I’d like to refute a statement made in the March 2 article on the research presentation of the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act enactment.

When Passamaquoddy Chief Bill Nicholas spoke, it was more than just tribal members who applauded. The Judiciary Committee chambers were full, and two adjacent overflow rooms were opened. I was there, as a non-native person, in support of Wabanaki people. And when Chief Nicholas spoke from his heart about the paternalistic relationship the state has held over the tribes, non-native people also applauded.

Why mention this seemingly minor detail? Because coverage of this event, and those like it, often omits the larger context – that there is a growing movement of support for native people. This issue is important not only to tribal members, but also to lots of people in Maine who’ve been listening to the Wabanaki people, hear their calls for sovereignty and respect that.

By omitting this type of information, the Portland Press Herald is complicit in divisive politics (a common trend with mainstream media) that relegate “indigenous issues” to indigenous people only, when in fact these issues concern us all.

To be clear – this isn’t about non-native people taking credit for being there. This is about accurate reporting. People are awakening in response to our current politics. In Maine, non-native people are listening to Wabanaki leadership, and this base of support is growing, thanks to strong Wabanaki organizing. More people will join in as people learn to be engaged. People need to be informed. Yet, in the article, it’s implied that only tribal members showed up.

So what can we do? There is a rally at the State House from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday (March 10) to stand in solidarity with Standing Rock and the movement here to Wabanaki territory. Join us! You won’t be alone!

Dan Marks

Portland