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