When Philbert McLeod was a young man, he left Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation to fight in Vietnam. The Shoshone elder served as a helicopter gunner in the war, and very nearly didn’t come back. But McLeod had an old beaded charm, passed down to him by an elder, which he believes helped him survive.
McLeod’s story shows the power of Native American artifacts for the people who have made them and passed them down for generations. The film What Was Ours, which premieres on PBS’s Independent Lens today, shows that too many of these artifacts—the material history and culture of these tribes—have been taken from their rightful owners. Watch this exclusive clip from the film, and visit Independent Lens for more information.