Since moving to Maine in 2019, we’ve enjoyed sharing with friends and relatives our pleasure at being represented by Sen. Angus King. The senator’s support of fair elections, women’s rights, his defense of Maine’s lobster industry against unfounded attacks, championing of voting rights, efforts on the Inflation Reduction Act and other legislation has made life better for Mainers and Americans. That work is truly appreciated and seems to be grounded in sound reasoning and compassion.

A group from the Wabanaki Confederacy drums and sings last April before a news conference in support of the tribal sovereignty bills before the Maine State House in Augusta. Tribal sovereignty protections were left out of the recently signed federal omnibus spending bill. Rep. Jared Golden introduced the tribal sovereignty legislation, which also was supported by Rep. Chellie Pingree, but it did not get the support of either Sen. Angus King or Sen. Susan Collins. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal, File

However, Sen. King’s firm opposition to the proposed Advancing Equality for Wabanaki Nations Act has left us confused and extremely angry. Sen. King has repeatedly cited “unintended consequences” as a reason for his opposition without citing any specifics. The senator has said “a deal is a deal” when referencing the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980 as a reason to oppose the legislation. Yet Sen. King rightly supported a sorely needed change to our Electoral College vote-counting law, a law more than 150 years old. Sen. King voted to change that “deal.”

The senator has declared that the legislation, which has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives, should not be approved in the Senate and become law because any changes to tribal nation benefits from federal laws should be done in Maine and be negotiated in Maine. The proposed legislation was negotiated in Maine. It was also supported by more than 1,500 letters and emails via public testimony that overloaded the office of Rep. Jared Golden, who introduced the Advancing Equality for Wabanaki Nations Act.

Since Sen. King has not offered any hard specifics about his opposition, we can only draw the following conclusions. 1) The senator has chosen to use his office and position to oppress not only Wabanaki tribal nation people by denying them federal funds and policies that will be passed in future congressional sessions, but also to oppress and deny rural Maine citizens, who would also benefit from life-improving policies. 2) Sen. King’s stance contradicts overwhelming support from Maine citizens, our two U.S. representatives, the Department of the Interior, President Biden and others. Sen. King appears to be beholden in some fashion to Gov. Mills, one person.

A precursor to the Advancing Equality for Wabanaki Nations Act was L.D. 1626, which was passed in a strong bipartisan fashion by both chambers of the Maine Legislature. A strong majority of people in Maine believe Wabanaki tribal nations deserve the same rights and benefits as all other tribal nations in the United States. To date, Sen. King has not offered any solid, reasonable, well documented or explained objections. Why deny people who live in Maine access to fair and equitable federal funds and laws? To say we’re angry is an understatement. And our confusion and anger is shared by thousands of your constituents here in Maine.

When will Sen. King rethink this position? When will he work to support fair and equitable access to federal funds and laws for Wabanaki people and rural Maine people? When will the senator see it’s the right thing to do? Shouldn’t all families and children be raised and lifted via resources to be their best?

Why is it right to not support Wabanaki tribal nations and rural Mainers via the Advancing Equality for Wabanaki Nations Act and similar laws which will be proposed in the future? Does the senator not want lives of their families and children to improve and flourish? Shouldn’t all families and children be raised and lifted via resources to be their best? Does Sen. King want them to be unequal to all federally recognized tribal nations in America? It seems so.

We will continue our advocacy work on these issues and share our views and facts with other Mainers.

How long will Sen. King ignore what is right and fair?

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