In my 30 or so years of writing letters to and requesting meetings with elected officials, I’ve felt frustrated and heartbroken numerous times. But never before have I felt utterly and completely ignored. Until recently, that is, when I reached out to Gov. Mills to request a meeting with a handful of Maine Quakers to encourage her to support the tribal sovereignty bill, L.D. 1626.

Her office’s response: silence. I know, there’s a pandemic going on and the governor and her staff must be quite busy. Perhaps I just needed to be persistent. I called and wrote four additional times in the following weeks. Could they at least offer me the courtesy of a response? Nope. Crickets.

Finally, I wrote a handwritten letter to her, asking again for some kind of engagement with one of her constituents, who voted for her and supports her on many other issues. I’m still waiting for any acknowledgment, even a polite “thanks but no thanks.”

So, I sit here and can’t help but wonder: Might there be a connection between how I’ve been treated and the experience of the four Native American tribes in Maine, after centuries of trying to be heard and respected as sovereign political bodies? Is this what it feels like to be a Native American in Maine in 2022?

Robert Levin

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