Big Sky Doc 2016
Tulsa, SF Human Rights, LA Skins, Tribal Film Festival
A small group of Native Americans seek the return of their lost sacred objects.
Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation is home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes. When Jordan, an aspiring Arapaho museum curator, learns that his people’s sacred objects are in the trust of an outside church, or otherwise were long ago sold off to museums, he seeks reconnection with his tribal history. While some elders fear contact with these objects could bring misfortune, Jordan finds an ally in Arapaho high school student Mikala and, eventually, in Philbert, a Shoshone elder who credits his survival of combat in Vietnam to a sacred talisman. Hames follows this intergenerational, inter-tribal group as it travels to Chicago to rediscover their sacred objects with the goal of opening a museum on the reservation. The film feels repetitious and too languidly paced, but is well shot and affecting in its handling of sensitive themes.