Philbert plays the role of the trickster incredibly well in "Powwow Highway," so much so that there is no doubt of his role in the film as well as his role amongst the group he is traveling with. He constantly pushes Buddy to question convention and embrace the traditional ways, often telling him to relax and trust the spirits during their quest to free Bonnie. One of my favorite aspects of Philbert's character was his constant references to his car as his "pony" When he swerved the prevent Buddy from killing the spider in the glove box (because it may have been a spirit), he apologizes to Buddy, saying "Sorry that my pony threw ya." Again, at the end of the film when the car goes off the road and Philbert emerges from the wreckage, he says "My pony threw me. And now it's dead." Simply referring to his vehicle in such a way seems to be encouraging Buddy and any Native American's who remember their roots. Even though their pony is now a car, it still serves the same purpose to Philbert and he seems to have the same connection with it that he would with a real horse.
When Philbert went to the junkyard ant told the attendant that he was there because he needed a pony (which he bought with a little cash and a bag of weed), it reminded me of Sherman Alexie's "A Drug Called Tradition." In Thomas' vision, he relates seeing Victor as a noble warrior making an attempt to steal a white man's horse. These two references to modern-day Native Americans needing to get themselves a pony illustrates the important connection that the pony played in their culture, and the void that seems to be left in their lives without such an important piece of tradition.