This week we revisit a 2015 conversation with Sandy White Hawk, one of five commissioners of Maine’s historic Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Sandy is Sicangu Lakota and an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, who was separated from her family and heritage and adopted at 18 months old by a white family. She talks about the trauma of adoption and racism, and about the healing she found by reclaiming her identity.
This week I talk with high school senior Eman, who moved to the US less than a year ago. We talk about how she dealt with leaving her friends and family behind in Sudan and again in Egypt, where she lived for five years. She talks about the uncertainty of being at the mercy of resettlement organizations, and her desire not to be ‘otherized’ in her new home. Eman’s confidence and resilience, which led to her being elected class president only a few months after arriving in this country, are truly inspiring.
This week, in the second half of my conversation with Colby College anthropology professor Catherine Besteman, we talk about the immense challenges that Somali refugees face upon their arrival, and how they are helped through the extraordinary volunteer efforts of their fellow immigrants. We also discuss what the data reveal about whether refugees are a financial burden on the state, and talk about how to address the problem of xenophobia.
On this week’s show, I speak with Colby College anthropology professor Catherine Besteman. She has spent her career studying Somali society, both in Somalia and here in Maine, where many Somalian refugees have begun new lives after escaping civil war at home. Catherine explains the causes of that war and the violence it created, particularly for minority ethnic groups. Her explanation of why Somalis had to flee helps us appreciate that every refugee is dealing with trauma.
This week we conclude our series on the Maine-Wabanaki TRC by visiting a group of non-native allies who are working on how to best respond to the needs that the TRC brought to light. We learn from them why these issues matter to them personally, and the self-reflection and actions they take to make a difference for native people’s rights in Maine.