I’m a U.S. history teacher at a small high school in southern Maine and I have been learning, alongside my students, about the rich and vital history of the Wabanaki people, as well as their current struggle for sovereignty. Frankly, I am incredibly disheartened by both Gov. Mills’ and Sen. Angus King’s attitudes to sovereignty. It is past time for Maine to do right by the original peoples of this beautiful state. It is unacceptable to continue to subject the Wabanaki people to the Maine Land Claims Settlement Act of 1980.

Gov. Mills stated in her letter to the legislative leaders and tribal chiefs last year that “my concerns about the legislation are based in policy – and are not personal – and that my fears are that it would yield years, if not decades, of new painful litigation that would only divide the state further.” It seems to me that Gov. Mills’ judgement is personal and deeply rooted in an inherent bias; she is making unfounded assumptions about a great deal of “what ifs.” That is a poor way to govern.

It is time for Gov. Mills to honor the 10,000-plus years of culture and history of the Wabanaki people by granting them full sovereignty. They are great stewards of this land, and their connection to it is worthy of our deepest respect.

Jessica Pearson

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