A recent Press Herald report gave the impression that no one knows why Maine removed the Articles of Separation, inclusive of its duties regarding Native treaties, from printed copies of the Maine Constitution (“Gov. Mills, lawmakers clash over printing tribal treaty language in Maine Constitution,” March 8).

The report did not cover my testimony before the Judiciary Committee. Based on my published research, I explained that the evidence indicates that Maine redacted Article X, Section 5, in hopes of sidestepping costs expected with a ruling on Joseph Granger v. Peter Avery, a Maine Supreme Judicial Court case involving a 1794 Passamaquoddy treaty.

I also testified that the member of the 1875 Constitutional Commission who proposed the redaction, a professional associate of Granger’s, could not have attacked the specific subsection on Native treaties, because subsection 9 prohibits Maine from altering the Articles of Separation without the consent of Massachusetts and requires that Maine include the articles in its constitution. Removing the entirety of Section 5 from print while keeping it in “full force” was a way of getting around these stipulations.

My testimony before the Judiciary Committee was a summary of my article about the redaction’s origins, published in the Fall 2021 issue of Maine History, for which I received the 2022 James Phinney Baxter Award. My research also served as a basis for the Maine Historical Society’s 2020-2021 exhibition on the redaction. It is not true that there is no known explanation for why Maine removed Article X, Section 5, from printed copies of the Maine Constitution.

Catherine M. Burns

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