Monday, June 18, 2018

Ripping Children From Their Parents Is, Unfortunately, Nothing New #DawnlandMovie

Jessica Stewart was handcuffed at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office in South Portland, Maine where she was non-violently protesting separation of children from their families seeking asylum at the U.S. border with Mexico.

People are aghast and distraught at reports and photos flowing out of the thousands of detentions of children trying to cross into freedom.

Thousands across the U.S. staged a National Day of Action to protest caging children after ripping them from their parents, sometimes literally from their mother's breast.

Not surprisingly, we find that wealthy corporations like General Dynamics are profiting from the warehousing of human children. My sister supplied contact info to let them know how you feel about their cost of doing business:
Twitter: @GDMS
General Dynamics “Ethics helpline”: 800-433-8442

This is the current events context for my viewing the just released documentary Dawnland in Bangor, Maine on June 14. It demonstrated that while I was living a comfortable existence as a college student in Maine during the 1970's, Native children were being torn from their families by the state. Many were placed in abusive foster homes. All were denied access to their culture, their language and in most cases, their grandparents.

The Maine-Wabanaki Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission spent two years collecting the horror stories of victims of a practice they decided was accurately described as cultural genocide.

Many interviews had to be suspended because the victims were crying too hard to speak as they revisited traumatic events that had occurred decades ago. (The same is said of women being interviewed after having their children taken from them at the border.)

Denise Altvater's on-camera interview was halted when she was overcome by emotions as she described life with her siblings in foster care. "I never cried. I never cried. We spent four years there and every day was torture."

Georgianna, a Passamoquoddy elder, testified: "I can't get over the nightmares. You can't heal someone who's gone through hell."

Two of the commissioners and several of the Maine-Wabanaki TRC conveners were present for discussion following the Dawnland screening. One viewer asked, We see the truth, but where is the reconciliation?

Commissioner Sandy White Hawk, who is Sicangu Lakota by adoption, was not in Bangor but is seen on camera noting that the healing process might be underway because, "You told your story among your relatives and they heard you." A poem she wrote says, "Once you were children. Then you were victims. Then you were survivors. Now you are warriors."

Commissioner gskisedtanmoogk (key-said-TAH-NAH-mook) is Wampanoag from the community of Mashpee located on Cape Cod, and a family member of Nkeketonseonqikom, the Longhouse of the Otter. 

gskisedtanmoogk said of reconciliation, "That's the long road."

Photo: Gregory Rec, Portland Press Herald
May I live to see the 1,900+ children ripped from their families at the southern border put a foot on that road. A lot of decolonization work will have to happen before that becomes possible. Let's get busy.

1 comment:

Lura Jackson said...

Thank you for making this connection. It has happened before - and it is happening now. Only when we are aware of each flavor of this atrocity can it be fully stopped.