Between 1990 and 2010, I served for 15 years as executive director of the Maine Indian-Tribal State Commission and then as a commission member representing the state. I write to respond to the May 16 op-ed by Orlando Delogu in which he argues against sovereignty for the four tribes in Maine: Passamaquoddy Tribe (Motahkmikuk and Sipayik), Penobscot Nation, Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, and Mi’kmaq Nation (“Commentary: In state with dispersed tribal land, ‘full sovereignty’ seems unworkable“).

Ever since I read the op-ed, there are two words I can’t get out of my head: kitchen sink. Delogu asserts that “‘full sovereignty’ is seemingly unworkable in Maine, given the fragmentation of tribal lands.” I don’t recall hearing this argument during all the years I was involved with tribal-state relations. Perhaps sovereignty supporters in more recent years have done such an excellent job debunking time-worn arguments against sovereignty that opponents now feel the need to throw in the kitchen sink. The fragmentation argument is bunk.

Delogu opines that “full sovereignty” will result in “harms”, “risks”, and “chaos” in relation to Maine’s natural resources, environment, rights of individuals, business activities, and infrastructure. This is more bunk and, worse, it is fear-mongering.

Delogu states that the “asserted benefits” of sovereignty for the tribes are “illusory.” It is the height of arrogance and colonialist mentality for a non-native man to dismiss the lived experience and deeply held beliefs of Wabanaki people from a culture entirely different from his own.

Throughout the U.S., states have figured out how to cooperate with more than 500 sovereign tribes. There is no reason why Maine can’t do the same. I like to imagine that one day when issues arise between Maine and the four sovereign tribes whose ancestors have lived here for millennia, multiple governments of goodwill and equal stature will work together toward solutions. This sounds good to me.


Diana Scully 


Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.