Letter: Native American Mainers deserve respect, encouragement

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Native Americans have experienced lots of torture and pain for a lifetime; now they have a chance to share their stories with the help of the Maine Wabanaki Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This is an important topic because it is a way for Native Americans to share the experiences they have had. Some are more shocking and sad than others.

One thing they have faced throughout the years is being taken out of their homes. They were taken from family for no exact reason. They were sent to orphanages, foster homes, and boarding schools. Some Native children were tortured or abused, mostly in orphanages or foster homes. In boarding schools, they were not allowed to speak their language and were taught to act “civilized,” as if they weren’t civilized already.

Another thing that Native Americans faced was discrimination. They were known to be discriminated against for their race and what they wore. They were sometimes called “savages,” because of their lifestyle. I believe that what Native Americans are doing, by sharing their stories about what they have experienced throughout the years, is good because it gives them a voice that wasn’t heard before. It gives them a chance to share something they have held onto.

Some Native Americans are afraid to share their stories. If we encourage the ones who are afraid with some sort of action or plan, we can help them to not be afraid. What will you do to help?

Shalyee Penney, fifth grade
Ocean Avenue Elementary School