The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area(SdCNHA) will premiere a documentary that highlights the settlement of Manassa and surrounding areas. The project is a collaboration between SdCNHA, Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area (NRGNHA) and Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area (MPNHA) and was funded in part by the San Luis Valley Conservation & Connection Initiative (SLVCCI). The premiere two showings at the Manassa Opera House on Friday July 19th from 1pm and 2pm and is free to the public.

The 30 minute video is part of Discovery Road, a documentary series by MPNHA that was created and is produced by James Nelson. Mr. Nelson has been writing and producing documentaries for radio and television for over 30 years. He works as a producer for ABC News and their shows such as Good Morning America, 20/20 and World News Tonight. He also produces stories for international radio shows, covers the Sundance Film Festival and the NBA-Utah Jazz. “My true love is the American West. The stories out west are endless and wonderful. I had never been to the San Luis Valley before we visited to produce this documentary. I will return. The vastness of the valley is only matched by the friendliness and warmth of its people. It is filled with history and a thousand stories waiting to be told.”

The documentary touches on culture, religion and early settlement. It ultimately highlights that it was through shared water practices, natural resource conservation and cooperation between ethnic groups, who were able to overlook cultural, religious and linguistic differences that has led to survival. It talks about acequia irrigation and its vital importance to the early settlement of the region and how the ancient water sharing practice is still the life-blood in some areas today. It traces the heritage of both Mormon settlers and Hispano settlers in the area. It also features sections on Art, Jack Dempsey and Amish settlers.

“I am excited and proud to share our first documentary about settlement in this area of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, as this is where my roots are. It is my hope that this is the first of many documentaries to come about local history, settlements, cultures, and traditions of our unique and treasured heritage area!“ – Julie Chacon, Executive Director Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area.

This is the first time that three Intermountain Region Heritage Areas, from seperate states, have collaborated on a project.

“Collaborating with other heritage areas in the Intermountain Region provides the opportunity to tell stories in a compelling way to help people appreciate the sacrifices and struggles faced by the pioneers as they carved out communities in a harsh, yet spectacular natural environment.” Monte Bona executive director, MPNHA.

This video will be shown at Intermountain Region yearly conference in Denver in August and the Alliance of National Heritage Areas bi-annual conference in Santa Fe this fall. The joint project will highlight the importance of cooperation in our shared past, cooperation between present day community neighbors, and cooperation between National Heritage Areas to strengthen our national story. “The people of these three Heritage Areas have a shared history full of hardships, conflicts and successes. We hope that this project will leave people feeling more connected to each other as settlers, as Americans and as humans. We are all in this journey together.” Katie Dokson, Marketing and Outreach Specialist for the SdCNHA.