Manataka American Indian Council

Proudly Presents









Doctrine of Discovery – Repudiating the Premise, Reclaiming the Promise

The Maine Wabanaki State Truth and Reconciliation Commission has released an expanded report on the state’s child welfare practices, Beyond the Mandate: Continuing the Conversation. The commission found that current foster care practices continue the cultural annihilation of Native peoples that began in this country when it was founded, and were strengthened through the boarding school movement that began in the 1880s.

A 13-minute documentary, First Light, documents the work of the commission and reflects on some of the damage done by the boarding schools and the current foster care systems that separate Native children from their families and communities.

The commission has recorded and shared its findings that Native children in Maine are even now (in 2000 to 2013) five times more likely to be put into the foster care system than non-native children, and that this practice constitutes continued cultural genocide against the Wabanaki people.

The commissioners reflected what they saw and heard:

“From our perspective, to improve Native child welfare, Maine and the tribes must continue to confront:

Underlying racism still at work in state institutions and the public
Ongoing impact of historical trauma, also known as intergenerational trauma, on Wabanaki people that influences the well-being of individuals and communities

Differing interpretations of tribal sovereignty and jurisdiction that make encounters between the tribes and the state contentious.”

Maine has taken a large step forward and is recognizing the deep and extensive work it will take to turn around the cultural practices of its own foster care system.