Texas Focus: What Was Ours

Texas Spirit Theater | PG | 79 min. | Documentary

September 28, 2017 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Join the Bullock for a FREE screening and conversation of What Was Ours as part of the Texas Focus film series, a cinematic exploration of the Texas narrative. 

Like millions of indigenous people, many Native American tribes do not control their own material history and culture. For the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes living on the isolated Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, new contact with lost artifacts risks opening old wounds but also offers the possibility for healing. What Was Ours is the story of how a young journalist and a teenage powwow princess, both of the Arapaho tribe, traveled together with a Shoshone elder in search of missing artifacts in the vast archives of Chicago's Field Museum. There they re-discover ancestral objects, setting them on a journey to recover the history that has been lost, while inspiring hope for their community's legacy and heritage preservation.

Please note: RSVPs to this event are currently at capacity. There will be a standby line at the door and if space becomes available, guests in standby will be seated on a first come first served basis.

Event Details

Join the Bullock Museum for a FREE screening and conversation about What Was Ours as part of the Texas Focus film series.

  • Screening includes a 6:00 p.m. welcome reception.
  • Film screening from 7:00 p.m.- 8:30 p.m.
  • Panel discussion following the screening.
  • Entrance for this screening will be at the IMAX lobby doors.

This program is part of the Museum's larger American Indian Heritage Day celebration.

Educators, to receive CPE credit, please email Education@TheStoryofTexas.com

Film Details

Rating: PG
Director: Mat Hames
Executive Producer: Beth Hames
Executive Producer for ITVS: Sally Jo Fifer
Co-Producer: Jordan Dresser
Director of Photography: Wilson Waggoner, David Layton
Runtime: 79 min.
Genre: Documentary
Release year: 2016

About the Film

When Jordan Dresser returned to Wind River after graduating from college, he began working at the casino on the reservation. He was excited when the casino expressed interest in establishing a museum on the premises to tell the stories of the Shoshone and Arapaho, but was surprised to learn the tribes no longer had possession of many of their own artifacts. These objects — drums, pipes, eagle wing fans, medicine bags, weapons, and ceremonial attire — were sold off decades ago and taken far from home, only to be kept in storage, their sacred meanings slowly being lost to time. Most were located in museum collections around the country. Both Jordan and Mikala SunRhodes, a Shoshone high school student interested in her cultural history, wondered, could Wind River get them back?

They pair up with Philbert McLeod, a Shoshone elder and American military veteran whose last trip off the reservation was when he left to fight in Vietnam, where he nearly died. Philbert believes an old beaded charm passed down by an elder helped him survive combat. Reluctant to make the trip at first, he decides to travel with Jordan and Mikala because he and other elders want Wind River’s young people to know who they are and be inspired to bring the artifacts home. But ultimately it may be a local church that holds in its hands the fate of Wind River's sacred objects and tribal dreams of a museum of their own.

About the Filmmaker

Emmy award-winning independent filmmaker Mat Hames is based in Austin, Texas. Mat’s feature documentary, When I Rise, about African American mezzo-soprano and civil rights icon Barbara Conrad, premiered at SXSW and internationally at HotDocs. It was also featured on Independent Lens. After playing in 10 festivals in the US, the UK, and Canada, the film was nominated for an IDA Documentary Award. Prior to When I Rise, Mat directed the 2008 documentary Fighting Goliath for Robert Redford’s Sundance Preserve. It was the official selection of 12 film festivals, awarded the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for Best Documentary Short at the Red Rock Film Festival, and the Golden Sun at the Barcelona Festival Internacional de Cinema del Medi Ambient. In 2006, Mat was knighted by the King of Belgium for drawing attention to the efforts of the Belgian Resistance during World War II in his first PBS film Last Best Hope. Mat's short doc Austin Revealed played as part of the Faces of Austin SXSW Showcase in 2014. He’s the co-founder of Alpheus Media, a film company in Austin, and is on the Board of Directors for Lights, Camera, Help!

About the Panel

Kate Betz, Head of Education at Bullock Museum

Franck Cordes, Curator at Bullock Museum

Jordan Dresser, Co-Producer and member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe

Mat Hames, Filmmaker

About the Texas Spirit Theater and Tickets

The Texas Spirit Theater on the Museum's second floor hosts original film series, artist talks, lectures, live music performances, and daily showings of multi-sensory films.

Museum Members enjoy free unlimited IMAX® documentary films, discounts on feature film tickets, free exhibition admission, discounts in the Museum Store, and more. Learn More.

Learn about ticket prices, refund policies, and parking (free after 5 pm). For evening programs, please enter through the Bullock Museum IMAX Theatre.