The People's Protectors

Documentary | Leya Hale

Four Native American veterans reflect on their experiences in the military during the divisive Vietnam War and how their communities helped them carry their warrior legacy proudly. From the Marine Corps to the Navy to the US Army, veterans Valerie Barber, Art Owen, Sandy White Hawk, Vince Beyl, and civilian eyapaha (announcer) Jerry Dearly recall their memories of one of the most controversial wars in United States history. Even as they struggled with their relationship to the United States government from genocidal policies and government oppression; the Dakota, Lakota, and Ojibwe warriors still felt compelled to honor their duty to their people as Akichita | Ogichidaag | Warriors, as protectors of the people. A lifetime later, these soldiers meet us in the studio as they begin to tell their stories.

57 minutes

Release: May 24, 2019

Expiration: May 23, 2023

Distributor: PBS Plus

NOLA: PEPR 000000

Rights: Six (6) releases over four (4) years beginning 5/24/2019;

SCH/1YR (for K‐12); and non‐commercial cable rights.

Leya Hale

LEYA HALE is from the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota and Diné Nations. She makes her home in Saint Paul, Minnesota with her companion and three children. She works as a Producer for Twin Cities PBS. She is best known for her first feature documentary, The People’s Protectors, a Vision Maker Media grant production and winner of the 2019 Upper Midwest Emmy Award for Best Cultural Documentary.

Shirley Sneve

Executive Producer
SHIRLEY SNEVE was President & CEO of the Tiwahe Foundation located in the Twin Cities of Minnesota from 2019-2020—an American Indian community foundation that provides micro-grants in Minnesota and directs the Oyate Leadership Network. From 2004 until 2019, she was Executive Director of Vision Maker Media, whose mission is to share Native stories with the world that represent the cultures, experiences, and values of American Indians and Alaska Natives through Public Television.

Diana Fraser

Associate Producer
DIANA FRASER is an Emmy-award winning Production Manager at Twin Cities PBS and a freelance producer. A 2018 Minnesota State Arts Board grant recipient, she is currently producing a documentary about queer women’s access to health care. Her freelance portfolio features a Princess Grace Honorarium Award, two feature films, and several festival-recognized short films. When not working Diana likes reading books, building Legos she knows she's going to step on someday, and eating churros.

Walt Pourier

Vice Chair

Walt is Oglala Lakota and created the logo for Urban Rez. He is Creative Director, owner of Nakota Designs Advertising Designs and Graphics. Executive Director of the Stronghold Society nonprofit dedicated to instilling hope and supporting youth movements through Live Life Call To Action Campaigns.


Project Coordinator​

(Hataža Mani Winga)​

"Cinema Aficionado"

Role: Jordana is excited to engage with different Native/Indigenous communities. Her passion for working with youth will help develop the Native Youth Media Project. She will also assist with the Creative Shorts Fellowship (CSF) to help organize deliverables for filmmakers.