At SIFF: Bearing Witness to Stories of ‘Cultural Genocide’

georgina sappier-richardson dawnland movie

To watch the documentary Dawnland is to experience having your stomach clenched in a knot. Native mothers weeping about having their children taken away from them; U.S. government policies stripping Native Americans of their culture; ‘reconciliation’ staffers fully aware of their white privilege but refusing to shelf it as they do cross-cultural work.

It’s all anguishing and infuriating to take in. It also makes Dawnland a powerfully illuminating film — a history lesson that you’re ashamed to have never learned but whose truths you’ll likely never forget.

Filmmakers Adam Mazo and Ben Pender-Cudlip spent five years completing their feature-length documentary about the forced removal of Native American children from their families into White adoptive homes, non-Native foster care and boarding schools. The government’s racist intentions — clinically explained in historic footage included in the film — was to “civilize” Native youngsters. The legacy of such policies can be seen in the continued high rate of Native children in foster care and in the tortured memories of those who wanted to embrace their cultural identity but who were told, sometimes violently, that they must not.

Read the full article by Florangela Davila in Crosscut.

New Paths for Healing: SSW Alumna Brave Heart Draws Delegation from ME

When social worker Esther Attean began working with fellow members of Maine’s Wabanaki communities in the late 1990s, she discovered they lacked a framework for talking about the losses Native Americans have sustained over generations in her state.

“The effects of trauma—feelings of grief, stress, anger and anxiety—were all passed down,” said Attean, who co-directs Maine-Wabanaki REACH, a cross-cultural collaborative that is working to develop better child welfare practices with Native American families. “But a lot of our trauma is still unresolved because it hasn’t been acknowledged.”

Attean and her colleagues at REACH (short for Reconciliation, Engagement, Advocacy, Change, Healing) then learned about the work of Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, who earned a Ph.D. from the Smith College School for Social Work in 1995 and who will be speaking at Smith on Monday, July 27.

TRC Report Asserts Cultural Genocide Practiced in Maine

The Quoddy Tides featured an article detailing the Final Report of the Maine Wabanaki‑State Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), along with the related findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada two weeks earlier. The Maine TRC Commission responded “Thank you to Edward French and The Quoddy Tides staff for continued attention to the work of truth, healing and change.”

A Message of Truth and Love: gkisedtanamoogk

gkisedtanamoogk speaks with words that fly strong and straight; his counsel is needful, timely, and lasting. He serves on the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission. His biography, from his own site:

I have many years experience in ‘creative’ ways to bridge the socio-political polarization of the Indigenous Nations of Turtle Island and the newcomer nation-states of North America. It is a remarkable process still unfolding, but with some encouraging signs. My professional background is in human and community development and my interests include Law, History, and Spirituality. i am Wampanoag from the Federation of the Pokaunauket and practice the Ceremonial Life of my People; i am Otter and Turtle Clan; married with three Children; Education and Cultural Specialist and co-founder of the Anikwom Wholelife Center in Maine whose work and proximity correlates to the Wabanaki Confederacy Territories; i am currently adjunct faculty and Still Water Research Fellow for the University of Maine at Orono.

Native Americans’ Report Reveals History of ‘Cultural Genocide’ in Maine

An article in the Bangor Daily News sums up the final report of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission. The five-member panel “gathered more than 160 statements from 13 focus groups in Maine” in their two years of work. Their final report, presented June 14, 2015, outlined 16 points of concern in summary of their disquieting findings.

Maine Owes the Wabanaki People Sovereignty and Respect; It’s Long Overdue

An op-ed article in the Bangor (ME) Daily News ( June 29, 2015), as a followup to the final report  of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Commission, also referred to as the Maine TRC, presented their complete findings and recommendations on Sunday, June 14.