Native Heritage Film Series offers ‘What Was Ours’ film

By Reader Staff

The Idaho Mythweaver, in partnership with the East Bonner County Library District, features a film in this month’s Native Heritage Film Series that is a story of hope and promise — perfect for the Christmas season.

Still from “What Was Ours.” Courtesy image.

Still from “What Was Ours.” Courtesy image.

On Saturday, Dec. 10, together they will screen “What Was Ours,” an award-winning documentary from Alpheus Media and distributed by Vision Maker Media. This award-winning new film — unavailable for public broadcast release until January 2017— was voted best documentary feature at this year’s American Indian Film Festival. It also was selected out of 1,400 entries to screen in the 2016 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana and nominated for both the “Big Sky Award” and “Artistic Vision” award.

Two screenings will take place on Dec. 10 at 12:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. in the Rude Girls Room of the Library’s Sandpoint Branch, 1407 Cedar Street in Sandpoint. The event coincides with Human Rights Day, and is also endorsed by the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force; one of the primary funders of the film series.

Following each screening, Jane Fritz of The Idaho Mythweaver will lead the audience in a discussion of the film. Light refreshments will be served.

The 80-minute documentary film tells the story of an Eastern Shoshone tribal elder and Vietnam veteran, who hasn’t left Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation in over 40 years, and two young Arapaho — a powwow dancer and a journalist — who travel together to visit the underground archives of Chicago’s Field Museum to seek lost, sacred ancestral objects collected from their ancestors long ago, and boxed away and forgotten. They try to learn how these artifacts vanished from their tribe in the first place, and what it might mean for their tribes to repatriate some of their material culture.

The Native Heritage Film Series will continue on Jan. 14 with a double feature that showcases Idaho’s Nez Perce Tribe: “Horse Tribe” that tells the story of how the Nez Perce, once one of America’s legendary horse tribes, brought the appaloosa horse back to their land and lives to help tribal youth. The second short film, “Spirit In Glass,” celebrates the spectacular beadwork cultures of the Columbia River Plateau region.

Additional films will be shown the second Saturday of each month through March 2017. All films are educational and provided by Vision Maker Media, a 40-year-old nonprofit Native media organization that empowers and engages Native peoples to tell their stories in the spirit of healing, understanding and public discourse.  After each monthly screening, a DVD copy of the film will be released into the Library’s circulation for public check-out.

This film series has been generously underwritten by TransEco Services along with grants from the Idaho Humanities Council — a state-based partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities — and the Bonner County Endowment Fund for Human Rights of the Idaho Community Foundation.

The Idaho Mythweaver is a nonprofit educational organization whose mission since 1989 has been to help support the authentic presentation and preservation of cultural traditions of tribal peoples within the context of their relationship to Mother Earth. Its cross-cultural work has promoted Native arts and humanities through educational programs for youth and adults, media productions and social events that best serve the interest of the general public. Contact them at and on Facebook at

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