The Portland Press Herald has shown little depth in covering the taking of tribal water rights and sovereignty by the state of Maine. It’s frustrating how superficial and biased their coverage has been on Gov. Mills’ nomination of Gerald Reid to lead the Department of Environmental Protection and the lengthy and important backstory around Reid’s role in violating tribal sovereignty.

Neither the Press Herald nor Maine Public Radio is properly respecting tribal representatives’ clear explanations and communications of their disapproval and concern.

Politics as usual: Just because Mills is better than Paul LePage doesn’t mean we should condone everything she does!

She’s not always on the side of justice and won’t always get it right. She got it wrong as attorney general in Penobscot v. Mills and in the state’s lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency over water-quality standards for tribal sustenance fishing.

We want our elected leaders to admit wrongdoing, and progress and learn from mistakes. By nominating Reid to the DEP, Mills is doing the opposite. She’s denying unjust actions and upholding cronyism politics.

Voicelessness of the average citizen: We’re also profoundly frustrated that our voices and the collective voices of Mainers opposing Reid were not ultimately impactful.


Many packed into even the overflow room at the committee hearing in Augusta last Wednesday, with the vast majority opposing Reid. So many of us submitted testimony articulating our concerns.

We have written our legislators. We wrote to our senator, Brownie Carson (chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee), without response. Still, not one committee member opposed Reid. Ben Chipman was the only legislator who voted “no” on the Senate floor. (Thanks, Ben!)

Is there a way to seek justice or end the perpetuated paradigm of stealing indigenous territory within the current arenas and forums we access? Sadly, but unsurprisingly, it seems not.

Ashley and Sophia Bahlkow

North Yarmouth

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