle. The funding has come out of Vasicek’s own pocket. But, he has a six and one-half minute demonstration video, ”The Sand Creek Massacre”, a mini version of the film that he is proud of.
And he has no regrets that the film project has not attracted wealthy investors who might want to control it. Then, he said, the risk would be ”changing the integrity of the story.”
The sponsor of the Sand Creek Massacre film project is one of integrity, the American Indian Genocide Museum, now being created in Houston, chaired by Paiute elder Steve Melendez.
Among the documents that Vasicek and the American Indian Genocide Museum are exposing are the letters of Captain Silas S. Soule and Lt. Joseph Cramer.
The Massacre of Sand Creek occurred on Nov. 29, 1864, when about 700 Colorado 1st and 3rd Regiment troops and troops from New Mexico, slaughtered more than 150 men, women and children
in southeastern Colorado Territory.
Lt. Captain Silas S. Soule wrote a letter dated Dec. 19, 1864 from Ft. Lyon, to Major Ed Wynkoop, his commanding officer. Soule wrote what he witnessed at Sand Creek: ”… hundreds of women and children were coming towards us and getting on their knees for mercy.”
In a letter dated, Dec. 19, 1863, Fort Lyon, Lt. Joseph Cramer wrote to Major Ed Wynkoop, his commanding officer, a letter about what he witnessed at Sand Creek. Cramer wrote: ”… Dear Major, This is the first opportunity I have had of writing you since the great Indian Massacre, and for a start, I will acknowledge I am ashamed to own I was in it with my Co.
”Col. Chivington came here with the gallant third, known as Chivington Brigade, like a thief in the dark… marched all night up Sand, to the big bend in Sand … and came to Black Kettle’s village of 103 lodges, containing not over 500 all told, 350 of which were women and children … We lost 40 men
wounded, and 10 killed. Not over 250 Indians mostly women and children, and I think not over 200 killed, and not over 75 bucks …”
The letter continued: ”… Black Kettle said when he saw us coming, that he was glad, for it was Major Wynkoop coming to make peace. Left Hand stood with his hands folded across his breast, until he was shot saying, ‘Soldiers no hurt me – soldiers my friends.”’
The letters surfaced about 130 years after the Sand Creek Massacre, in the 1990s. Florence Blunt was going through two stored trunks of a family member, a rancher, who was in the habit of taking supplies to Fort Lyon before and after the Sand Creek Massacre. She found Captain Silas S. Soule’s and Lt. Joseph Cramer’s letters. Blunt’s daughter, Linda Rebek of Evergreen retains possession of the letters.
Article Copyrighted by “Indian Country Today”
Film tells Sand Creek story from tribes’ eyes
By Dennis Huspeni
“The Colorado Springs Gazette”
Don Vasicek’s dream is to document a nightmare of many American Indians. The Centennial filmmaker and writer has worked for the past four years, using his money, to create a documentary on the Sand Creek Massacre.All that work has yielded a 61⁄2-minute demo of the documentary, which will be shown Friday in Castle Rock.He’s found support difficult to come by, as Vasicek freely admits the film’s point of view rests squarely with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians.“This happened 140 years ago,” Vasicek said. “Nevertheless, they carry the grief with them today.”The grief comes from the event’s particularly brutal history.
On Nov. 29, 1864, soldiers from Colorado’s 1st and 3rd Regiments, under the command of Col. John Chivington, attacked a group of Cheyenne and Arapaho at Sand Creek, about 145 miles east of Colorado Springs and 35 miles north of Lamar.“The attack at Sand Creek resulted in the deaths of over 150 Indians, the vast majority being women, children and infants,” according to the National Park Service’s Web site for the Sand Creek historic site. “For the soldiers, losses were much less, with about nine or 10 killed and three dozen wounded.”
The film portrays tribal elders relating “oral histories of what their descendants experienced at Sand Creek,” Vasicek said. After filming in Oklahoma this summer, Vasicek said he formed an emotional bond with the Indians.“I just saw how significant, vital and important this is to the Cheyenne and Arapaho people,” he said. “It’s vital for someone to do something to record those histories.”
Several companies are interested in seeing Vasicek finish the film, he said, including Rocky Mountain PBS and The National Museum of the American Indian-Smithsonian Institution. Cinema Guild International has urged Vasicek to complete a 20-minute version (completed, Click On: Project on the SandCreekMassacre.net home page) for classroom showings.
“It’s time for the Cheyenne-Arapaho people to tell their truth,” he said. “And hopefully it can be educational for young people to learn something about problem-solving in a nonviolent way,” Vasicek said.
~Don Huspeni, firstname.lastname@example.org 2004
Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle
Colonel John M. Chivington
John Evans Colorado TerritorialGovenor1862-1865
Best Native American Film, GOLDEN DROVER AWARD, Archived The At Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, 22-Minute Sand Creek Massacre Documentary Film Available For Purchase At:
Online by typing the item number (37436) or by the title. Here is the link.
http://www.films.com/id/13926/The_Sand_Creek_Massacre_Seven_Hours_that_Changed_American_History.htmFilms Media Group
2572 Brunswick Pike, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
Phone: 609 671 5726 | Fax: 609 671 5772 | Email: Supriya.email@example.com