Winner of a 2019 Emmy Award for Outstanding Research, Dawnland offers the untold story of Indigenous child removal in Maine, capturing moments of truth telling and healing among the Wabanki people.
On Wednesday, January 29, The Watertown Free Public Library will offer a screening of this powerful documentary, beginning at 7 p.m. Following the screening, Watertown resident Dr. Mishy Lesser will facilitate a discussion. Dr. Lesser is Learning Director for the Upstander Project and conducted some of the original (award-winning) research for Dawnland locally, at the Watertown Free Public Library.
As recently as the 1970s, one in four Native children nationwide were living in non-Native foster care, adoptive homes, or boarding schools. Many of these children experienced emotional and physical harm by adults who mistreated them and tried to erase their cultural identity. In Maine, the first government-sanctioned truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) in the United States has recently begun a bold journey by investigating the devastating impact of the state’s child welfare practices in the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribal communities. Collectively, these tribes make up the Wabanaki people.
Dawnland follows the progress of the Maine TRC while offering a veritable civics lesson along the way: How did a social problem (state removal of children) lead to a woman-led social movement (of mothers, grandmothers, aunties, and social workers), and contribute to the passage of a federal law(Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978)? Why and how was this Federal law ignored by some states? What are the consequences? Dawnland seeks to answer these questions while looking toward the future, foregrounding the immense challenges that the Maine TRC will face as they work toward truth, reconciliation, and the survival of all Indigenous peoples.
More information about Dawnland, including Dr. Mishy Lesser’s learning guides, is available at dawnland.org. Watertown Free Public Library’s screening event is free and open to all.
Dawnland Screening and Discussion
Wednesday, Jan. 29 | 7 p.m. | Watertown Savings Bank Room
About the Watertown Free Public Library
The Watertown Free Public Library provides access to a wide variety of popular materials, resources, services, and programs that fulfill the informational, cultural and recreational needs of Watertown and surrounding communities. The WFPL works to create an environment that attracts and welcomes users of all ages and abilities.