On Monday, November 14, Intercultural Student Affairs and the Student Body President’s Office hosted an event in which they streamed “Dawnland,” and “Bounty,” to educate about Indigenous history in the Bailey 10 lecture hall on the Gorham campus. Two guest speakers, Dawn Neptune Adams and Esther Anne, attended the event. Both women were featured in the films. Esther Anne appeared in “Dawnland,” and Adams appeared in both.
“Bounty,” was a ten-minute film that consisted of Penobscot Tribe Native Americans family members from Maine sitting in the old state house in Boston and the Governor’s Chamber, reading over a proclamation from the colonization times. This proclamation made it so the Penobscot people were hunted by white men, and they could get rewarded money for bringing them back to the government. The Penobscot Tribe teaches their kids the importance of their history, and how their ancestors persevered through the difficult times. At the end of the film, they burn the proclamation as an act of defiance and strength for their ancestors.
“Dawnland,” is an hour and a half documentary. This film is about the first ever government sanctioned truth and reconciliation commission in the United States diving into a deep investigation into Maine’s child welfare system, and how it has impacted indigenious communities. The documentary has interviews with many different Native Americans who recount their experiences in the Maine child welfare system. Indigenous children are being taken from their families and are being placed with white foster families so that they can have a “normal childhood.” Although this harms the child’s upbringing and connection to their ancestors and tribe. The film talks a lot about the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which is a law that the entire country has to place Native American children closest to their parents. If a child cannot live with their parents, they must be placed with a relative. If that is not possible, the child must be placed with someone within the tribe, on the reservation. A tribe is considered a third parent, so keeping the child with the tribe would be the next best option. If all of this is not possible, the child is then placed with any family that can be found. There is talk in the Supreme Court about getting rid of ICWA, which could be detrimental to the Native American communities. The documentary suggests helping economically disadvantaged and targeted families attain the standards that they are judged by.
Both films were very eye-opening, and it is important for everyone to learn about the Native American communities and their history. The entire country should be educated about this cultural genocide. Esther Anne and Neptune sat down and answered questions after the film. They discussed what it was like to be in the films, and also dove a little deeper into ICWA and how indigenous communities could be helped by the government. They informed us that although ICWA currently exists, indigenous children are still being taken from their tribe and being placed with white families. Also, if ICWA gets overturned, all of the children will be at risk of being torn away from their parents and their tribe. Esther Anne and Neptune opened up about how they have been impacted by their ancestor’s history and how they hope that equality can be given to the indigenous communities. They also provided sources that can be found to learn and teach more about the indigenous communities and how to be an ally, which starts with learning about their history.
To learn more about the Native American communities and their history, go to www.bounty.org and www.dawnland.org. You can also watch both films through these websites.