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.
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.
We end this season by revisiting the topic of the Maine Wabanaki State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I speak with former DHHS worker Shawn Yardley about why children are removed from native families at disproportionate rates, and what it’s been like for him, as a white man, to raise three girls with native heritage.
I conclude my conversation with TRC commissioner Sandy White Hawk about how centuries of removing native children from their families has created a pattern of trauma and corresponding struggle that has made ongoing removal of children more likely. She talks about alternative approaches that support families in difficulty and expresses her hopes for the TRC in Maine.
In part two of our series on the TRC, I speak with Maria Girouard, Esther Attean and Stephanie Bailey of Maine Wabanaki REACH. We discuss the process of gathering the untold stories of the many people affected by the longstanding practice of removing native children from their families and their tribes.