AUGUSTA — Today, the Legislature advanced a proposal to ensure that Wabanaki Nations benefit from future federal laws that apply to the other 570 federally recognized tribes with strong bipartisan support. The vote was 100-47 in the House and 26-8 in the Senate.
In response, Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, released the following statement:
“For too long, the state’s relationship with the Wabanaki nation has amounted to nothing more than symbolic gestures and empty promises — and this is at the best of times. For much longer, the state’s relationship with the Wabanaki people was far worse. In recent years, the Legislature has made great strides in repairing the fraught relationship between our governments by setting up a commission to examine the 1980 Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act, supporting economic development and improving access to clean drinking water. Yet, we’ve still fallen short of what we owe our Indigenous neighbors when it comes to respecting tribal sovereignty and self-determination.
“With this passage of LD 2004, the Maine Legislature begins to honor the inherent sovereignty of the Wabanaki Nations, finally matching our words with substantive action. This is by no means the end of our work to respect our neighbors’ inherent rights and restore this vital relationship. But it is an enormous step in the right direction.
“So next time Congress asks whether Maine thinks the Wabanaki Nations deserve the same federal benefits granted to the other 570 federally recognized tribes, let there be no doubt where we stand. Tonight, we’ve made that unequivocally clear. The Maine Legislature and Maine people proudly stand in solidarity with our Wabanaki neighbors. It’s time they get the federal benefits they are owed. It is long overdue. I want to thank Speaker Talbot Ross for bringing this bill forward and Senators Carney and Bailey for their work to shepherd this vital piece of legislation through the Judiciary Committee.”