Smoke That Travels by Kayla Briet

A young woman explores the preservation and loss of her Native American culture.

What happens when a story is forgotten? That’s the question 20-year-old filmmaker Kayla Briet wanted to answer.

She explores her roots through the teachings of her father, Gary Wis-ki-ge-amatyuk, a descendant of Chief Abram B. Burnett, chief of the Prairie Band Potawatomi tribe during the making and shaping of the United States.

Her family’s lineage is documented in the Library of Congress.

Through music, dance and color, she explores part of her childhood and confronts the fear of her cultural identity fading with time. She hopes the film keeps the memory of her family’s heritage alive and celebrates the beauty of Native American culture.

“Smoke That Travels” took her on a journey for over a year. She met indigenous communities from around the world — from the Sami of Scandinavia, Ainu of Japan and many more — who were all dealing with the same struggle to preserve their language and culture.

“Releasing this out into the world is a moment I will never forget,” she added. “I felt so lucky to hear their stories and less alone.”




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