"A group set up to foster discussion of tribal issues has done a lot to improve relations between lawmakers and the state’s Indian tribes. The Tribal-State Working Group should be continued so it can get to difficult issues that have resulted in litigation in the past. Lawmakers should support LD 1263, which will continue the group’s work for another year.
Tribal-state relations reached a low ebb a few years ago after a lengthy legal battle over water-quality regulation and opposition to tribal proposals to build casinos. In 2003, representatives of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation, the state’s largest tribes, left the Maine Indian Tribal State Commission to protest the state’s role in the referendum defeat of a tribal casino in southern Maine and the lack of progress on deciding issues of sovereignty. Although MITSC is now functional again, disagreements over the effects of the 1980 Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act and the accompanying Maine Implementing Act remain.
After meeting with tribal governors and chiefs last spring, Gov. John Baldacci agreed a new forum was needed to discuss, and hopefully settle, these disagreements. So, he created the Tribal-State Working Group to Study Issues Associated with the Maine Implementing Act. The group includes lawmakers, representatives of the state’s five tribes, a gubernatorial representative and the chair of MITSC.
LD 1263, which is the subject of a work session slated for this afternoon before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, would extend the group’s term until January 2008 at a cost of $15,000."
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Editorial: Tribal-state progress
(The Bangor Daily News 4/10)
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