Opinion: Maine waters need tribal protections

"A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980 trumps Indian sovereignty: "The explicit language of the Settlement Act establishes state authority that far exceeds what is normal for Indian tribes to which no such legislation applies."

The tribes through their sovereign status have helped Maine protect its land from being used as a low-level nuclear waste depository since 1986. Without tribal protection, the state of Maine could very well be a dumping ground for nuclear waste and Maine’s environment could be extremely polluted. Maine may need our help in the future, but without our sovereign status and federal recognition we would be helpless to intervene.

There is a long history between the tribes and who some perceive as the greatest water polluters of our time, the paper companies. The Penobscot Nation is located on an Island in the Penobscot River with three paper companies to the north and three paper companies to the south. In the past, these paper companies have been permitted to discharge toxins into the river without consequence.

The Penobscot Nation took matters into their own hands and hired their own experts in water testing. The results of these tests showed high levels of toxins in the water and these test results were used to hold paper companies accountable. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection was forced to take action."

Get the Story:
Donna Loring: Indian Claims Settlement Act a travesty (The Bangor Daily News 8/15)

Court Decision:
Maine v. EPA (August 8, 2007)

Relevant Documents:
EPA Federal Register Notice | PDF version

Relevant Links:
Penobscot Nation - http://www.penobscotnation.org
Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point - http://www.wabanaki.com
Passamaquoddy Tribe, Indian Township - http://www.peopleofthedawn.com

Related Stories:
Maine tribes disappointed by defeat in court (8/10)
Sovereignty limits on Maine tribes upheld (8/10)
EPA allows state jurisdiction over Maine tribal lands (12/3)