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Penobscot Nation seeks a new start in rocky dealings with state

The Penobscot River runs through the Penobscot Nation in Maine but the state refused to recognize the tribe's authority. A federal judge has since sided with the state on the matter but the tribe is appealing. Photo by Cheryl Daigle

The Penobscot Nation has formally vacated its seat in the Maine Legislature, The Portland Press Herald reports.

The tribe withdrew its representative in May 2015 after years of setbacks. But rather than rejoin the body, the tribe is appointing full-time "government relations ambassador" to serve as its contact point with the state, the paper reported.

“We really started to look at the tribe’s relationship with the state but also what we are trying to accomplish," Chief Kirk Francis told the paper. “We are a sovereign tribe with our own government. Is it productive to sit there in a non-voting role watching tribal bill after tribal bill not get approved?”

The tribe first sent a representative to the Legislature in 1832. But while the person could introduce and speak on bills, he or she could never vote.

The Passamaquoddy Tribe (Pleasant Point and Indian Township) withdrew its representative last year and did not participate in the 2016 session.

The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians has continued to maintain its representative.

Get the Story:
Penobscots vacate seat in Maine Legislature (The Portland Press Herald 6/20)

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