HERMON, Maine - (NEWS CENTER) About 200 people gathered in Hermon today to watch history in the making as the five members of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission were officially sworn in. They will look into issues surrounding generations of native children being taken from their homes under State and Federal policy - often without tribal permission or their parent's consent - and placed with white families.
The five took a multi-prong pledge which culminated in the provision, "Fully aware of the significance and the potential of truth, healing and change in this historic undertaking, I pledge my very best effort in this process," the Commissioners answered with a resounding, "I do."
The commission is made up of: Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, gkisedtanamoogk - a member of the Wampanog tribe-, longtime educator Carol Wishcamper, Dr. Gail Werrbach - director of the UMaine School of Social Work and Sandra White Hawk, member of the Lakota Sioux of South Dakota.
It is the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the world to involve both sides in equal measure and from beginning to end of the process. Dozens of other tribes and states which have been considering forming TRCs of their own will be watching the three year process closely.
"I just think the people of Maine - not only the first nation's people of this land here - but the State of Maine citizens need to be very proud that being the first state to move forward is going to set the precedent for the whole nation on how to address this history of child welfare," says Commissioner Sandra White Hawk.
The TRC's mission is to chronicle the scope of what took place, the multi-generational impact it had, and to issue recommendations for how both sides can ensure it never happens in the future.
For more information on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, click here: http://www.mainetribaltrc.org/