I read with dismay, Orlando Delogu’s op ed claiming the state’s discriminatory practices toward the Maine tribes was ended by the Maine Indian Claims Settlement. If that were true, we wouldn’t be working 40 years later to implement the recommendations of the bipartisan task force convened by the Legislature to address long-standing issues with the land claims act that governs the relationship between the state and the tribes in Maine.

To understand why the Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act needs fixing, you only had to listen to hours of testimony on last year’s bipartisan bills to 1) address the issues created by the Act and 2) allow the Passamaquoddy Water District to provide clean water to its customers.

Part of my dismay had to do with the approach used by politicians and the media in the late ’70s to gin up citizens’ fear that their land was about to be stolen from them (how ironic). Thankfully, 40 years later, a more helpful understanding of the longstanding inequality facing Maine tribes has resulted in bi-partisan work to address that inequality which includes sovereignty.

There are 570 tribes in the United States whose sovereignty is recognized by the states within which those tribes reside. It’s embarrassing that Maine is the only state not among them.

There are a few politicians who view the Maine Indian Claims Settlement as settled law. Fortunately, we know that laws, like the Constitution, can and should be amended to change with the times. It’s time the state recognizes the tribes’ sovereignty and gets on with the process of creating a healthy prosperous Maine for all.

At a time when other states are whitewashing their history let’s buck the trend, admit our mistakes, and move forward with the tribes as equal partners. Add your voice. Find out more at Wabanakialliance.com


Karen Heck


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