Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco
This week the Maine Legislature’s Judiciary Committee continued to consider legislation that would address some of the longstanding detrimental impacts of the 1980 Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act on the Wabanaki Tribes, and recognize their status as equal to the other 570 federally recognized Tribes.
On February 15th, a record-breaking number of testimonies were heard at a public hearing for over eight hours in support of LD 1626, “An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act”.
The bill includes 22 recommendations developed by a Task Force convened in 2019, made up of bipartisan legislative representatives, the Tribal Chiefs of the Penobscot Nation, Passamaquoddy at Sipayik and Motahkomikuk, the Houlton Band of the Maliseets, and the Mi’kmaq Nation, and ex offcio representation from the State Attorney General’s, Governor’s Offices and the Maine Indian Tribal State Commission(MITSC). The recommendations include changes to policy regarding trust land acquisition, use of land and natural resources, hunting and fishing, taxation, criminal jurisdiction, civil jurisdiction, and the applicability of federal laws to the Tribes within Maine. Currently, the Wabanaki Tribes are exempt from federal laws passed effecting other federally recognized Tribes, unless the law explicitly includes them, an action the State of Maine has often subverted. Recent examples include the Violence Against Women Act, the Indian Health Improvement Act, the Stafford Act, regarding federal disaster funds.
A third work session on LD 1626 “An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act”will be held Tuesday, March 15th at 1pm, when a Committee vote is expected.
Vice Chief Darrell Newell, Passamaquoddy at Motahkomikuk
Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross
Chief Kirk Francis, Penobscot Nation
Chief Clarissa Sabattis, Houlton Band of Maliseets
Lee Francis, Penobscot Nation Tribal Council
Chief Maggie Dana, Passamaquoddy at Sipayik
Today’s program was co-produced by WERU FM/RadioActive and Sunlight Media Collective, including Mali Obamsawin, Lokotah Sanborn, Dawn Neptune Adams, Maria Giroaurd, Andrea DeFrancesco, Nickie Sekera and Meredith DeFrancesco.
Sunlight Media Collective, documents and presents issues affecting Indigenous people from Wabanaki perspectives, highlighting the intersection between environmental justice and Tribal sovereignty.