First Light: The Indian Child Welfare Act Revisited


Associated Program:
John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum
April Fournier
Judith LeBlanc
Mishy Lesser
Chris Newell

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a federal law that resulted from years of pressure from Indigenous communities and their allies. Passed in 1978, it seeks to keep Indigenous children with their families as a response to evidence that Native American children were being systematically removed from their families and cultural and kinship ties. ICWA is now being challenged - arguments will be heard by the United States Supreme Court on November 9, 2022.

Join us for a screening of First Light, which documents the forced removal of Indigenous children and tells the story of an unprecedented experiment in truth-telling and healing for Wabanaki people and child welfare workers in Maine. After the short film, we will have a panel conversation about ICWA, its history, impacts, and why it matters today.

Panelists include:

  • April Fournier, M.Ed (Diné | Navajo), National Program Manager at Advance Native Political Leadership and At-Large Member of the Portland Maine City Council
  • Sandy White Hawk (Sicangu Lakota), Founder of the First Nations Reparation Institute
  • Judith LeBlanc (Caddo), Institute of Politics Fall 2022 Resident Fellow and executive director of Native Organizers Alliance (NOA)
  • Mishy Lesser, Ed.D, learning director for Upstander Project and Emmy® award-winning researcher
  • Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy), Tribal Community Member-in-Residence at UConn, and the director of education at the Akomawt Educational Initiative

Please click here to RSVP for an in-person seat.

We are grateful to co-directors Adam Mazo and Ben Pender-Cudlip, the Upstander Project, and the Boston University Center for Anti-Racist Research for showing this film.

Please register by Monday, November 7, if you would like the possibility of attending this event in person. Viewers will be notified by 5:00 PM ET that day if a seat is available for them in the venue.

If a seat is unavailable or you will not be attending in person, viewers can stream the event live via our YouTubeTwitter, or Facebook pages. You do not need to register for virtual attendance.

The Institute of Politics follows all HKS health and safety protocols, including COVID vaccination, testing, and quarantine guidelines. Masks are no longer required at HKS events, but anyone who wishes to wear a mask should feel free to do so. The Forum is currently closed to people without a Harvard ID, and RSVPs are required for in-person attendance.

The IOP encourages persons with disabilities to participate in our programs. If you have questions about accommodations or the physical access provided, please contact 617.495.1360 or in advance of the event.