Staff Writer Randy Billings needs to look closer in “Mills picks attorney for environmental protection chief” (Jan. 1). Qualifications aside, Jerry Reid has played an integral role in perpetrating the racism against tribal people in our state.

During her run for governor, Janet Mills defended her position in Penobscot Nation v. Mills, a case I believe to be racist, in which Assistant Attorney General Reid represented then-Attorney General Mills and the state. When pressed during her campaign, Mills said she was just doing her job. Mills said on multiple occasions that she wants to improve tribal relations despite her sketchy past as attorney general.

Unfortunately, while getting publicity and praise for almost everything, she is already going back on her word.

Penobscot Nation v. Mills is the latest territorial taking from the tribes – in this case, tribal water rights on the reservation. The legalese used to justify this water grab is horrifying: The injustice of taking even more from these river people, especially their water rights, is absurd on its face.

The case and Reid himself exemplified and perpetuate the racist principles our country was founded on in the name of consolidating land, money and power for a few at the expense of many. The state’s paternalistic action to control access and resources at the behest of corporations, building roads and pipelines across indigenous territory and enabling lax wastewater discharges into the Penobscot River, is what racism looks like in the present day.

Nominating Reid as one of Mills’ first acts is a slap in the face to indigenous people and doesn’t bode well for improving tribal relations. I call on my senator, Brownie Carson, as well as Rep. Ralph Tucker, heads of the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee, to vote down this nominee. Please join with me in contacting them and saying “no” to status-quo racism!

Ashley Bahlkow

North Yarmouth


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