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

About the Film

In Bounty, Penobscot parents and children resist erasure and commemorate survival by reading and reacting to one of the dozens of government-issued bounty proclamations that motivated colonial settlers to hunt, capture, kill, and scalp Indigenous people. Many of these laws were signed in the room where this film was made, the council chamber of the Old State House.

Scalping people for cash rewards and land is a devastating idea and shocking practice, essential to how the United States became a nation, built on top of hundreds of Indigenous nations who thrived here for millennia before Europeans invaded these shores.

Bounty is a filmic testimony of the immeasurable resistance and survivance of Indigenous Peoples. The film is the cornerstone of this media ecosystem which invites us all to face stories of the incalculable loss, suffering, and unacknowledged trauma inflicted upon Indigenous People by settlers, past and present.

A Message from the Filmmakers

Bounty Film - Old State House - Upstander

Co-Director Maulian Bryant: “This project was breathing life into history, incorporating Penobscots today, telling these stories in the room where it happened and how this reverberates throughout all of our lives. You'll see children thinking about where they came from. You'll see parents figuring out how to teach their children some very hard truths, but you'll also see a lot of people healing together. I feel like this project will help people from all backgrounds come to terms with a lot of maybe ugly histories and some discomfort about how to process that. So my hope is that if you're feeling discomfort, if you're feeling afraid or angry, that this project will add up to a larger picture of shared humanity and understanding.”

Co-Director Dawn Neptune Adams: "I’d like you to be gentle with yourselves while you are processing this information. We don’t want you to feel responsible for the actions of your ancestors. But we want you to know about it, first and foremost, and we’d also like you to dismantle the systems that they created and that you benefit from.”

Co-Director Adam Mazo: “Bounty is a co-creation by a multicultural group of filmmakers from Upstander Project in Boston in collaboration with Penobscot families. We made a choice for five of us to direct this film, a shift from traditional hierarchical norms in filmmaking. It is one of the first films co-directed by Penobscot people to air on public television. We believe it is also historic for resurfacing of hidden history and reclaiming of space by Penobscot people, showing that they are here and thriving in the very room where genocide was authorized, in the heart of Boston, in a failed attempt to exterminate them. While for some the trappings of the Old State House represent grandeur, civilization, and refinement, with Bounty we hope viewers will see that façade covers up a ruthless, violent, and insidious truth. This is a story that must be known, remembered, and memorialized alongside Boston’s better known narratives."

Hidden History

Bounty Film - Old State House - Upstander

There were at least 150 government-issued scalp bounties across what is now the United States from 1675-1885.

In addition to huge sums of money, bounty hunters also received thousands of acres of land and went on to found towns that bear their names today including Spencer and Shirley in Massachusetts and Westbrook, Maine.

Upstander Project learning director Dr. Mishy Lesser explains, “Bounty flips the colonial narrative on its head. Some revolutionary soldiers had participated in so-called scalping ‘expeditions’, which raises the question: Whose freedom, for what purpose, and at what cost? At the Old State House, the governor’s council met to pass laws, including scalp laws that terrorized Native children, women, and men. We all deserve the right to learn the full truth of what happened on Boston’s Freedom Trail.”

Colonial records uncovered by researchers at Upstander Project and, since the conclusion of the filming of Bounty, confirmed by Revolutionary Spaces prove that bounty hunters brought human remains and captives to the Old State House.

Among the victims was a Penobscot diplomat and healer named Margaret Moxa, her husband, and her two-month old baby boy. Scalps of more unnamed genocide victims were also buried nearby, unmarked and unmemorialized.

Educational Resources

The Bounty media ecosystem, which also includes an extensive teacher’s guide, an archive of people who profited from or participated in bounty hunting, a timeline, videos, and more, are all available at

About Upstander Project

Upstander Project is a Boston nonprofit which 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. Learn more at

Open Daily Starting
July 1, 2024

At the Old State House

Runtime: 9 minutes

Screening of this film is included in the price of admission.

A Note From



Bounty was filmed in the Old State House on the unceded territory of the Massachusett Tribe and their neighbors the Wampanoag Tribe and Hassanamisco Nipmuc Band. We offer our gratitude to them, to Penobscot Nation, all Wabanaki peoples, and their ancestors past, present, and future.

A Note From

Revolutionary Spaces

Revolutionary Spaces is honored to work in partnership with Upstander Project to build awareness of these atrocious genocidal laws to support truth-telling for Native and non-Native peoples, and for a deepened understanding of our history and current world. Telling everyone’s stories makes a more just and equitable future possible for all.

Photos Courtesy of Jeremy Dennis and Upstander Project