BANGOR — Chief Kirk Francis of Maine’s Penobscot Indian Nation is praising the U.S. decision to reverse course and support a United Nations declaration defending the rights of indigenous peoples.

Francis says the announcement last week opens “a new dialogue to start to talk about our federal relationship” and provides a template “on how native people are to be treated.”

While it’s not legally binding, President Barack Obama told Native American leaders that the declaration affirms the importance and cultures of native peoples throughout the world.

John Dieffenbacher-Krall is executive director of the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission. He tells the Bangor Daily News that it’s good news for Maine tribes, but he says it’s sad that the United States was the last country to sign the declaration.