“There is truth, healing, and change in this process,” says Denise Altvater, who directs AFSC’s program in Maine.

She was speaking of the first public-statement gathering by the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, held in fall 2013 in Sipayik, also known as the Passamaquoddy Pleasant Point Reservation. Fourteen people came forward to give testimony during the three-day event.

As late as 1984, decades after the federally sponsored Indian Adoption Project tried (and failed) to show that Native children would be better off with white families, Maine still had one of the highest rates of removal of Native children in the country.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is charged with uncovering the truth, promoting healing, and making recommendations for moving forward.

Denise worked for more than a decade to help lay the foundation for this historic effort, and will continue to support the Commission’s work in the months ahead.