Kind Hearted Woman is a compelling documentary of Robin Poor Bear and her family’s journey. It recently aired on PBS and exemplifies why we need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the USA (TRC USA). More information at the end of this blog.
Tragic is the legacy wrought by the Indian Residential Boarding School system. Children were torn from their families and traumatized across the United States of America. A courageous group of people in the state of Maine is leading the USA in this matter. They want to open the painful wound, clean it with truth, and heal it with reconciliation. The scar will remain but future generations will not have to bear the burden of suppressed sorrow. We have a responsibility to make the world a better place for them.
The Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) site states:
* The United States government has tried many different ways to solve what they called “the Indian problem” - stealing land, killing off entire tribes by war and disease and by taking Indian children away from their families and communities.
* In the 1800’s, different church groups with the support of the government took Indian children and sent them to boarding schools far away from their communities where they couldn’t speak their own language, wear their own clothes or practice their own religion. They also treated Indian children badly, abusing them physically, emotionally and sexually. Many of these children died. The ones who made it home after years in these schools were not the same as when they left.
* In the 1950’s, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Child Welfare League of America did an experiment where they took hundreds of Indian children from their families to raise them in white homes, thinking it was better for them.
* In Maine, Indian children were taken from their families and placed in white foster homes at a higher rate than most other states.
* In 1978, the federal government passed a law called the Indian Child Welfare Act that gave Indian children more protection and recognized a child’s tribal citizenship is as important as their family relationship. Maine child welfare has been working with Wabanaki tribes to have an improved relationship and to work better with Wabanaki people. A lot of progress has been made, but there are still some problems. This TRC will identify the problems and make suggestions to help fix these problems. (Maine Tribal TRC, 2013)
More details are at www.mainetribaltrc.org Please note that many Boarding schools remained open until the 1980s and many children remain in non-tribal foster care.
Part of the process is community dialogue. You can begin the progression by holding a community event. It will take a lot of audacity and planning to air out the painful truth of the boarding school legacy. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has created an excellent guide for community events at:
I am certain that they would connect you with a mentor in Canada who would be willing to provide guidance for your own community gathering.
Suppressed sorrow statistics were published in the March 21, 2013 and a potential proposal for the TRC USA is posted on March 22, 2013 blog entry.
You are cordially invited to join and advertise our effort -
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the USA will be established to contribute to truth, healing and reconciliation between Native American Indian Nations and the United States of America.
Please JOIN our Facebook page, search for "Petition to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the USA"
Peace be with you.
© 2013 Ima B. Musing