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In honor of Native American Heritage Month, ITVS and Independent Lens are hosting an OVEE screening of Dawnland. RSVP to watch the full-length film, and then stick around for a live discussion with the filmmakers Adam Mazo, Mishy Lesser, and Tracy Rector, with the conversation moderated by ITVS Board Member and Director of Development, School of Journalism at the University of Montana, Gita Saedi Kiely.
For most of the 20th century, government agents systematically forced Native American children from their homes and placed them with white families. As recently as the 1970’s, one in four Native children nationwide were living in non-Native foster care, adoptive homes, or boarding schools. Now, for the first time, they are being asked to share their stories.
In Maine, a historic investigation—the first government-sanctioned truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) in the United States—begins a bold journey. The feature-length documentary DAWNLAND follows the TRC to contemporary Wabanaki communities to witness intimate, sacred moments of truth-telling and healing. With exclusive access to this groundbreaking process and never-before-seen footage, the film reveals the untold narrative of Indigenous child removal in the United States.
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Welcome to OVEE
Dawnland reveals the untold story of Indigenous child removal in the United States through the first government-endorsed truth and reconciliation commission in the nation, tasked with investigating the devastating impact of Maine’s child welfare practices on Native American communities.
- Gita Saedi Kiely
Gita Saedi Kiely spent 20 years as a documentary film producer, and is currently working in development at the University of Montana, School of Journalism building opportunities for aspiring journalists. Her most notable work was as series producer and story editor for Kartemquin Films’ acclaimed series The New Americans, a three-part, seven-hour series following five immigrant families' journey to and first years in the U.S. Prior to The New Americans she served on producing teams for Channel 4 in the UK, CBS and PBS in the U.S. and RTE in Ireland. Aside from production, Gita has taught documentary film courses at the University of Montana and was Festival Director of the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival from 2013-2017.
- Gita Saedi Kiely
- Adam Mazo
Adam Mazo is the director of the Upstander Project and co-director and producer of First Light, and the feature-length film, Dawnland. Adam also directed and produced Coexist (WORLD Channel, Africa Movie Academy Award Nominee). He co-founded the Upstander Project in 2009. He is originally from Minnesota, graduated from the University of Florida, and now lives in Boston with his wife and son.
- Mishy Lesser, Ed.D.
Mishy Lesser, Ed.D., is the learning director for the Upstander Project and Education Fellow at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut. She is director of the Upstander Academy, a weeklong professional learning experience for teachers and museum educators that focuses on genocide and human rights education and the skills of upstanders. Currently Dr. Lesser spends much of her time researching and writing the five-inquiry Teacher's Guide for Dawnland. Mishy authored the Coexist Teacher’s Guide to promote learning about the complexity of reconciliation in post-genocide Rwanda. She is a Circle Keeper and has been featured on WBUR (Boston) and PRI/BBC’s The World. Mishy was a Fulbright Scholar in Ecuador and spent 12 years learning and working in the Andes.
- Tracy Rector
Tracy Rector (Choctaw/Seminole) is the impact producer for Dawnland and the Upstander Project. She is a mixed race filmmaker, curator, community organizer, co-founder of Longhouse Media. She has made over 400 short films, and is currently in production of her fifth feature documentary. Her work has been featured on Independent Lens, Cannes Film Festival, ImagineNative, National Geographic, Toronto International Film Festival, and in the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian. She is a current Firelight Media Lab Fellow, WGBH Producer Fellow, and Sundance Institute Lab Fellow. Raised in Seattle and Albuquerque, Tracy lives in Seattle and sits as a City of Seattle Arts Commissioner.
The views and opinions expressed in this online screening are those of the presenters and participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of ITVS, public broadcasting, or any entities hosting the screening.