There has been some interesting activity going on with respect
to my work with the Sand Creek Massacre. I placed a modified
version of my award-winning Sand Creek Massacre documentary
film on YouTube.com to see what kind of interest it would draw.
Due to its popularity, YouTube.com featured it recently on YouTube for
I’ve also been working with a woman from the Boulder History
Museum who contacted me about a Boulder middle school
class that is making Sand Creek Massacre documentary
films for a class project. This occurred after I read in the Boulder
“Daily Camera” about the class and its project and contacted
her because she had mentioned that there were no
Cheyenne and Arapaho people alive to interview for their
I encouraged her to make certain the kids interviewed
Cheyenne and Arapaho people for their films, after telling
her that there are plenty of Cheyenne and Arapaho people
who are alive and who could share their oral histories about
the Sand Creek Massacre with the kids. The Arapaho’s summer
camp was where Boulder is now. Chief Niwot or Chief Left Hand,
(a canyon northwest of Boulder is named after him),
an Arapaho chief, came out of his lodge at the onset of the
attack at Sand Creek to welcome the soldiers. They shot him. He
began singing his death song. They shot him again and again until
he died, I cautioned that to overlook this could insult the Cheyenne
and Arapaho people.
Ever since I began working on the Sand Creek
project in 2002, I have repeatedly noticed that while researching,
or as a friend of mine calls research these days, “googling”, that
Caucasian media, historians, educators, filmmakers, etc. ignore
telling their stories from the point-of-view of the Cheyenne and
Arapaho people. The Sand Creek Massacre is the Cheyenne
and Arapaho people’s story. They should be telling it.
Shonie De La Rosa, a Navajo filmmaker, and a good friend, and
I recorded on camera, over 50 tapes of Cheyenne and Arapaho
people giving us their oral histories. Southern Cheyenne Chief,
Laird (Whistling Eagle) Cometsevah, a man who passed on recently,
and a man I became to intimately know, a visionary, a chief’s
chief, emphasized this to me and he also emphasized that
Caucasian people could be more effective with Cheyenne and
Arapaho people if they showed respect towards Cheyenne and
Arapaho people and to the land.
I deeply miss him. We bonded through some pretty difficult
days of filming. His wife, Colleen, also passed on, was an
historian and genealogist, and also played an integral role in
helping me with the film, as well as many other Cheyenne
and Arapaho people. They could not stress respect of
people and the land enough to me. So, I want to carry on
their work in my small way. I contributed my film to
the kids so that they can use clips from it for their films.
Making their films will be of tremendous benefit to them as
they evolve in life. They are learning how vital respect is.
They are learning how different Cheyenne and Arapaho
cultures are in comparison to other cultures, particularly
their own. They are learning more and more about how
vital it is to understand that all of us are only parts of the
whole consciousness of humankind, not only certain chosen
people. So, this is something that is exciting and wonderful
as far as I’m concerned.
May is their deadline for the films to be made at which
time I will be the first in line to see their films at the school.
Naropa Institute students are also doing work with respect
to the Sand Creek Massacre. I have been recommended
to them by an educator and historian to help them out.
I have also been contacted by the Northwestern University
Native American and American Indigenous Alliance in
Evanston, Illinois, just outside of Chicago, to work
with them on a documentary film that will show Colorado
Territorial Governor John Evans’ role in the Sand Creek
Massacre. Governor Evans founded Northwestern
University, was a medical doctor, founded a cure for a
plague going on in the 1800’s, was a close friend to
Abraham Lincoln, and Lincoln, the developer he was,
appointed Evans Colorado Territorial Governor to help
Lincoln realize his goal of a transcontinental railroad,
amongst other things. It’s an interesting occurrence, while
Lincoln was working to free the slaves in the South, the
U. S. Department of the Interior, the military, Colonel
John Chivington, U. S. Indian Agent, Samuel Colley,
and Evans, amongst others, were massacring Indians
in the West. What kind of sense does that make? What
kind of logic is that?
Evans was known as the first 19th Century developer.
He disliked the Indians because of their attacks on people
coming across their lands in the Colorado Territory, as
many as 100,000 in 1859 during the Pikes Peak Gold
Rush, were frightening people from coming to the Colorado
Territory. Evans called Indians “pesky”, amongst
other things. The Alliance is investigating how much
money Evans earned from building railroads, on Indian
land, that he donated to Northwestern University. The
story goes on, so I’m meeting with the Alliance to see
how I can put this film together. It is exciting.
With respect to the Sand Creek Massacre, these times
are dynamic. When I put my first Sand Creek Massacre
modified short film on YouTube.com, it was the only
Sand Creek Massacre film on YouTube.com. Now, I
estimate there are 30 or 40, one most poignant was
done by a 14 year-old boy in 1976. Check it out. It is
I am open to comments, questions, and suggestions
regarding the making of the documentary film with
the Alliance. Please don’t hesitate to contact me.
I would like to thank each one of you for sticking by me
through all of these years regarding the Sand Creek
Massacre. So, thank you very much!
Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC
The Zen of Writing