In support of act that would help Maine tribes

To the editor:

A very important justice bill is about to be considered by the Maine state legislature — a consensus product of several bipartisan committees. LD 1626 (An Act Implementing the Recommendations of a Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act) will help reverse some of the unfortunate restrictions on Wabanaki sovereignty in the Implementing Act, which accompanied the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980.

In the late 1970s, the Wabanakis of Maine (Maliseets, Micmacs, Penobscots and Passamaquoddies) owned about two-thirds of Maine according to the federal government.  The land claims settlement awarded over $80 million for land purchase and other matters, plus granting to the Houlton Band of Maliseets the status of a federally recognized tribe, joining those tribes to the south (the Aroostook Band of Micmacs came in the 1990s).

The Implementation Act has been a disaster.  Since 1980 over 150 laws were passed by the federal government to benefit the other 570 federally recognized tribes in the USA, and thereby also benefit the communities surrounding them.  However the federally recognized tribes in Maine were excluded because of the Implementation Act.

LD 1626 would allow inclusion of Wabanaki tribes in these benefits, except for gaming, which is in another bill (LD 554) already passed by the Maine legislature but vetoed by Gov. Mills.

With passage of LD 1626 the Houlton Band can provide even more millions to the greater Houlton area economy than it already has via jobs, purchases and infrastructure, let alone in the past many billons if you consider the pristine land the settlers and lumber barons who took over in the 1700s followed by thousands of “newcomers” to Aroostook County, including us, of course.

Extensive information about LD 1626 and the need for its passage by the Maine legislature and signed by Gov. Mills can be found at: hppts://wabanakialliance.com Please join us in urging our Maine legislators and Gov. Mills to support LD 1626.

Harrison and Marilyn Roper

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