What Was Ours

What Was Ours

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An Eastern Shoshone Elder and two Northern Arapaho youth living on the Wind River Indian Reservation attempt to learn why thousands of ancestral artifacts are in the darkness of underground archives of museums and churches, boxed away and forgotten. Like millions of indigenous people in many parts of the world, they do not control their own material culture. It is being preserved, locked away, by ‘outsiders’ who themselves do not know what they have.

These beautiful ancestral objects—drums, pipes, eagle wing fans, medicine bags, weapons, and ceremonial attire are far from home, their meaning slowly being lost to time. Should tribes attempt to bring them back? Many want to, including our three main characters. But why do they want them back? What answers do they seek from these artifacts? How can they take control of their own past? Is recovering what’s lost even possible anymore?

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Should tribes like the Shoshone and Arapaho attempt to bring back beautiful ancestral objects—drums, pipes, eagle wing fans, medicine bags, weapons, and ceremonial attire that ar