Francis on Maine Commission Report: Tribe’s Complaints Are Justified

Gale Courey Toensing
7/20/14

Following a new report that says Maine lawmakers violated the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act with the passing of a law this spring that limited the Passamaquoddy Tribe’s jurisdiction over elvers fishing without the tribe’s consent, Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis said in a statement the tribe’s complaints have been proven justified.

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Francis said, “It is clear from this report that the complaints of the Wabanaki in Maine have been justified. This report documents total disregard of the statutory rights of the tribes that require our consent to any change in the negotiated settlement. By using legal instruments that are not in the spirit of the law to influence legislation on aboriginal rights and place these rights under state law, the legislature is trying to make the tribes perpetual wards of the State. What’s more deplorable is that the state takes this approach on the most important core right of the tribes which is their right to a subsistence and sustenance lifestyle and our right to self-govern it. It is crucial that all of the parties return to the table to resolve this conflict.”

The carefully researched 41-page report, co-written by Jamie Bissonette Lewey, chair of the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission (MITSC) and Commissioner Dr. Gail Dana-Sacco and researched by MITSC Executive Director John Dieffenbacher-Krall, called “Assessment of the Intergovernmental Saltwater Fisheries Conflict Between Passamaquoddy and the State of Maine” found that the legislature violated the MICSA by circumventing its amendment process when it legislated on saltwater fishery issues without the consent of the Passamaquoddy Tribe in 1998, 2013, and 2014.

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