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  • Producer/Editor/Host: Amy Browne
    Audio recorded by: John Greenman

    In 2012, Maine’s attorney general informed the Penobscot Nation that the state had decided that the Penobscot reservation didn’t actually include any of the water surrounding their islands—that they had no rights to their namesake river—contrary to historic agreements. The tribe responded with a lawsuit asserting their rights, now known as “Penobscot Nation vs Mills”. Since that time, several towns have signed on as intervenors, essentially taking the side of the state against the Penobscot Nation. Orono was among them until town residents learned about what was happening and pressured the town to withdraw. Now the Penobscot Nation is hoping that more towns will do the same if they know more about what is happening and what the stakes are.
    On April 30th, Maria Girouard of the Penobscot Nation — a frequent guest on WERU’s “Wabanaki Windows”—was a guest speaker at the Bucksport Town Council meeting. Bucksport is one of the towns along the river that have signed on as intervenors, but it became clear at the meeting that the council was very open to learning more. John Greenman attended and recorded the meeting, and we bring you there today. One more note before we get started, about a name you’ll hear mentioned a few times. Matt Manahan is an attorney for Pierce Atwood, the law firm representing the interveners. He’s also the author of an August 2012 article in the Bangor Daily News in which he said the Penobscot Nation had “endless Federal resources” and warned readers of dire consequences should they win their lawsuit, including: “What does it mean for you if the Penobscots prevail? They will regulate your hunting, trapping and fishing on the river. They will regulate municipal and other discharges into the river and some of its branches and tributaries, even though such discharges are already carefully controlled by the state and federal governments. If you live in a town that borders the river and thought your town ran to the middle of the river in accordance with Maine law — surprise! If you paddle, fish or otherwise use the Penobscot River in any way, you will now confront a new regulator telling you what you can or can’t do and how much it will cost you to do it. And, unlike state regulators, the Penobscots won’t even be obligated to listen to your concerns about the impact of their regulations; you will have no control or influence over those regulations. The Penobscots have even announced they intend to close the river to trapping and require a permit to access the river for any reason, making it their exclusive domain.” Manahan’s article concluded “There’s no question the history of the treatment of Indians in this country includes tragic episodes of overwhelming resources used to renege on commitments previously made. It’s ironic the same scenario is happening again, with roles reversed.” (bangordailynews.com/2014/08/06/opinion/contributors/role-reversal-how-the-penobscot-nation-is-suing-maine-and-has-the-upper-hand/)
    As you’ll hear, Maria Giroaurd and others strongly disagree with his portrayal

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  • Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco

    Issue: Environmental and Social Justice

    Program Topic: Penobscot Chief Francis responds to Governor LePage’s Reversal of Order Promoting Cooperation with Tribes

    Key Discussion Points:
    a) Today we speak again with Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis.This weekend, Governor Lepage’s office sent an email to Wabanaki Tribal leaders announcing a new executive order, signed April 16th, that rescinds the Governor’s 2011 order promoting cooperation and coordination between the Stat and the Wabanaki Tribes within Maine. (copy of executive order: www.pressherald.com/2015/04/21/lepage-rescinds-order-promoting-state-cooperation-with-indian-tribes/document/2/).
    b) Despite the original executive order, which included directing state agencies to reach out to the Tribes on issues effecting them, Chief Francis outlines numerous instances, during the LePage administration, in which they have not felt state cooperation. This includes elver fishing and tribal saltwater fisheries rights, protective water quality standards in sustenance fishing waters, fishing monitoring jurisdiction in sustenance fishing waters in the Penobscot River, and rights under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VOWA).
    c) We also speak with the Peace and justice Center of Eastern Maine about their 21st annual Hope Festival, taking place this Saturday in Orono.

    Guests:
    Chief Kirk Francis, Penobscot Nation, penobscotnation.org
    Amy Hughes, Peace and justice Center of Eastern Maine, peacectr.org/wp/hope_2015/schedule-of-events/

    www.pressherald.com/2015/04/21/lepage-rescinds-order-promoting-state-cooperation-with-indian-tribes/

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  • Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco

    Issue: Environmental and Social Justice

    Program Topic: EPA Decision: Maine Water Quality Standards are Not Protective of Tribes; The Environmental Impacts of Metallic Mining as Maine looks to Open the State for Irving Project

    Key Discussion Points:

    a) On February 2nd, the US EPA issued a decision that the state of Maine’s water quality standards are not stringent enough in tribal waters. Maine has been directed to strengthen these standards in compliance with protection of tribal sustenance fishing rights under the federal Clean Water Act.

    b) We speak with Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis on the importance of this decision to the tribe. And we look at the State of Maine’s inflamatory public relations offensive, primarily through Pierce Atwood attorney Matt Manahan, to re-frame the issue as a tribal power grab that will cost dischargers all along the Penobscot River millions of dollars. We also look at the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act, and a landmark case currently in the courts, Penobscot Nation v Mills, in which the Penobscot Nation is suing the Maine Attorney General’s office for it’s 2012 attempt to disassociate the water flowing through the Penobscot Nation from it’s tribal territory.

    c) We also hear part of a presentation on the environmental destruction caused by metallic mining, given by Nick Bennett, staff scientist for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. Maine lawmakers are attempting to rush through previously rejected DEP rules that would open Maine to metallic mining. LD 146, is being hopscotched over the requirement under Maine’s Administrative Procedures Act (MAPA) that proposed rule changes must have a public hearing before the DEP, prior to proceeding to the legislature. Proponents of the rule changes say, the MAPA requirements can be worked around. The Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources is holding it’s public hearing on LD 146 on February 25th, at 9am at the Augusta State House.

    Guests:
    Chief Kirk Francis, Penobscot Nation, penobscotnation.org
    Nick Bennett, staff scientist, Natural Resources Council of Maine www.nrcm.org

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  • Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco

    Issue: Environmental and Social Justice

    Program Topic: Reactions to Elections by people working on social and environmental issues

    Key Discussion Points:
    a) Today we hear some reflections on the mid term elections, both state and national, by people who work on social and environmental issues within Maine.
    b) Guests reflect on at the continued probable impacts on labor, healthcare, social safety net, international free trade agreements, tribal sovereignty, environmental health and climate change.
    c) Guests also emphasize the need for people to work outside of the political-economic system to make impactful change at a community level, particularly to address climate change.

    Guests:
    A) Emery Deabay, president of the United Steelworkers of Maine, union local 1188. .Deabay has worked at the Verso paper milll for over 30 years. He has been active in the Maine Fair Trade Campaign and the Brewer based organization Food and Medicine.
    B) Sherri Mitchell, indigenous rights attorney, environmental activist, member of the Penobscot Nation
    C) Hedi Brugger, 350 Maine, Seeds for Justice

    1 Comment
  • Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco

    Issue: Environmental and Social Justice

    Program Topic:
    Maria Girouard of the Penobscot Nation gives an overview of the historic conflict over Wabanaki territory and sovereignty between the state and tribes, up to present

    Key Discussion Points:
    1. Penobscot Nation member Maria Girouard spoke to a class at the Maine Maritime Academy, in Castine, titled “Communities and Conflict.”
    2. Girourad spoke on the impacts of historical, or intergenerational, trauma, explicitly how past and unfolding policies of colonization have impacted the Wabanaki tribes present within Maine’s borders.
    3. Maria Girouard gives an historical overview of the conflict between the state and the tribes concerning Wabanaki territory, and the state’s continuing position on tribal land, water, fishing rights and sovereignty, including the current case in US District Court, Penobscot Nation vs. State Attorney General Janet Mills, et al

    Guest:
    Maria Girouard, member of the Penobscot Nation, environmental activist, community organizer. She is currently the Welness Coordinator for Maien Wbanaki REACH ( mainewabanakireach.org ), the organization facilitating the work of the Maine Wabanaki State Chile Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Girouard served as the Penobscot Nation’s director of Cultural and Historic Preservation 2006-2011, and was a member of the Penobscot Tribal Council 2012-to 2014

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  • Producer/Host: Amy Browne

    Segment 1: A rally in Skowhegan Monday kicked off efforts here in Maine to follow the lead of cities like Seattle and Minneapolis, and replace “Columbus Day” with a holiday called “Indigenous People’s Day”. Former Penobscot Chief Barry Dana organized the event:

    Segment 2: Students in Bangor are raising money to help provide access to clean drinking water in the West African country of Burkina Faso. We spoke with 2 of the organizers of this year’s annual
    benefit race, which will be taking place on the Bangor waterfront this weekend:

    Segment 3: A few other events happening this weekend: Saturday evening at 7 at the UU Church in Bangor, Sister Cities coordinator Cori Ring-Martinez, and Edith Portillo of the Association for the Development of El Salvador will be speaking on the topic of “Crossing Borders: Organizing in El Salvador and the U.S.: How US policy created the immigration humanitarian crisis, how the Salvadoran government and social movements are responding, and what international solidarity can do to help”. Also on Saturday, from 2-8pm, there will be a concert and fundraiser to benefit the Penobscot Nation’s defense of their ancestral River. There will be an opportunity to learn more about the Penobscot’s battle with the State of Maine in Penobscot Nation v. Mills, and hear about threats to the watershed. That will be held at the Sockalexis Arena on Indian Island. More information is available at the Justice for the River! facebook page.

    Segment 4: While all these events are happening, there is also a group of people walking across the state to draw attention to what they say is Maine’s “growing dependence on military production”. One of the organizers is Bruce Gagnon, of Maine Veterans for Peace and the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space:

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  • Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco

    Issue: Environmental and Social Justice

    Program Topic: An Interview with Chief Kirk Francis on the Penobscot Nation’s Proposed Water Quality Standards Hearing and Current Legal Challenges.

    Key Discussion Points:
    a) We speak with Penobscot Chief Kirk Francis on the tribe’s proposed water quality standards and current legal challenges.
    b) Last week the Penobscot Nation held a public hearing on it’s proposed Surface Water Quality Standards.The tribe wishes to strengthen current standards for the waters within Penobscot tribal territories, most specifically to address the health of fish consumed by tribal members. Following public input, the Penobscot Nation will present their standards to the US Environmental Protection Agency for approval, as allowed under the federal Clean Water Act for federally recognized tribes.
    c) Earlier this month, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and Maine Dept of Environmental Protection Commissioner, Patrica Aho, filed suit against the US EPA in attempts to establish jurisdiction. The Penobsacot Nation also currently has a case against the Maine Attorney General’s Office to likewise establish he definition of tribal waters and the tribe’s sovereign right to control water quality.

    Guests:
    A) Chief Kirk Francis of the Penobscot Nation

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  • Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco

    Issue: Environmental and Social Justice

    Program Topic: The Penobscot Nation’s Proposed Water Quality Standards Hearing and Interview with Chief Kirk Francis

    Key Discussion Points:

    a) We hear some of the testimony at the Penobscot Nation’s public hearing on it’s proposed Surface Water Quality Standards.The tribe wishes to strengthen current standards for the waters within Penobscot tribal territories, most specifically to address the health of fish consumed by tribal members. Following public input, the Penobscot Nation will present their standards to the US Environmental Protection Agency for approval, as allowed under the federal Clean Water Act for federally recognized tribes.
    b) We also speak with Penobscot Chief Kirk Francis on the water quality standards and on the current legal challenges. (We continue our interview with Chief Francis in next week’s program on 8-14-14)
    c) Earlier this month, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and Maine Dept of Environmental Protection Commissioner, Patrica Aho, filed suit against the US EPA in attempts to establish jurisdiction. The Penobsacot Nation also currently has a case against the Maine Attorney General’s Office to likewise establish he definition of tribal waters and the tribe’s sovereign right to control water quality.

    Guests:
    A) Jean Lewey, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Tribal member
    B) Reena Loure (sp?), Penobscot Tribal member
    C) Reuben “Butch” Phillips, Penobscot Tribal member
    D) James Sappier, former Chief of Penobscot Nation
    E)Sherri Mitchell, Penobscot Tribal member
    F) Chief Kirk Francis of the Penobscot Nation

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