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‘Dawnland’ Is The Documentary Highlighting The Abuse Of Native Americans By The U.S. Government

The string of familiarities might not be documented in detail within the pages of our U.S. history books but our government’s role in separating children from their families has a long and torrid past. The separation of immigrant children from their parents at the southern border this past year was only the latest example. Black slave children were routinely snatched from their families in the earlier years of our country’s history and at the same time, and for decades after, Native American children were torn from their homes and forcibly, sent to boarding schools, foster programs or sent to be adopted by white families located far away from their communities.

A new film, “Dawnland” tells the story of a commission that aimed to inquire into the separation of Indigenous children.


The documentary which dabbles in the preservation and restoration of culture and reconciliation for children stolen from their families offers a look into the country’s first truth and reconciliation commission for Native Americans in the country. Truth and reconciliation commissions have been set up by states in an effort to discover and unveil wrongdoings by a government particular during times of unrest, dictatorship or war. The first commission of this type appeared in 1994 in South Africa, years later dozens of countries, including Guatemala, Argentina and El Salvador, have used them to reconcile the wrongdoings of their governments.

“Dawnland” follows the efforts of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission launched by the state of Maine and five Wabanaki chief in 2011 in an effort to examine the practice of child separation in the area. At the time the commission worked to investigate the treatment of Indigenous people by the child welfare system from 1978 to 2012.

According to the documentary, by 1974, 1 in 4 Indigenous children were separated from their families. It also underlines that by 1978, the U.S. government had signed into law the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which set a string of criteria for the placement of Indigenous children in boarding schools and foster homes. Even despite the 1978 law and various commissions and investigations NICWA notes that Indigenous children are four times more likely to be removed from their homes than white children. Additionally, Native children are overrepresented in the U.S. foster care system, which, according to the NICWA, “has increased trauma” to Indigenous families.

Check out a trailer for the film below.

View the full documentary here on PBS.

Read: 10 Latinas On How They Plan To Continue Amplifying The Latinx Voice Post-Midterms

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Teacher Resigns After Racist Acts Against Native American Students Including Cutting Off Braid

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Teacher Resigns After Racist Acts Against Native American Students Including Cutting Off Braid

As if the Native American community didn’t have enough to deal with including voter suppression and ongoing efforts to protect their land, they still face hardships within the school system. Centuries after being colonized, Native Americans are still being persecuted with acts of racism and injustices. Take, for example, this heartbreaking story out of New Mexico.

Two female high school students were ridiculed by their teacher in their classrooms because they were Native American.


The incidents against the students occurred on Halloween at Cibola High School. The majority of the student body and staff dressed up for the occasion, however, some of them were dressed as Native people.

It’s important to note that Native Americans represent 10.6 percent of the New Mexico population and have 22 tribal communities in the state along with 19 pueblos and three tribes spanning five reservations.

The Native students told the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico that they had to withstand the site of their non-Native peers dressed up in stereotypical Native costumes. But that’s not the worst of it.

The Native students say their teacher, Mary Jane Eastin, who was dressed up as Marie Laveau, a historic voodoo witch, instructed the class to participate in a learning game. According to the ACLU: “She would ask students questions out loud. Those that answered correctly would be rewarded with marshmallows. Those that answered incorrectly would be given dog food. Ms. Eastin encouraged her students not to worry, as the dog food was ‘organic.’ Some of the students who answered incorrectly ate the dog food. Others refused.”

Eastin then approached one Native female student and threatened to cut off her braid with the box cutter. She then put down the box cutter and cut her braid —approximately 3 inches — with a pair of scissors, “and then sprinkled it on the desk in front of her.” The teacher then pointed out to the other female Native student who had fake blood on her face — she was dressed up as the Little Red Hood.

The ACLU states that the exchange went as so:

The teacher asked her, “What are you supposed to be, a bloody Indian?”

“In response to the collective gasps from her students, Ms. Eastin doubled down and stated, ‘What? She is bloody, and she is an …’ Ms. Eastin stopped short of finishing her sentence and allowed her racist comments to linger.”

One month later the ACLU demanded the school district “make immediate changes to prevent students of color from being subject to racially-hostile school climates.”

Initially, Eastin was placed on leave while the Albuquerque Public schools Police Department investigated the situation. However, this week Eastin chose to resign.

According to KUMN radio station, a spokesperson with the school district said they are “seeking expert assistance for cultural competency training and will seek public input on the training.”

READ: ‘Dawnland’ Is The Documentary Highlighting The Abuse Of Native Americans By The U.S. Government

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Latina Reads: 9 Bolivian Authors And Poets To Get Fired Up About This Month

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Latina Reads: 9 Bolivian Authors And Poets To Get Fired Up About This Month

In a country that is known for its patriarchal views and the marginalization of women, some of the women on this list used the power of their words to promote equality. Today Bolivian women are in every position of power and its thanks in part to feminist icons like Adela Zamudio who used her poems to empower and enlighten. The nation is home to the largest population of indigenous people in South America and their voice and struggles are also represented in some of the publications on this list. Bolivians are among the largest group of migrants from South America in the U.S. with estimates around 200,000 and yet little is talked about when it comes to these feminist pioneers and their rich literary contributions.

This week, we’re reflecting on these positive and influential mujeres and why they need to be on your bookshelf.

Giovanna Rivero

Considered one of Bolivia’s most successful contemporary writers, Giovanna Rivero has received awards and acclaim for her short stories. Rivero, 46, has published four short story collections including “Las Bestias” published in 2005 and awarded the National Literary Prize of Santa Cruz. In 2006 she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and later earned a master’s degree and doctorate in Latin American literature from the University of Florida. She has taught at her alma mater, the University of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and Ithaca College. Her latest book, “The Darkest of the Forest,” is the sequel to “La Dueña De Nuestros Sueños,” (“The Owner of Our Dreams”) and it follows the three protagonists from the original novel as they enter adolescence and one’s battle with bipolar disorder.

María Mujía

Bolivian poet María Mujía is one of the nation’s first Romantic poets and one of its first female writers following its independence. She was born in 1812 and blind by the age of 14 but that didn’t stop her from writing more than 300 poems and a novel. She’s known for her honest and lyrical prose and melancholy and dark verses that led to her being known as the “La Alondra del Dolor” (“The Lark of Pain”). Her body of work was collected by Gustavo Jordán Ríos and published under the title “María Josefa Mujía: Obra Completa” in 2009. 

Blanca Wiethüchter

Historian, writer and publisher Blanca Wiethüchter is considered one of the most iconic poets in Bolivian literature. She was born in La Paz in 1947 and starting in 1975 she published fifteen collections of poetry along with several essays, short stories and a novel, “El Jardín de Nora”. She was a professor at the University of San Andrés and organized the creative writing program at the Bolivian Catholic University. She died in 2004 in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Yolanda Bedregal de Cónitzer

Poet and novelist Yolanda Bedregal de Cónitzer is commonly known as “Yolanda de Bolivia”, and is the founder of the Bolivian National Union of Poets. Through her works, she explored themes of isolation and loneliness and became known for her portrayal of human emotions. She published her first book “Naufragioi” in 1936 and released more than 20 collections of poetry, narrative and anthologies in the span of her career. Her work is commonly divided into three stages: the first stage explores the human condition, the second focused on symbolism, and the third centers around religion and the darker aspects of life. She died in La Paz on 21 May 1999.

Matilde Casazola

Matilde Casazola is a beloved singer and songwriter who has published thirteen books of poetry. She began writing when she was just 8 years old, taking inspiration from her environment, something she continued to do throughout her career. She published her first book of poetry in 1967 while she was in exile in Argentina where she developed her writing. Her most important works include “Obra Poética” published in 1996 which compiled 12 of her poetry books, and “Canciones del Corazón para la Vida”, a songbook that includes forty of her compositions of writing and music. In 2016, she received the National Culture Award in Bolivia. “My poetic works have often come to me in the darkness of sleepless nights, that is to say they’ve sprung from my conscious as well as my subconscious thought, and more or less in an onerous state. Melodies arise in my mind; they enchant me, and I try to memorize them. The majority of these melodies come with a poetic idea, too, so trying to decipher them and put them on paper is an interesting adventure,” she told the Bolivian Express.

Liliana Colanzi Serrate

Award-winning author Liliana Colanzi Serrate, 37, has published three short story collections including “Our Dead World” published in 2016. The novel, translated to English in 2017, tells the story of marginalized people and the contrasts between traditional and modern worlds in relation to indigenous history and colonization. In 2015 she won the International Aura Estrada literary prize, given to Spanish-speaking authors under 35 who live in Mexico and the United States. Colanzi studied social communication at the Private University of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and has a master’s in Latin American studies from the University of Cambridge, she currently teaches at Cornell University.

Ana María Romero de Campero

A prominent activist and journalist, Ana María Romero de Campero is also known for her literary works promoting democracy and human rights. She was the former Minister of State, first Defender of the People and president of the National Senate. Her books include “Not All Nor So Holy, Chronicles On Power”, about her time in the Ministry of Press and Information and the democratic resistance to the military coup. Her 2005 fiction novel “Crossed Wires” was inspired by her experiences in the Latin American Bureau of the news agency United Press International in Washington DC. Among the numerous awards she’s received, she was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as part of the “1,000 Women for peace in the world” initiative in 2005. She passed away in 2010.

Adela Zamudio

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Cada 11 de octubre se celebra en Bolivia el Día de la Mujer Boliviana; es por el natalicio de su escritora más importante, y una de las precursoras del feminismo en su país: Adela Zamudio. Nació en Cochabamba y desde pequeña se interesó por la escritura; cuando llegó al tope de la educación ofrecida para mujeres en la época, siguió instruyéndose. A los 15 años publicó el poema Dos Rosas bajo el seudónimo Soledad, y a los 25 años sus poesías en El Heraldo, pero su primer libro, Ensayo poéticos, fue recién a imprenta en Buenos Aires en 1887. A esta publicación se sumaron después el compilado de poesía Ráfagas en 1903, e Íntimas, una novela de 1913; mucho material, desde cuentos a poemas y hasta obras de teatro, llegaron a imprenta tras su muerte. Es en Ráfagas donde aparece uno de sus poemas más famosos, llamado Quo Vadis, con el que se enfrentó a la Iglesia Católica. Criada dentro del catolicismo reinante en la época en América Latina, Adela Zamudio se volvió un nombre famoso en su país no sólo por sus poemas en estilo literario romántico, sino que por batallar por el laicismo en el aula. Tuvo una lucha epistolar con el Padre Pierini, sacerdote que después sería obispo, y que vio en Zamudio una enemiga de la fe. En Quo Vadis, Adela Zamudio escribió: “La Roma en que tus mártires supieron/ En horribles suplicios perecer/ Es hoy lo que Los césares quisieron/ Emporio de elegancia y de placer”. Además, la escritora dejó plasmado en sus poemas la precaria situación que vivían las mujeres. Otra de sus poesías famosas es Nacer hombre, donde ironiza sobre las infidelidades masculinas o el derecho a voto. Adela Zamudio siguió luchando por la educación de las niñas y niños de Bolivia, y se convirtió en directora. En su tumba se puede leer el siguiente poema: “Vuelvo a morar en ignorada estrella / libre ya del suplicio de la vida, / Allá os espero; hasta seguir mi huella / Lloradme ausente pero no perdida”. #mujeresbacanas #adelazamudio

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Considered Bolivia’s finest poet, Adela Zamudio is also the founder of the nation’s first feminist movement. She was born in Cochabamba in 1854 and published her first poem, “Two Roses” when she was 15 with the help of her father. She went on to become the director of a girls’ high school where she did something that was unheard of at the time- she promoted women’s rights. Her poems are considered intellectual and question religion and other ideologies, mainly focusing on society’s struggles, the revolution, and inequality. She refused to accept societal norms and battled with loneliness hence the pen name “Soledad”, which she used to publish several of her works including the controversial “Quo Vadis”. In 1926 she was given the Bolivian Crown of Distinction award, the country’s highest literary honor. In recognition of her feminist beliefs, Bolivian Women’s Day is celebrated on October 11, her birthday.

Isabel Ibañez

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The face of a girl who turned in the first round of her edits!!! ???????????????????????? I did it! Worked through 20+ notes/feedback in one month and now I get to work on the Book 2 submission package until I get line edits back for WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT (later this month)!!! . . . . On a whim, I decided to drive 2 hours to Brooklyn tomorrow for the Brooklyn Book Festival! Who else is going?! If you see me walking around by myself or trying to figure out how to parallel park my rental, come say hi to me! I’m way nice. 🙂 . . . #brooklynbookfestival #brooklynbookfestival2018 #authorsofinstagram #authorsofig #writersofinstagram #writer #writersofig #youngadultbooks #bookstagram #amediting #yalovin #bookstagram #writerscommunity #youngadultbooks

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Isabel Ibañez was born in Boca Raton to Bolivian immigrants and is set to publish her first book in 2019. The graphic designer, blogger and writer majored in creative writing and history and is  a mentor in Pitch Wars for the young adult category. Six years ago she founded the design and stationery studio 9th Letter Press and though she recently sold the company she remains their lead designer. Her debut novel, “Woven in Moonlight”, is a Bolivian-inspired fantasy that tells the story of a 17-year-old weaver who plans to overthrow the corrupt monarch of Inkasisa, it’s set to be released in the fall of 2019.

Read: Latina Reads: 7 Classic Literary Works Created By Costa Rica’s Most Beloved Women Writers

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