indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
The Rise of Tribes and the Fall of Federal Indian Law
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:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tribes rest easy as Supreme Court wraps up a surprising session (6/24)
Tribes in northern California take action to protect salmon runs (6/24)
Aaron Payment re-elected as chairman of Sault Ste. Marie Tribe (6/24)
Gun Lake Tribe hosts annual Sweet Grass Moon Powwow in July (6/24)
Native Sun News: First Native hockey referee 'Butchy' passes on (6/24)
Delphine Red Shirt: Lakota people denied voting rights on our land (6/24)
Ruth Hopkins: Saving sacred Bear Butte from a massive biker bar (6/24)
Terese Mailhot: Becoming a better ally after the Orlando shooting (6/24)
April Youpee-Roll: Elizabeth Warren owes more to Indian Country (6/24)
Another land-into-trust fix reportedly being drafted in the Senate (6/24)
Federal charges filed in kidnapping of girl on Fort Peck Reservation (6/24)
Non-Indian charged for trespassing at Nambe Pueblo in New Mexico (6/24)
St. Croix Chippewa Tribe warned not to launch marijuana operation (6/24)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe breaks ground on $34M expansion at casino (6/24)
Non-Indian gaming firm loses challenge to law for new tribal casino (6/24)
Grand Ronde Tribes to finish demolition work at site of old racetrack (6/24)
Supreme Court deadlocks in closely-watched tribal jurisdiction case (6/23)
Matthew Fletcher: 'Huge win' for Mississippi Choctaw court system (6/23)
Native American Basketball Invitational draws top talent to Arizona (6/23)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe almost done with long-awaited theater (6/23)
Susanville Rancheria thanks lawmakers for help with land-into-trust (6/23)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on three bills (6/23)
Supreme Court backs affirmative action policy in long-running case (6/23)
Native Sun News: Senate committee takes on Indian Health Service (6/23)
Mark Trahant: A Republican plan to terminate Indian Health Service (6/23)
James Giago Davies: Welfare for corporations but nothing for tribes (6/23)
Peter d'Errico: Justice Clarence Thomas critiques federal Indian law (6/23)
Two charged for beating and setting woman from Crow Tribe on fire (6/23)
White House defends fracking regulation imposed on Indian lands (6/23)
Mescalero Apache woman hosts fundraiser for Miss United States (6/23)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to collect sales tax on entire reservation (6/23)
Seneca-Cayuga Nation ordered to conduct another council election (6/23)
Poarch Creek land-into-trust bill could help casino effort in Florida (6/23)
Cherokee Nation enters deal to run commercial casino in Arkansas (6/23)
Tohono O'odham Nation told to turn over casino-related documents (6/23)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee debates marijuana & sovereignty (6/22)
Major trust reform bill supported by Indian Country signed into law (6/22)
President Obama signs land-into-trust bill for Susanville Rancheria (6/22)
Chairman Jim Boyd from Colville Tribes passes away at age of 60 (6/22)
Tribes take more control of their land with HEARTH Act regulations (6/22)
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community adds another 128 acres (6/22)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge Reservation graduates celebrate (6/22)
Native Sun News: Year of Reconciliation sees another anniversary (6/22)
Former Fond du Lac Band chairman Peter Defoe passes on at 77 (6/22)
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.