I decided to write about Sand Creek--about not just what happened there, but about what happened afterwards. I set my novel during the Vietnam War era because so much of that war recalls the Indian Wars of a century before. When Eason Swale goes to Vietnam, he encounters situations—and moral dilemmas—like the one his great-grandfather faced as a cavalryman at what I call Choke Creek. Meanwhile Evie Glauber, the girl who loves him, struggles to reconcile the responsibility her own family bears for what happened at Choke Creek—and its aftermath.
“The past,” Evie learns, “was like a prism, full of glowing facets of light, each one a story, illuminating another angle. Only by listening to them all could she begin to approach the truth.”
I wrote the novel to bring the history of the massacre and its aftermath alive. Included in the book are actual newspaper accounts and letters from the era. The novel has been taught in numerous high schools across the nation for both English and American History. It led me to present at a number of regional and national conferences, including the National Conference of Teachers of English and also, with Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal leaders, at the National Council for the Social Studies.
There is much, I believe, that still needs to be said about the Indian Wars. My hope is that Choke Creek will be one voice in the conversation.