On June 29, 2012, Five Wabanaki Chiefs and Governor Paul LePage signed an historic mandate to begin the work of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The first of its kind in the nation, the TRC will uncover and acknowledge the truth regarding Maine’s treatment of Native American children.
For decades, children across the country, including right here in Maine, were routinely removed from their families and placed in foster care or boarding schools in state-sanctioned efforts to assimilate Native American children into the non-native population. In 1978, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a law that set higher standards of protection for the rights of native children, their families and their tribal communities.
While progress has been made in Maine since the passage of the ICWA, the TRC will illuminate the experiences of Wabanaki people with the Maine child welfare system during the time period from 1978 to today. The TRC will seek to understand why these experiences occurred and determine any causes that still exist. The Commission will seek to recognize the impact of these experiences on individuals, families, communities, cultures and state child welfare services.
As the signed TRC mandate states, “Our commitment is to uncover the truth, embrace its lessons and collaboratively focus our efforts on activities that will help us learn from the past so that we might move forward as equal partners invested in promoting best child welfare practice for Wabanaki people of Maine.” The historic work on behalf of Wabanaki children and families will transform individual lives and public policies and communities.
For more information: