As a member of Christ Episcopal Church of Gardiner, I am keenly aware that our church members have worshiped, sung and prayed for the last 251 years on Wabanaki ancestral land. As a church, we endeavor to be good neighbors to the Wabanaki and all people.

The 1980 Settlement Act between the federal and state governments and three of Maine’s four tribes was the start of a process of repair of centuries of harm and broken trust. Thankfully, all parties to the agreement recognized that things would change over time and created a path for updating the agreement. Indeed, the Tribal-State Work Group created by the Legislature strongly recommended in 2008 that the settlement be renegotiated. Fourteen years later, the tribes in Maine are still waiting.

Sen. Angus King has argued that the changes to the settlement should come from negotiations between the state and the tribal nations. The problem is that our governor has refused to amend the Settlement Act, and so it is up to the federal government to reassert its constitutional duty to oversee our state’s relationship with the tribes in Maine. Rep. Jared Golden’s Advancing Equality for Wabanaki Nations Act is a step in the right direction.

Mainers pride themselves on being good neighbors and doing what they can to help their neighbors live better lives. It is time our elected officials led our state to be better neighbors to the Wabanaki and to support their claims to the same rights and access to federal programs that tribal members have in every other U.S. state.

Scott Klinger

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