We find it beyond comprehension that, on June 15, the Maine Senate voted to continue hiding sections of the Maine Constitution from public view.

In rejecting L.D. 428 – an Amendment to Article X of the Constitution of Maine Regarding the Publication of Maine Indian Treaty Obligations – the Senate chose to dishonor not only Maine’s Native peoples, but also the integrity of Maine’s governing process.

Mainers might not know that when Maine separated from Massachusetts in 1820, Maine accepted and included in Section X of its new constitution the requirement to “assume and perform all the duties and obligations of this Commonwealth towards the Indians within the (new) state of Maine, whether the same arise from treaties, or otherwise. … .” In 1875, however, that passage was suppressed from written copies – although its validity was never challenged and it remained fully in force. We believe that Rep. Henry John Bear’s bill to restore Article X (and Subsection 5 in particular) to all versions of the state constitution, regardless of format, is a long-overdue attempt to set the record straight, and deserves our support.

Hiding Maine’s Native American history will not make it disappear. Transparency has the potential to further a process of healing. We are simply talking about the respectful treatment that any Maine citizen would want for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Will the citizens of Maine be forced, again, to initiate a referendum because the Legislature has failed to lead in a fashion Maine citizens can be proud of? We urge responsible legislators of good conscience to co-sponsor and encourage all their colleagues to pass a new bill that will ensure the entire Maine Constitution is always in full view and available to everyone.

Christopher Wright

Kathryn Robyn

Belfast Allies of the Wabanaki Peoples and other Maine Allies and Friends