Opinion: Mending tribal-state relations in Maine

"The Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission, or MITSC, is a creation of the Maine Implementing Act, Maine’s ratification of the land claims settlement between the Houlton Band of Maliseets, Passamaquoddy Tribe, Penobscot Nation, Maine, and the U.S. government. It exists to "continually review the effectiveness of the Act and the social, economic and legal relationship between the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Penobscot Nation and the State."

When President Carter signed the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act into law on October 10, 1980, all the parties expected a new era of tribal-state relations would result stressing increasing understanding and mutual benefit. Unfortunately, the tremendous good will developed after years of difficult negotiations steadily eroded reaching a low point earlier this decade.

Maine’s recent effort to seek sole authority for issuing wastewater discharge licenses under the Clean Water Act pushed tribal-state relations to a near breaking point. During the process, three paper corporations that no longer do business in Maine filed Freedom of Access Act requests seeking documents from the Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation that the tribes considered protected under the internal tribal matters language of the Maine Implementing Act.

Tribal-state relations further deteriorated during the 2002-2003 initiative campaign concerning the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot desire to construct and operate a casino in Sanford. At a MITSC meeting held two days after the November 2003 casino vote, the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot MITSC representatives walked out, effectively shutting MITSC down for 15 months. In the eyes of tribal leaders, MITSC lacked political relevance and effectiveness."

Get the Story:
John Dieffenbacher-Krall: Bill will facilitate, strengthen tribal-state relations (The Bangor Daily News 5/8)

Relevant Links: Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission - http://www.mitsc.org

Related Stories:
Maine tribe loses sovereignty dispute with state (04/18)
Editorial: Tribal-state relations in Maine improving (04/10)
Penobscot Nation to close mail-order pharmacy (03/01)
Maine governor backs Penobscot pharmacy (2/8)
Penobscot Nation's pharmacy business investigated (2/6)
Passamaquoddy Tribe rejects Maine governor (01/08)
Editorial: Maine tribes need more attention (11/22)
Forum examines legacy of tribal settlement acts (04/02)
Penobscot Nation chief addresses Maine Legislature (02/11)
EPA allows state jurisdiction over Maine tribal lands (12/3)
US sues to compensate Penobscot Nation (5/3)
Tribes ordered to release some documents (5/2)
Maine dispute heads back to court (2/12)
Go directly to jail, do not collect sovereignty... (2/7)
Tribal-environmental summit in Maine (1/24)
Maine leaders continue fight (12/4)
Leaders pledge support of Maine tribes (11/17)
Tribal leaders ordered arrested (11/10)
Water dispute heads to court (05/30)
Trending in News
More Headlines