The Bounty Teacher's Guide

The Bounty Teacher’s Guide

The Bounty Teacher’s Guide was written to help educators, students, and the general public deepen their understanding of the issues raised in the documentary film Bounty (2021), produced by Upstander Project. Readers who want information about rental or purchase of Bounty are encouraged to visit or

Note: the Bounty Teacher's Guide has been updated since this e-book was published. For the most up-to-date version of the guide please refer to this PDF.

The Bounty Teacher’s Guide consists of four lessons and two appendices:

Lesson 1: Raphael Lemkin and the Crime that Needs a Name: the life of Raphael Lemkin, the meaning of genocide, and the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
Lesson 2: Scalp-Bounty Proclamations: differing relationships between people and land, acts of scalping in England, early deeds, Wabanaki diplomacy
Lesson 3: The Six Anglo-Abenaki Wars: government-issued scalp-bounties in the Dawnland (New England)
Lesson 4: Scalping Outside the Dawnland: government-issued and privately-funded scalping outside the Dawnland
Appendix A: Provides a link to where readers can learn about land grants to bounty hunters and scalpers
Appendix B: Provides source links for those images that are searchable

Bounty is an outgrowth of Upstander Project’s short film, First Light (2015), and its Emmy® award-winning documentary film, Dawnland (2018), about the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the forced removal and coerced assimilation of Indigenous children, followed by Dear Georgina (2019). For more information about Dawnland and its 12-lesson teacher’s guide and viewer’s guide, visit

While the Bounty Teacher’s Guide uses an historical lens to focus on scalping of Indigenous peoples and the origin story of the United States, in no way do we mean to suggest that Indigenous peoples belong in the past. They are at the center of today’s struggles for justice, equity, and a fairer society, and on the front lines of social movements for environmental justice and rematriation of the land. They also play a major role in conversations about truth-telling and reparations, trauma healing and recuperation, and language recovery and communal survival.

According to Penobscot scholar Rebecca Sockbeson,

Waponahki resistance is deeply manifested in the reminder from our Elders that we were not intended to be here via colonial efforts to eradicate us, but most importantly we are still here, and that has required distinct resistance and fight back strategies. There were and continue to be systematic efforts to annihilate my people and dispossess us of all that we have ever known and understood . . . . [1]

Invoking her Wabanaki ancestors, Sockbeson calls for

… Red Hope, Cipenuk, from the east where the sun rises first, where we come from, the reminder of all we have survived already, including 97% original population depletion. [O]ur ancestors prayed for us to be here, and ... indeed we are still here. [2]

In another article, Sockbeson posits that the

… fact that we are still here speaks to the extraordinary resilience and values of kinship care intrinsic to Waponahki people, which has helped us survive and thrive in contradiction to the loss imposed by colonial oppression. [3]

The purpose of this guide is to engage teachers in:

critically examining historical events that have remained largely hidden and ignored for hundreds of years by non-Native people in the United States;
unlearning a distorted portrayal of the past that is deep in the dominant worldview;
acknowledging what they don’t know and exploring how that makes them feel;
using the dual lens of the View from the Shore and the View from the Boat;
exploring how erasure happens in what they teach and in how public spaces convey history, and the collective responsibility of settlers to change the status quo.

The events examined in this guide, which include the issuance of monetized scalp-bounty proclamations that targeted Indigenous peoples for extermination, are glaring reminders of an ideology of killing that is deeply woven into the American fabric, so deeply that the threads are hardly visible, unless you are an Indigenous person who feels their impact, or you are a non-Native person who has studied everyone’s history and not just that of the Europeans.

We aim to rectify the erasure and invisibility of the scalp-bounties so that future generations of students of U.S. history can learn the truth about the vast catalog of official policies that incentivized the hunting and scalping of Native children, women, and men in exchange for significant payment. The hunting of Native people constituted domestic terrorism and unleashed an avalanche of hatred and suspicion of Native peoples that continues today.

About erasure, historian Ned Blackhawk, a professor of History and American Studies at Yale University, explains,

There are many ways to remedy the pervasive erasure of Native peoples. Understanding that narratives of the past are inherently incomplete is a necessary beginning….

Understanding not only the history of the original, Indigenous peoples of a particular place but also the ongoing histories of Indigenous survival, adaptation, and … resurgence offer effective measures against the hard sediment of previous generations and paradigms….

As we see in our contemporary political discourses, once American history becomes synonymous only with Europeans and their descendants, then understandings of America and of Americans foreclose the heterogeneity that both pervades our society and also defines it. [4]

Attempted erasure of Indigenous peoples is the agenda of the system called settler colonialism. Scholar and author Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Colville Confederated Tribes) puts the spotlight on the treatment of Native peoples and the inadequacy of the concept of racism as the sole framework to explain what transpired after Europeans arrived on Turtle Island. “The single, irreducible element of the racism American Indians have been subject to is the acquisition of our lands, and this is what makes racism against American Indians different than all other forms of racism and discrimination.

This is the core of a system we call settler colonialism [5]. We will learn more about settler colonialism in Lesson Two.

This guide will fail if readers come away thinking that scalp-bounty proclamations were an anomaly created by a desperate group of European newcomers during an especially violent period of our country’s history before 1776. Scalp proclamations were issued in an estimated 80 instances across the American colonies in the Dawnland (present-day New England) over the course of 85 years. Among other things, the proclamations organized an ideology of anti-Native hatred and dehumanization by Europeans and were a tool of domination that facilitated the seizure of Native land. When it became clear to the Original peoples that European settlers had no intention of leaving this continent, many devoted their lives to diplomatic efforts in the hope of reaching agreements with Europeans to contain their settlements. Respecting Native towns and the hunting, fishing, and planting rights of the original peoples was a backbone of these negotiated agreements. Unfortunately, most Europeans blatantly and repeatedly refused to honor them because what they most wanted was land. Many Europeans dehumanized the land’s original inhabitants, which made it easier for them to hunt Native women, children, and men, and occupy their homelands.

Europeans in North America introduced the monetization of scalp hunting as part of their strategy to control the land, which rested on a foundation of disdain for Native peoples and a marked growth in the settler commitment to their destruction.

It is worth pointing out that although this guide is focused on genocide and scalp-bounty proclamations, I do not contend that the scalp bounties were the most abhorrent form of violence in the litany of atrocities perpetrated by Europeans against Native peoples. Nor do I find it a helpful exercise to rank-order the many ways human beings demonstrate cruelty to one another. In my opinion, there is nothing positive to be gained from such a line of argumentation.

Nor am I interested in the question of who scalped whom first, Native peoples or Europeans, because there is evidence that groups on both sides of the Atlantic scalped their enemies before they met one another on what we now call the American continent. Rather, I aim to show how the Europeans in North America introduced the monetization of scalp hunting as part of their strategy to control the land, which rested on a foundation of disdain for Native peoples and a marked growth in the settler commitment to their destruction.

The process of the dehumanization of Native peoples is an undeniable part of this country’s history, one that beckons non-Native people to engage in unlearning false narratives and learning the truth. If narratives about the past continue to fester and undermine the present, it is in part due to a failure of non-Native people to stop it. Indigenous peoples have not forgotten what happened, but the American educational system and the public have shrouded their stories in silence and denial for centuries. Ultimately, I am motivated by a desire to wrestle with the past so we can create conditions for a future driven by values and morals that respect everyone and their stories. By examining the hatred and violence that has remained largely overlooked, we can prepare ourselves to recognize how it has seeped into the attitudes, national narrative, policies, and cultural norms of this country. If we can think critically about what it means to live truthfully with that past so that its injustices don’t constrain our ability to act justly, we will have a better chance at manifesting a wise and life-sustaining future.

It is my sincere hope that those who cling to a false narrative about the origins of the U.S. and attack those who would question a one-sided telling will someday concede that the repeating of harmful falsehoods is bad for our national psyche and for our future as a pluralistic country. And if anyone reading this guide is surprised by the current constellation of crises that threaten democracy in the United States, your surprise may be diminished by reading on. At least that is my aspiration.

Learning to see historical events and processes in a larger context is one of the essential contributions and responsibilities of History and Social Studies educators. Failure to teach students about the multiple forces that shape events leaves them looking at events in isolation, which makes those events easier to forget, ignore, and dismiss. A significant cultural problem in the U.S. can be seen in a knee-jerk disinterest in the past, riddled with oft-repeated phrases: “Let bygones be bygones.” “Let sleeping dogs lie.” “Just get over it,” and “It was so long ago, why does it matter now?” and “Don’t you have anything better to do?” or “I wasn’t even alive then, so this has nothing to do with me.” Those views aim to control the narrative about the past to control the fu-ture. But if we remember what we have been socialized to forget, the status quo can and will be transformed. That is one of the goals this teacher’s guide aims to attain, in its own small way.

A few thoughts on word choice, language use, and spelling: Readers will find a variety of terminology when referring to the original peoples on the North American continent. When possible, I cite the names of specific Indigenous nations as they identify themselves. Otherwise I use Native peoples, Indigenous peoples, Native Americans, Original peoples, Indians, and First Nations. In addition, Abenaki and Wabanaki are both widely used to describe the people of the Dawnland. There are different explanations for this, one being that the French had difficulty pronouncing Wabanaki and used Abenaki instead. When discussing the many wars that engulfed the Dawnland, I reference the six Anglo-Abenaki wars even though these terms are a colonial construct. Upon citing primary sources from the 16th to 18th centuries when the spelling of words and use of punctuation were less codified than now, I have changed the spelling only when necessary to support reader comprehension.

There are obvious problems that derive from using English, the language of the trespassers and white colonial settlers, to convey realities and experiences of the Original peoples of this continent. Insofar as language both reflects and embodies culture, English is an imported language that came with the newcomers. As a settler, I write in English about the violence that engulfed this continent after the arrival of the English and the words I use convey realities that have a profoundly different meaning in Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, or Wampanoag. For example, the English word scalp refers to the anatomical and biological functions of the soft tissue on the crown of a person’s head, made of skin, nerves, veins, arteries, and lymph nodes. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the English were fixated on their hair, and by wearing wigs, some people tried to announce their social standing and look more mature and powerful. For Indigenous peoples of the Eastern Woodlands who are part of Algonquian-speaking nations, hair was seen as sacred and they wore it long unless in mourning. A person’s scalp is seen as the dwelling place of their spirit and also a portal to their ancestors.

These views reflect profoundly different meanings of the place on the human body that the Passamaquoddy call wekuwatpat and the English call scalp.

Finally, I wish to acknowledge my positionality. I am a non-Native white woman of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. My ancestors were not white when they came to the U.S., but they had white eligibility and took it. The language of my ancestors is Yiddish. Through my research, writing, and teaching, I examine the origins of racial hierarchies and white dominance in Ckuwaponahkik (the Dawnland, present-day New England) and the ideology of distrust and hatred of Native peoples then and now. This is a story about the incalculable loss, suffering, and unacknowledged trauma of Indigenous peoples as well as their immeasurable resistance, survivance, and creativity. The latter is theirs to tell. This is also a story about wealthy English landowners who sought to increase their holdings, and in the process, used the government and its resources to offer significant monetary incentives to impoverished colonial settlers to hunt and kill Wabanaki people.

The lives that were destroyed by scalping were tallied up as a ledger filled by digits, but these numbers represent deceased and violated mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, cousins, children, and infants, usually rendered nameless in the historical record.

As a non-Native researcher who writes in English, when I present archival evidence of how many scalp proclamations were issued, how many scalpers hunted Indigenous peoples, and how much money the scalpers were paid for the body parts of their human victims, and where they brought captives and the human body parts of children, women, and men to claim payment, it can sound perfunctory, like a detached calculation. The lives that were destroyed by scalping were tallied up as a ledger filled by digits, but these numbers represent deceased and violated mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, cousins, children, and infants, usually rendered nameless in the historical record. The bounty proclamations encouraged acts of terrorism and spread anti-Native hatred that still manifests across this country as missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls; disproportionate deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic; the highest incarceration rates in the U.S.; violations of Indigenous sovereignty by state, federal authorities, and the titans of extractive industries; the continued presence of Indian mascots; and the celebration of national holidays that dishonor Native peoples. To gain knowledge of this is the only way to defy settler colonialism and practice un-erasure, a term coined by Gilio-Whitaker to describe the mindset and actions required to overcome erasure. As gkisedtanamoogk (Mashpee Wampanoag) likes to say, “Now that you know, what are you going to do about it?”

In case any of my readers question the relevancy of this history to current events, Donna Loring [6], Penobscot elder, politician, and writer, says that Maine has been worse than most states in its relations with tribal nations and that she

suspects it’s the unconscious cultural baggage of the “Indian wars,” which in Maine spanned nearly a century and resulted in the evacuation and destruction of every English settlement east of Wells, including what is now Portland. Out West, she notes, wartime trauma for settlers lasted a few years. For white Mainers it continued off and on for generations, leading them to fear “ever taking the boot off … [Wabanaki] necks,” even as combined Wabanaki tribal membership has fallen to less than one percent of the state’s population [7]

We look forward to collaborating with teachers in New England to address generations of anti-Wabanaki bias and with teachers everywhere who have the resolve to lean toward discomfort as they embark on their own journeys of learning and unlearning to teach this history.

Upstander Project and Its Mission

Upstander Project uses storytelling to amplify silenced narratives, develop upstander skills to challenge systemic injustice, and nurture compassionate, courageous relationships that honor the interconnection of all beings and the Earth.

We are especially committed to upstanding to stop injustice. We believe our society is harmed by social indifference that comes from an overreliance on false myths, silencing of voices, and misguided priorities. The words and deeds of upstanders can make us more aware of and engaged with forgotten historical and current events, and help us participate more fully in a democratic society. Our films are tethered to learning resources that support educators who want to focus on ignored stories by using documentary film. In 2015, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we released our short film, First Light, and a suite of nine related learning resources, and then in 2018, we released the Emmy-award winning documentary Dawnland, followed in 2019 by Dear Georgina, to help tell the important, timely, and complex story of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the historical and intergenerational trauma Wabanaki people contend with on a daily basis as they heal. It has been our privilege and responsibility to honor the stories of the people who shared personal statements with the Maine Wabanaki TRC. We have aspired to be worthy of their trust as filmmakers, researchers, and educators. Bounty, part of our Dawnland film series, reveals the hidden story of the Phips Proclamation, one of many scalp-bounty proclamations used to exterminate Native people in order to take their land in what is now New England. In the film, which was released in 2021, Penobscot parents and children resist erasure and commemorate survival by reading and reacting to the government-issued Phips Proclamation’s call for colonial settlers to hunt, scalp, and murder Penobscot people. We have aspired to be worthy of the trust of Wabanaki people as filmmakers, researchers, and educators.


This guide was researched and written on the traditional homeland of the Pequossette band of the Massachusett Tribal Nation near Quinobequin and present-day Watertown, Massachusetts. To those who helped shape this guide and made me think more deeply about the issues addressed here, I thank Penobscot Nation and other Wabanaki nations and tribes, Maine Wabanaki State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Dawn Neptune Adams (Penobscot), Esther Anne (Passamaquoddy), Lisa Brooks (Abenaki), Lloyd Bryant (Penobscot), Kimonee Burke (Narragansett), Ann Canning of Waynesburg University and the Library of Congress’s Teaching with Primary Resources Program, Penobscot Nation Ambassador Maulian Bryant, N. Bruce Duthu (Houma) of Dartmouth College, Anne Freeh Engel and Nathaniel Sheidley of Revolutionary Spaces, Claudia Tekina’ru Fox Tree (Arawak), Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Colville Confederated Tribes), Maria Girouard (Penobscot), gkisedtanamoogk (Mashpee Wampanoag) formerly of the University of Maine Orono, Erin Gleason, Chris Ives of Stonehill College, Michelle LeBlanc, Kathy Mulvaney, Elisabeth Nevins of Seed Education Consulting, Christopher Newell (Passamaquoddy), Roger Paul (Passamaquoddy/Wolastoq) of the Indian Island School, University of Southern Maine and University of Maine Orono, Joel Schomberg, Rebecca Sockbeson (Penobscot) of the University of Alberta, Elizabeth Solomon (Massachusett Tribe), endawnis Spears (Diné/Ojibwe/Chickasaw/Choctaw), Cedric Woods (Lumbee) of the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Institute for New England Native American Studies, and my Upstander Project colleagues Adam Mazo and Laura Hummer. 

My greatest appreciation is for Upstander Project researcher and public historian Kristine Malpica who made countless invaluable contributions to the archival research, writing, and analysis that informed especially lessons three and four. She created the exceptional
electronic timeline and Bounty Rewards Archive that accompany Bounty. With almost 2,500 entries, the archive shows who participated in and profited from wars and bounty expeditions that resulted in the capture and scalping of Native peoples.

Alex Jones, Caitlin Jones (Massachusetts State Archives), and Brian Nelson Burford and Yvette Toledo (New Hampshire State Archives) supported our research with dedication and diligence. Samantha Whittle of Clark University and Julia Lawrence of Emory University commented on an early draft of this document. Penelope Kogan, Lamisa Muksitu, and Sophia Dennis, student interns from Clark University, kindly and capably lent exceptional support to the manuscript at the right moment. Special thanks to Yen Tan of Otto is the One for contributing to design and to Abby Lank for graphic design.

To those whose contributions supported the creation of this guide, we are indebted to Barbara Goodbody, Maine Community Foundation, Maine Humanities Council, Shanta Puchtler and Nobuko Maruyama, Beryllium Pictures, and crowdfunding donors for their commitment to truth-telling.

- Mishy Lesser

Today in Maine there are four federally recognized tribes located in five communities: the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, the Passamaquoddy tribe at Indian Township, the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point, and Penobscot Nation. Each community maintains its own tribal government, cultural center, and each manages its respective lands and natural resources, and some have their own schools. Abenaki live in what is now Vermont and New Hampshire. Other Native peoples live in towns and cities across these states. All are collectively known as the “People of the Dawnland.” For more information, see and

Letter from Bounty the Filmmakers and Producers

Dear Educator,

In the three year journey of making the film Bounty and sharing about it publicly, we’ve heard two frequent reactions:

      “I can’t believe I didn’t know this. Why wasn’t I taught this?”
      “Is it OK to teach this to my children?”

In the United States, the song “This Land is Your Land” is sung at events, including presidential inaugurations as a sort of anthem for America. That song, despite its original intent, perpetuates the romanticized idea that this land has always been for “you and me” - despite the fact that ‘you and me’ never included those of us who are Indigenous people. Land “ownership” in the colonial narrative has always been about status and material wealth. The dozens of scalp proclamations targeting Wabanaki and other Indigenous nations put a price on our heads and Wabanaki people still live with the intergenerational trauma of the vicious hunting and killing of our children, women, men and two-spirits. The language of the scalp proclamations portrays us as dangerous savages that settlers needed to fear. The real reason for this genocide was to subjugate us and take the land. Instead of perpetrating genocide by killing us, it continues in the form of attempted territorial theft and pollution of our land and water. The United Nations Genocide Convention includes this saying “genocide means ... deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

But we are still here on the banks of the Penobscot River where our people have lived since time immemorial. Bounty represents a beautiful coming together to breathe life into history, with Penobscot people as authors of our own stories. It is our hope that this project will help people from all backgrounds come to terms with this hard history, adding to a larger picture of shared humanity and understanding.

The film may be difficult to watch, to process, and to understand. So we invite you to be gentle with yourself while processing this information. We don't want you to feel responsible for the actions of your ancestors. We don't want you to feel guilty for the atrocities that were committed by them. But we want you to learn the truth and share it so you can dismantle the systems your ancestors created -- ones that you continue to benefit from. 

The first recommendation is to recognize Wabanaki sovereignty. When you hear Wabanaki people put out a call to stand in solidarity with us, we ask you to show up. Colonialism never ended; it just shifted gears. Tribal representatives at the Maine State House and Washington, DC don’t have voting privileges, while the state treats us like a municipality and refuses to recognize the Federal government’s treaty and trust responsibilities under Federal Indian Law and Canons of Construction. These are only a few examples of many. 

If you live farther away from the Dawnland, we’d like you to know that atrocities such as this occurred all over Turtle Island, as you will learn in Lesson Four of this guide. And if your state or hometown isn’t included, you and your students can research the local history because chances are, something similar happened there. 

If our ancestors’ children were old enough to experience the terror of being targeted by scalp bounty hunters, your children are old enough to learn about it. Learn, reflect, and act.

– Dawn Neptune Adams and Maulian Dana, with Adam Mazo, Ben Pender-Cudlip, and Tracy Rector; Bounty Filmmakers

Co-Director’s Statement by Adam Mazo

The Phip’s Proclamation hung on the walls of Penobscot Nation tribal offices as proof of genocide and survival. My first reaction was of the “Holy S$#!” variety followed by, well, of course this happened and of course I never learned about it in my dominant culture schooling. In our filming of Dawnland hearing more about the proclamation in presentations by Wabanaki REACH I witnessed I was far from alone in my ignorance, shock, and horror at this declaration of genocide in pen and ink. Co-director Ben Pender-Cudlip and I wanted to incorporate this story of how the English hunted and scalped Penobscot people for money into the film. In part because the litany of horrors perpetrated against Wabanaki people by invaders is so extensive, and in part due to the question of how and whether to tell this story visually, the Phips Proclamation didn’t end up in the film.

Eight years later I believe perhaps this was how it was supposed to be. In screenings and Upstander Project teacher workshops featuring First Light and Dawnland, we would teach about the Phip’s proclamation and teachers in Maine and beyond were often horrified. We would ask people to raise their hands if they knew of the proclamation. Typically one or two hands would go up belonging to Wabanaki people and those who had attended REACH workshops. Our own learning journey is apparent to me now in Lesson 12 of the Dawnland Teacher’s Guide, which shares the tip of the iceberg of this history.

This journey is what led us to the idea of making Bounty. The story feels too important and too essential to the history of this land and the myriad crises we face today. The hunting and terrorizing of Wabanaki people can be linked directly to why we still see so much disregard for Native people by those from the dominant culture. This is why we believe the Bounty Teacher’s Guide should be required reading for teachers in the Dawnland so that all of us understand this history. As Wabanaki and other Indigenous Peoples know, European invaders scalped and terrorized Native people to take their land and that was just one tool they employed repeatedly to perpetrate genocide.

My colleague Mishy Lesser, while digging deeper, noticed the document was signed in the “Council-Chamber” in Boston’s Old State House. She discovered that there was no mention of this history in the building visited annually by thousands of Freedom Trail tourists who learn of American revolutionaries fighting for their freedom.

Ben had the idea of asking Penobscot families to read the hideous proclamation for a film as a declaration that, “we are still here.” Our experience with Dawnland taught us that we needed to ask Penobscot families if they thought this was even a good idea and whether they would participate and make the film together as collaborators. Maulian Dana, Dawn Neptune Adams, and Tim Shay and Shiwa Noh and their children Carmella Bear, Layla Bear, Kaden Neptune Adams, and Charlie Shay said yes and I am forever grateful. Mishy said, what about filming in the Old State House? And the rest is history…. Or at least we hope that it will be after being erased from the history books for centuries.

– Bounty Co-Director Adam Mazo

Bounty Logline and Synopsis


We are citizens of the Penobscot Nation. Together we bring our families to Boston to read our ancestors’ death warrant.


We are citizens of the Penobscot Nation. For this film, we bring our families to Boston to read our ancestors’ death warrant. This abhorrent proclamation, made in 1755 by the colonial government, paid settlers handsomely to murder Penobscot people. It declared our people enemies and offered different prices for the scalps of our children, women, and men. Bounty proclamations like this persisted for more than two centuries across what is now the United States. Some who scalped were even paid in stolen land.

The memory of being hunted is in our blood. We know this to be true, and science now affirms that trauma can be passed down from generation to generation. In Bounty we step into the future together with our children, into the colonizer’s hall of injustice, to read their hateful words and tell the truth about what was done to our ancestors. We exercise our power by sharing the horrors of this hard history as an act of resistance, remembrance, and a step toward justice.

Preparing to Teach Bounty

We encourage organizers of film-screenings to begin by acknowledging the Indigenous peoples upon whose land Bounty will be shown. It is important to remember that making a land acknowledgement has the most impact when embedded in a robust and long-term strategy to undo the erasure of Indigenous peoples. In other words, researching and writing a land acknowledgement is just a first step.

If you need information about the names and locations of tribal nations in what is currently the United States or Canada, please reach out to local tribal citizens and community members and consult this map of tribal nations. For more information about how to do meaningful rather than performative land acknowledgements, check out the resources at Here are a few recommendations:

Listen, learn, unlearn, grow, act, and ask local Native people how you can be helpful
Speak up from the heart against offensive or condescending speech, writing, and behavior
Contest how public spaces are named, and challenge popular narratives that erase Native peoples
Ask who’s at the table, whose voices are heard, who makes decisions, who gets funded, whose issues are addressed

In addition, we strongly encourage teachers to mention that if anyone in the viewing audience has family ties to those who were scalped and those who scalped, the film may especially impact you and we strongly encourage you to be well supported when you engage this material. The issues addressed by the film, teacher’s guide, and e-timeline have deep resonance for some and can potentially stir up difficult chapters of personal and family history, including historical and intergenerational trauma, and pry open long-held secrets wrapped in shame, blame, fear, and disgrace. With Bounty, we seek understanding not blame, healing not hurt, and thus we urge viewers to take care of yourselves as you watch the film. Make use of the “pause” button as often as needed and pay attention to the Trigger Warning in this guide.

After Watching Activities

Consider participating in a Listening Circle after watching Bounty. You can reach out to local Indigenous elders and community members to see if they would be willing to watch the film and keep the circle (facilitation). If there are people with spiritual practices that might befit this moment, you can also invite them to step forward. For more information on the Indigenous origins of Listening Circles, click here.

If holding a circle is not feasible, you can invite viewers to turn to a neighbor and share thoughts in response to these general questions:

What stood out for you? Why?
What surprised you?
Were any of your beliefs or assumptions challenged, and if so, which ones?
Were any of your beliefs or assumptions affirmed, and if so, which ones?
What ideas or information will stay with you?
What message do you think the filmmakers are trying to convey? How would you describe their point of view?
Was anything left out of this film that you think should have been included?
What questions remain for you?

For more information on the study mentioned in the film by Dawn Neptune Adams about the mice who were put into mazes, sprayed with orange blossom scent, and traumatized with electrical shocks, follow these links:

Key words for discussion include:


Students can also discuss the meaning of the word clusters that appear in the Phips Bounty Proclamation, as read by Penobscot parents in the film:

Enemies, rebels, and traitors
Pursuing, captivating, killing, and destroying

People Featured in Bounty

(In chronological order of appearance, ages given at time of filming in March 2019)

Tim Shay, Shiwa Noh, Charlie Shay (7)

Tim is a citizen of the Penobscot Nation. He leads the arts program and Shiwa is the Food Sovereignty Program Coordinator at Nibezun, which resides on sacred Wabanaki land along the Penobscot River, where Wabanaki people celebrate culture as medicine, provide an inclusive space for healing, and promote sustainability for all people and future generations.

Dawn Neptune Adams and Kaden Neptune Adams (10)

Dawn is a filmmaker on Bounty and a member of the Penobscot Nation. She is also a filmmaker and journalist with Sunlight Media Collective and a collaborator with Upstander Project.

Maulian Dana, Carmella Bear (12), and Layla Bear (9)

Maulian is a filmmaker on Bounty and is the tribal ambassador for Penobscot Nation. She is the playwright for an upcoming play and co-producer of an upcoming film about Margaret Moxa, a Penobscot woman who was murdered by scalpers in 1755, both co-produced with Upstander Project.

Work Cited

¹ Rebecca Cardinal Sockbeson, “Waponahki Anti-Colonial Resistance in North American Colonial Contexts: Some Preliminary Notes on the Coloniality of Meta-Dispossession,” 32, in Dip Kapoor, ed. Against Colonization and Rural Dispossession: Local Resistance in South and East Asia, the Pacific and Africa (London: Zed Books, 2017).
² Rebecca Cardinal Sockbeson, “Indigenous Research Methodology: Gluskabe’s Encounters with Epistemicide,” Postcolonial Directions in Education 6, no. 1 (2017):1-27.
³ Rebecca Cardinal Sockbeson, “Honored and Thriving: The Squaw Law and Eradication of Offensive State Place-Names,” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 40, no. 2 (2016), 123-138.
⁴ Monita K. Bell, “A Truer Sense of Our National Identity: Historian Ned Blackhawk explains why we must do a better job learning and teaching about the history of Indigenous slavery,” Teaching Tolerance 63 (Fall 2019): 38-40.
⁵ Dina Gilio-Whitaker, “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” Beacon Broadside Press, November 8, 2018,
⁷ Colin Woodard, “Donna Loring, retired tribal affairs adviser to Gov. Mills, says a sovereignty deal can be reached,” Portland Press Herald, February 17, 2021,

Continue to Lesson One: Historical Context

Raphael Lemkin and the Crime that Needs a Name