indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Unsettled: Passamaquoddy Tribe awaits constitutional reform

Filed Under: National
More on: maine, passamaquoddy
   


A view of the Passamaquoddy Reservation at Pleasant Point in Maine. Photo by Ken Gallagher / Wikipedia

The Portland Press Herald wraps up its Unsettled series with Chapter 29 about the need for a joint constitution for the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point and at Indian Township. An epilogue will be published this Sunday:
A few hundred impoverished wards of the state, denied the right to vote in state elections and even the basic police, fire and medical services other Mainers took for granted, took on the state of Maine and the U.S. Department of the Interior, blasting apart the legal assumptions that had denied sovereignty to Eastern Indian tribes. Against seemingly impossible odds, they negotiated a historic land claims settlement that redefined their status, ensuring they would never again be treated as wards and, as a 19th century Maine court ruled, “imbeciles.”

They and their allies first took on racist barbers and state patrolmen, then the governor of Maine and the U.S. secretary of the Interior. In the process, their chiefs were targeted for sanctions, their first legal champion was railroaded through the courts, and their second was showered with death threats. But the Passamaquoddy persevered, and in doing so transformed the foundations of U.S. Indian law and policy to the benefit of dozens of tribes across the Eastern United States. They won themselves a trust fund, federal recognition, the means to expand their land holdings more than fivefold, and a great degree of sovereignty and self-government.

But that one hurdle remains: ensuring the rule of law at home, that essential underpinning of economic, social, and political prosperity the world over. The Passamaquoddy need an effective constitution, and the vast majority of them appear to want one.

What the Passamaquoddy’s constitution looks like will be up to them. Those that have been voted on in the past are modeled on the U.S. system, with a separate judiciary and power divided between governors, the Joint Tribal Council, and the people themselves, who can force certain actions through a referendum process.

Others argue for a more traditional system, whereby supreme power lies in a circle of female elders – Clan Mothers – who must act by consensus and whose orders are carried out by chiefs. “The Clan Mothers would be on the top, and they would put the decisions down on the council and chiefs who would be the ones who would carry them out,” says Plansowes Dana, an advocate for tribal fishing and hunting rights from Pleasant Point, who says people still know who the Clan Mothers are.

One of them, several tribal members said, would be Mary Bassett of Pleasant Point, who says that under Passamaquoddy traditional governance, women played a central role. “It was a matriarchy really, and they had to have consensus,” she says. “But even if you didn’t agree, you didn’t make trouble.” The central purpose, which she and many other tribal members lament has been lost, was simple: “We just took care of each other.”

Many tribal members who spoke to the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram emphasized that people no longer look out for one another the way they did 40 or 50 years ago. Neighbors used to send their children to do household chores for the sick and pregnant mothers, and everyone parented the kids. The coming of the land claims, many said, has weakened those impulses, turning the tribe into more of a collection of competing individuals.

Get the Story:
‘We are getting stronger’ (The Portland Press Herald 7/27)

Over the Weekend:
Reservation leadership changes, though little else does (The Portland Press Herald 7/26)

Related Stories:
Unsettled: BIA questions Passamaquoddy forest management (7/25)
Unsettled Ch. 26: Passamaquoddy dealings cloaked in secrecy (7/24)
Unsettled: Free speech costs dearly at Passamaquoddy Tribe (7/23)
Unsettled: Questions linger on Passamaquoddy leadership (7/22)
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)


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Tribes united against Keystone XL Pipeline (9/19)
Regina Brave: The earth that once was will soon be no more (9/19)
Chelsey Luger and Gyasi Ross: A conversation about suicide (9/19)
Cobell settlement checks being cashed across Indian Country (9/19)
Congress passes measure for tribal general welfare programs (9/19)
Native Sun News: US Senate candidates debate Native issues (9/18)
Cobell settlement checks landing in Indian Country mailboxes (9/18)
Sen. Walsh welcomes arrival of last Cobell settlement payout (9/18)
Rep. Daines praises House action on tribal general welfare bill (9/18)
Winnebago attorney joins BIA as a deputy assistant secretary (9/18)
NWIFC schedules briefing on 'Treaty Rights 101' on Capitol Hill (9/18)
Norbert Hill: It's past time to drop the Washington NFL mascot (9/18)
Peter d'Errico: Connecting mascots to racism and termination (9/18)
Opinion: Eliminating NFL team's racist mascot is just the start (9/18)
Student newspaper punished over refusal to print the R-word (9/18)
Officer investigated for 'drunk uneducated animals' comment (9/18)
9th Circuit rules against Chemehuevi Tribe in land deed case (9/18)
Mashable: Oglala Sioux man still pushing MazaCoin currency (9/18)
City won't allow vote on Tohono O'odham Nation casino plan (9/18)
9th Circuit poses tough questions in Big Lagoon casino case (9/18)
North Fork Rancheria banks on voter approval of casino deal (9/18)
KBIC judge dismisses lawsuit challenging plan for new casino (9/18)
Oneida Nation concerned about location of commercial casino (9/18)
Mashantucket Tribe's gaming executive to resign next month (9/18)
Column: Time for Mohegan Tribe to show its hand over casino (9/18)
Native Sun News: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe honors veterans (9/17)
Mark Trahant: Is independence in the future for tribal nations? (9/17)
Audio: SCIA takes up bill to bar Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/17)
House approves bill to address tribal general welfare programs (9/17)
House Natural Resources Committee sets markup on tribal bills (9/17)
House subcommittee to hold hearing on bill for Hualapai Tribe (9/17)
9th Circuit takes up Big Lagoon Rancheria gaming land dispute (9/17)
House passes bill to shield Gun Lake Tribe casino from litigation (9/17)
Andre Cramblit: Enjoying life at Dartmouth as a Native student (9/17)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Tribes need to lead climate change reform (9/17)
Sarah Deer wins genius grant for work to protect Native women (9/17)
Tex Hall loses bid for another term as chair of North Dakota tribe (9/17)
Group starts dragging of river in search of missing Native women (9/17)
Appeal filed over Navajo language ability of presidential hopeful (9/17)
Trial delayed for leader of Muscogee Nation accused in theft case (9/17)
Editorial: Pass bill to extend federal recognition to Virginia tribes (9/17)
NLRB reaffirms jurisdiction over Little River Band gaming facility (9/17)
Chumash Tribe to use labor unions for all work on casino project (9/17)
Student arrested over theft at Saginaw Chippewa Tribe's casino (9/17)
Native Sun News: Homeless students find support in Rapid City (9/16)
Checks from final payment of Cobell settlement put in the mail (9/16)
DOI offers $9.4M for Cobell buy-backs on Umatilla Reservation (9/16)
House takes up bill to address tribal general welfare programs (9/16)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.