As Gov. Mills’ senior adviser on tribal affairs, I am writing in response to the Press Herald’s July 9 editorial, “Our View: Tribal courts should get assault cases.” In it, the Editorial Board urges Gov. Mills to sign the legislation.

Well, good news: She agrees and she will sign the bill.

Gov. Mills held on to the legislation not because she questions its necessity, but because she is working with the attorney general, tribal judges and the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, to craft clarifying language to more expressly define due process rights for nontribal members. These noncontroversial changes will be discussed and agreed to by the state and the tribes. An amended version of the bill will be approved by the Legislature and then sent to the governor, who will sign it into law.

When it comes to the tribes, Gov. Mills has long said that it is time to heal the divisions of the past. Her actions have met her words. From prohibiting the use of Native American mascots in schools, to establishing Indigenous Peoples Day, to reinvigorating the Maine Indian Tribal State Commission, to signing a landmark agreement to protect tribal sustenance fishing rights, she is bringing the state and tribal nations together to build a new relationship shaped by mutual trust and respect.

We are working hard in pursuit of that, and it is my hope it can be done.


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