I love Maine. I’ve attended college here for nearly two years, and I’ve discovered a deep love for Maine’s moose, mountains, and maple syrup. And, of course, Maine wouldn’t be the same without its people. While not all new Mainers are met with the same kindness that I’ve been shown, many folks I’ve met so far are genuine, kind, and share an appreciation for Maine and its extraordinary environment.

That kindness is not extended to everyone in Maine, unfortunately. I recently learned that in Maine, Indigenous tribes don’t have the right to self-govern. This right was taken from the Wabanaki tribes in the 1980 Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act, making Maine the only state where Indigenous tribes are not sovereign.

This stripping of sovereignty has exacerbated issues with water quality and inhibited the tribes’ ability to attract renewable energy investments, to name just two impacts. Additionally — unlike the 570 other federally-recognized tribes — the Wabanaki have not been able to benefit from over 150 federal laws passed since 1980 that would improve access to health care, update infrastructure, prepare for climate impacts, and more.

I think Maine can be better.

This legislative session, there’s a chance to restore the Wabanaki’s inherent rights to self-govern. It’s called L.D. 1626, and is commonly known as the “Tribal Sovereignty” bill. This legislation is a chance to extend the Pine Tree State’s spirit of kindness and community care to the original people of this place we now call Maine.

Whether you’ve been here for generations or just a few years, it takes all of us who love this place to work together towards a fair and equitable Maine. It’s time to show up for Indigenous communities in Maine and advocate for their inherent right to self-govern. Join me in learning more and taking action at wabanakialliance.com.

 

Chloe Shader

Waterville

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