Daughter of a Lost Bird

Documentary | Brooke Pepion Swaney

Kendra, a Native adoptee, is a thriving woman who grew up in a loving, upper middle-class white family, and feels no significant loss with the absence of Indigenous culture or family in her life. And yet, as a Blackfeet/Salish woman, director Brooke Swaney could not imagine that Kendra could be content or complete without understanding her heritage. Together, they embark on a seven-year journey featured in the film.

During this journey, Kendra finds her biological mother April Kowalski after being apart for 34 years. April, also an adoptee, is a survivor of abuse, addiction, homelessness, and sex trafficking. Kendra and April must navigate what it means to be native and to belong to a tribe from the outside looking in. DAUGHTER OF A LOST BIRD documents the complex process of finding oneself in the context of a history filled with both trauma and resiliency.

66 minutes

Release: May 5, 2022

Expiration: May 4, 2026

Distributor: America ReFramed

Rights: Six (6) releases over four (4) years beginning 5/5/22;

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


BROOKE PEPION SWANEY (Blackfeet/Salish) is a 2014 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellow and a 2013 Time Warner Fellow through the Sundance Institute. OK BREATHE AURALEE, her NYU graduate thesis film, screened at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and has TV distribution with FNX (First Nations Experience, a PBS affiliate).


JERI RAFTER has worked on feature films and television projects such as WINTER IN THE BLOOD (Alex & Andrew Smith), WINTER LIGHT (Julian Higgins, Oscar Nominee 2015) . . . . AND SO IT GOES (Rob Reiner). Her latest feature film project, BELLA VISTA, premiered in 2014 at the International Rotterdam Film Festival.


KENDRA MYLNECHUK is an actor featured in CHRISTMAS UNDER WRAPS (Hallmark), 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK, THE BLACKLIST (NBC), WINTER IN THE BLOOD and OK BREATHE AURALEE. This is her first time stepping behind the camera.

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.


Program 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.