Truth, Healing, and Change: Maine-Wabanaki REACH

sacred-fire-in-sipayik
Sacred fire at Sipayik, photo courtesy of Maine-Wabanaki REACH

REACH (Reconciliation, Engagement, Advocacy, Change and Healing) began as a collaboration of state and tribal child welfare workers who learned together that children, families, and communities need truth, healing and change.

REACH initiated the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), whose mandate was to understand the experiences of Wabanaki people with state child welfare. The findings and recommendations of the TRC inform and guide the work of REACH and provide a touchstone for present and future action.

Wabanaki people have the highest rates of socioeconomic distress in Maine, as evidenced in statistics and Wabanaki experience. Maine residents are largely ignorant about the Wabanaki, the Indigenous people of this territory, and unaware of their part in this centuries old story.

This situation is a result of a history of colonization and strategies of genocide against Native people, and of continuing relationships that favor non-Native individuals, communities, and governments over Wabanaki.  Laws, policies, and practices often limit tribal sovereignty and limit the ability of the tribes to help their people. In 2015, we have seen the state of Maine oppose the tribes on fishing rights, sovereignty of home waters, prosecution of domestic violence perpetrators, and development of economic opportunities.  Mainers benefit from these limits at great expense of Wabanaki people. We rarely talk about this shared history and present realities.

Combatting 500 years of colonization, genocide, and oppression requires a conscious act of decolonization, reconnecting back to land, place, and an identity that was defined prior to colonization. It means rejuvenating the spirit that’s rooted in land, ceremony, identity, and relationships. It means supporting Native people in addressing the needs and aspirations of their communities, and to recover and reclaim languages, customs, spiritual traditions, justice systems, and hope.

allies-sharing-information
Allies sharing information, photo courtesy of Maine-Wabanaki REACH

REACH aspires to restore truthfulness, compassion, love, acceptance, equality, and generosity.

– REACH staff

Take Action

Visit at  www.mainewabanakireach.org to learn more and find out how you can become involved.

Watch the short film First Light about the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Learn more about the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission by visiting their archive at Bowdoin College.

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