Beyond Sand Creek

Beyond Sand Creek: Fort Chambers Virtual Reality Tutorial

Introduction: “The Beyond Sand Creek” virtual reality project adds a digital arts aspect to traditional history – American history, World History – curricula and the arts – Creative Writing, Language Arts, and Visual Arts.

Click on the image of the Fort Chambers marker to open the VR tutorial. was located on the eastern edge of Boulder. It was the training site for Company D of the Colorado Third Volunteer Cavalry. Under the command of Captain David Nichols, 100 soldiers were trained to fight at the Sand Creek Massacre in Southeastern Colorado.

This Virtual Reality tutorial teaches students how to use existing programs to develop VR worlds that immerse students into past and present environments. The pilot tutorial is about the history of Fort Chambers in east Boulder. You can link to the curriculum by opening this link.

The teaching concept was piloted on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. A small grant was received from the Wyoming Arts Council for the Wind River Virtual Reality project. Northern Arapaho students were taught about the importance of traditional tribal stories by two tribal artists.

Here is the link to a documentary about the importance of teaching students about the roles of traditional tribal culture and how to use technology to tell stories using media that are accessible to tribal youth.

They were taught the basic use of VR cameras by Glenn Reese of River Cloud Media. Tribal elder and member of the Eagle Drum Society, Alison Sage, taught the students about traditional singing and drumming. Arapaho artist Robert Martinez taught about the importance of art and its role in traditional storytelling. The four students reinterpretted a traditional story, “The  Fox and the Woodtick. ” with VR technology.

The story was handed down from Chief Yellowcalf to tribal elder Merle Haas who read the story in Arapaho. Watch the VR version by opening this link or the photo below. You can view it in goggles or scroll around the 2-D screen with the mouse.

Link to the The Wind River Virtual Reality Pilot Project by clicking on the photo of tribal elders Gary Collins, storyteller Merle Haas, and Boulder Community Media’s Glenn Reese and Alan O’Hashi

The “Beyond Sand Creek” project takes the Wind River VR project to the next level and integrates the story of Fort Chambers where the Third Colorado Cavalry troops were trained east of Boulder to fight Arapaho and Cheyenne at the Sand Creek Massacre in Southeast Colorado. This technology can be applied to other historical events.

There is a companion documentary entitled, “Beyond Sand Creek: The Covered Wagon Redux.”

It is about the Arapaho tribal efforts to reverse assimilation by teaching traditional culture and undoing negative tribal stereotypes in the Boulder Valley.

The Arapaho are working with public and private officials to return their traditional homeland to the tribe.

To watch the Beyond Heart Mountain documentary, click on the photo of members of the Northern Arapaho Eagle Drum at a recent Indigenous Peoples’ Day even at Boulder High School.

We interviewed several tribal members from Oklahoma and Wyoming over the course of several years to learn their perspectives about racial discrimination that arose from western expansion of settlers occupying tribal land.

The project is funded in part by the Boulder Arts Commission, Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund, Wyoming Arts Council, Wyoming Humanities Council