The state of Maine is insisting that the Penobscot Nation’s reservation, which consists of islands in the Penobscot River, does not include the river itself. Why? One reason is that the state’s water quality standards are not up to federal requirements.

Recently, when the Penobscot Nation attempted to enact water quality standards that were as stringent as federal ones, in order to ensure their tribal members’ health and safety, the state pushed back, saying the Penobscots had no jurisdiction over the river. Currently, the Penobscot Nation is spending great quantities of time and money fighting a battle that is in all our best interests.

They are suing the state to re-establish the fact that indeed the river is part of their territory and that they have jurisdiction to act to protect it (Penobscot Nation v. Janet T. Mills).

Don’t we want our waters to be at least as clean and healthy as national standards (which some claim aren’t high enough)? The Penobscot Nation deserves our gratitude, but they need our support as well.

The towns of Millinocket, East Millinocket, Lincoln, Brewer, Howland, Bucksport, Mattawamkeag and Orono, which have discharge permits on the river, have sided with the state in the lawsuit. You have a right to ask questions of your town officials and/or insist that they withdraw from this action.

You may also want to contact Attorney General Janet Mills and express your opinion. We should thank the Penobscots for their efforts to protect the waters we all share.

Shirley Hager