Something is broken in the state of Maine, and in January we have the opportunity to set it right. The 41-year-old Settlement Acts are currently barring Maine tribes from accessing federal rights, including clean water and criminal jurisdiction over their own communities.

At the same time, the so-called “settlement” of acres that were to be returned to the tribes has been far less than what was promised. In one fell swoop, L.D. 1626 restores the federal rights that were lost and makes acquiring land more possible.

Opposition to the bill seems to be about details, but what I see is a lack of trust. I have been privileged to witness the generosity of several Wabanaki leaders in the past few months, and I’ve been moved by their willingness to continue building relationships with white people. Their knowledge, their effort and their time are precious gifts, even more so given that our ancestors and our current-day systems do a lot more taking than giving.

I do not see this same compassion or faith reciprocated by our state government. I beg Gov. Mills and 2022 legislators to trust the tribes and trust this bill. It is the result of extensive hearings, meetings and research by a bipartisan group including Indigenous and state officials. Most of all, let’s trust that the next steps will be lighter if we take them together.

Emily Troll
South Portland

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