First Light


NOW streaming free online


It’s not just about removing children, it’s dismantling every aspect of their being in the process.
— gkisedtanamoogk

For centuries, the United States government has taken Native American children away from their tribes, devastating parents and denying children their traditions, culture, and identity. First Light documents these practices from the 1800s to today and tells the story of an unprecedented experiment in truth-telling and healing for Wabanaki people and child welfare workers in Maine.

In 2015 the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded that Native people in Maine continue to be targets of "cultural genocide." The commission is the topic of the Emmy® nominated documentary film, Dawnland, which aired on Independent Lens in 2018.

Learning Resources

The learning resources for First Light connect teachers and students to primary and secondary sources and questions and activities so they can deepen their understanding of the brutal and disturbing history of settler colonialism and its impact on Native peoples, government policies that aimed to force Native people to stop being who they are, and the process of healing that accompanies a truth and reconciliation commission.