Report Released by the Maine Wabanaki-State Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Here. (78 pages, pdf).

We further assert that these conditions and the fact of disproportionate entry into care can be held within the context of continued cultural genocide, as defined by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. In particular, the convention notes that genocide means “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” We posit that Article 2, Sections b and e –“Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group” and “Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group” – apply to what Wabanaki communities face here in Maine.
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This, too, we found to be true: providing and sustaining preventive support to Native families might be of the greatest use of all. One Wabanaki service provider commented, as did many, that tribal people view child rearing as the responsibility of an extended network of kin and connections. This person noted that the best way to help children is to “strengthen families as a whole and communities as a whole to be able to step up and care for kids when things aren’t optimal in their home lives so they don’t ever even need to enter the system.” (11/4/14)

Many of those who work in the state child-welfare system share this exact desire. When reflecting on the process of being involved with the Commission, a DHHS supervisor wrote, “This has been an amazing journey to bring truths to light. To bravely state fact, to move through and past pain toward healing. My vision for the future is a strong family system without the need for foster care.” (4/9/15)

The report ends with 14 recommendations, and comes out amid tensions between tribes and the state over fishing, water quality standards, and jurisdictional concerns.