I agree in principle with Wayne Cobb’s view in “Another View: Time to revise Maine’s relationship to the tribes” (Feb. 9). I’m just not sure L.D. 2094 is the way to go about it.

The Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980 has indeed resulted in long-standing litigation issues. But, as Press Herald Staff Writer Colin Woodard has written: “As a result of the agreement, no federal Indian law – whether passed before or after 1980 – is applicable within Maine if it ‘affects or pre-empts the civil, criminal, or regulatory jurisdiction of the State of Maine’ unless Congress explicitly specifies it is to apply to the Maine tribes. Maine’s attorneys general (up to Janet Mills when she held the position) have emphasized this point ever since.” The Passamaquoddy have no legal remedy to this issue because they have no constitution. My fear is that L.D. 2094 will at best maintain the status quo among the tribes and may make it worse.

Across the nation, a large gap in economic growth and development exists between Indian tribes that have a constitution and those that do not. Poverty, unemployment, cultural values, life expectancy have all improved once a tribe has instituted constitutional reform. The Passamaquoddy have tried multiple times to achieve this, but deep divisions remain between Indian Township and Pleasant Point.

I would urge the Legislature to revisit Woodard’s “Unsettled: Triumph and tragedy in Maine’s Indian country.” The solution is not another state law imposed upon the Passamaquoddy. The state should be doing more to encourage the creation of a constitution that creates accountability and control for the tribes over their own affairs.

Gary W. Dick


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