On behalf of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, I want to express my profound thanks and gratitude to all those individuals and organizations who worked to defeat the weak proposed mining rules that came before the Legislature earlier this year.

These rules would have seriously threatened water quality in Maine. I also want to thank the many legislators who voted against this ill-considered and ill-advised bill.

Since first proposed in 2012, the threat of weak mining rules has been of very great concern to tribal leadership, elders, youth – our entire community. These rules presented the high likelihood of irreversible and devastating damage to Maine’s rivers, lakes and streams from acid mine drainage.

Such damage would likely have occurred first at a mining project already proposed for Bald Mountain in Aroostook County, where our band lives and practices our culture and traditions.

Bald Mountain is also within the watershed of the St. John River. We call it the “Wolastoq,” which means “beautiful, flowing river.” We call ourselves “Wolastoqiwik” (people of that river).

Water is sacred to us. We Maliseets have fished, trapped, hunted and gathered in and around the waters of the Wolastoq/St. John for thousands of years. We want to be able to continue our cultural traditions and practices here in our ancestral homeland for thousands more.

As an elder and an elected leader of my tribe, I am charged with the responsibility of protecting the health and welfare of our community and sustaining and renewing our traditional ways and ancient cultural ties to the environment. We, too, testified in person and in writing against these weak mining rules.

We know the health and welfare of all Maine people depend on clean water, now and for many generations to come. It was heartening to hear many of the citizens and legislators of our state agree.

Woliwon (Thank you).