Opening of the Archives: Wabanaki Truth and Reconciliation Commission

wabanaki posterOn Monday, April 11, Bowdoin will celebrate the opening of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s archives.

The event begins with a 3 p.m. screening in Beam Classroom of First Light, a short documentary focusing on the removal of children from Wabanaki communities. A discussion will follow with filmmakers Adam Mazo and Ben Pender-Cudlip, and with Maine-Wabanaki REACH co-director Esther Attean.

After the screening and discussion, keynote speaker Dr. Gail Dana-Sacco will present a talk, “Vigilance and Transformation: Reflections of an Indigenous Researcher.”

Dr. Dana-Sacco, Passamaquoddy, earned her Ph.D. in health policy and administration at the Johns Hopkins University, where she remains affiliated with the Center for American Indian Health. Through Wayfinders for Health, she works to improve public health by critically addressing the structural drivers of health inequities and incorporating community knowledge to come up with sustainable solutions.

Almost four years ago, five Wabanaki Chiefs and Maine Governor Paul LePage signed a mandate to launch a Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission was charged with examining Maine’s child welfare practices on Wabanaki people. Its focus was on “truth, healing, and change.” Over the next three years, the commission collected statements from nearly 160 individuals and focus groups. A final report with findings and recommendations for future action was published on June 14, 2015.

At the conclusion of its work, the commission transferred its extensive archives to the Bowdoin College Library’s George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives. The collection includes video, audio, and written statements, and other personal documents contributed by participants. It also includes founding documents, the final report, and administrative and research records.

A website provides online access to all the unrestricted statements in the collection. Researchers interested in consulting other components of the collection may do so by contacting the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives.

The events recognizing the opening of the archives are sponsored by the Bowdoin College Library and the Native American Students Association of Bowdoin College.

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