Recorded on Oct. 1, 2014, this forum explores the recent formation of the Maine Wabanaki–State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission, the first of its kind in the U.S. The commission was formed in response to the long and little-known history of state child welfare programs forcing the assimilation of Native American children into the dominant culture.
Denise Altvater and Esther Attean, members of the Maine Passamaquoddy Tribe and architects of the Maine Wabanaki–State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission, discuss that initiative’s history and prospects.
Joining Altvater and Attean as presenters will be Arla Patch, community engagement coordinator for the Maine-Wabanaki Reconciliation, Engagement, Advocacy, Change and Healing coalition; and Maine artist Robert Shetterly, who will introduce Altvater and Attean. Shetterly included the pair in his portrait series “Americans Who Tell the Truth,” depicting 200 individuals who have addressed issues of social, environmental and economic justice.
Starting in the 1800s, Wabanaki children in Maine were taken by the state from their families and communities and put into boarding schools or foster care to integrate them into the dominant culture. This policy stripped the children of their culture, language, family and community, losses still felt in Maine native communities today.