I was glad to see your recent article highlighting the frustration and anger felt by Wabanaki leaders toward members of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee.

I served as the neutral chair of the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission from 1999 to 2004, and later as a state representative to it from 2010 to 2012.

In both capacities, I witnessed firsthand that many state officials treat the tribal entities and their officials with disdain. The tribes are co-equal sovereigns by law and should be treated accordingly. It is regrettable that they are not.

Penobscot Chief Kirk Francis is accurate in describing the relationship as “fractured.” My reading of the 1980 settlement agreement tells me that it was meant to be reviewed and adjusted over time; instead, the state has chosen to view it as a document written in stone. That is harmful to the tribes, and I believe ultimately works against the best interests of the state as well. It is time for the state to take a different and more positive approach to the situation.

Cushman D. Anthony