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Unsettled: Questions linger on Passamaquoddy leadership






A sign to Indian Township, one of the reservations of the Passamaquoddy Tribe in Maine. Photo from Maine Encyclopedia

The Portland Press Herald continues its Unsettled series with Chapter 24 about new leadership of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township:
Billy and his brothers – including current council member Leslie Nicholas and current Indian Township Police Chief Alex Nicholas – spent their early years in southern Maine, moving with their parents to the reservation after the tribe won federal recognition. Their father, Carl, served as lieutenant governor in the 1990s, and his great-uncle, Joseph Nicholas, was the first tribal representative to the Legislature.

Billy and Alex trained in law enforcement and were serving together as tribal police officers in 1989, the year the two made the newspapers for their role in a physical confrontation with tribal game wardens. The Nicholas brothers and two wardens were all suspended from their jobs after the incident, which occurred after they responded to a call from a policeman in Princeton whose cruiser had struck a deer. No further details were disclosed.

In 1997, Billy – by then serving as a tribal game warden himself – applied to join the Maine State Police. He passed the written and oral exams but failed a background check. Billy sued, alleging racial discrimination, but was unsuccessful. His effort to join the Maine Warden Service was also unsuccessful.

Bill Randall, a non-Passamaquoddy hired as a tribal fish and wildlife consultant, says he played a role in torpedoing Nicholas’ bid to become a Maine warden by relating incidents of heavy-handed behavior toward non-tribal hunters transiting tribal lands.

“He was openly prejudiced and hated white people so badly that one morning (in October 1999) on the South Branch Road north of Jackman he falsely arrested a white father and son for night hunting,” Randall said in a written statement to the Press Herald. Randall said he and a tribal game warden were able to get the charges dismissed, for which they both faced “threats of violence” from Nicholas.

Billy Nicholas declined multiple interview requests for this story.

Get the Story:
New leader, new scrutiny on where the money goes (The Portland Press Herald 7/22)

Related Stories:
Unsettled Ch. 23: Passamaquoddy leader indicted for stealing (7/21)
Unsettled Ch. 20: Passamaquoddy Tribe still lacks constitution (7/18)
Unsettled Ch. 19: Passamaquoddy Tribe restricts right to vote (7/17)
Report faults Maine over dealings with Passamaquoddy Tribe (7/16)