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.
A conversation with Penthea Burns, co-director of Maine-Wabanaki REACH. She talks about her background in child welfare and the difficulty of deciding whether the benefits of removing a child from abuse outweigh the additional trauma of severing family and community ties. She talks about how her work on these issues in Wabanaki communities has led her to a deeper understanding of her privilege as a non-native person, and how this privilege can undermine the efforts of non-native allies.
This week, a conversation with Jamie Bissonette Lewey of the Maine Indian Tribal State Commission (MITSC). She explains her views on Tribal-State politics, and why she believes that the fundamental issue is the difference between how the state and the tribes understand the concept of sovereignty. She also talks about the history of the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980 and its detrimental effects on the socioeconomic status of the tribes today.
To read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, follow this link: http://www.
This week I talk with George, whose biological parents are Passamaquoddy, but who was adopted at birth and raised by white parents in southern Maine. George describes how it felt to visit the reservation for the first time and meet his biological relatives. He talks about how he has grappled throughout his life with the question of whether he really is Native American.
In part two of my conversation with gkisedtanamoogk, one of the five commissioners of the Maine State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he talks more about the relationship between the government and the Wabanaki tribes. He also describes some of the main concepts of his spiritual worldview, and talks about the central importance of the feminine in Native American culture.