Many of the first colonists in North America experienced religious intolerance in Europe and were marked as heretics. They longed to develop plantations of religion.

Since the arrival of colonists during the 15th century, the Wabanaki People have suffered a 96% reduction in population due to disease, land dispossession and eviction, decimation of traditions through Christian conversion, war and scalp hunters. 

Through their zealous convictions and beliefs that they were superior to the original inhabitants of North America, the colonists’ push was to convert, assimilate, and in most cases, eradicate.

From an Indigenous standpoint, the converters missed a simple and abundantly clear understanding of the way creation works. They seemed not to know that all religions were created by God. The proselytizing by uneducated fundamentalists was redundant; the Indigenous people already believed in the Creator.

Rather than trying to glean wisdom from wisdom keepers of Turtle Island, the colonists began what was to become a genocide and the wholesale destruction of an environment considered sacred by the Wabanaki.

During the civil rights movement, a line from the Bible – “The first will be the last,” Matthew 20:16 – was used to proclaim that the oppressed and marginalized (the last) would rise, while the privileged (the first) would lose their status. 


It is within this context we must look at Maine and realize that if we stand any chance of extricating the illness inherent in the “plantations of religion” and being inclusive, fair and just, we must honor tribal sovereignty.

Maine’s governors have claimed that recognizing sovereignty would hurt the Maine economy. They have made excuses, tired and worn, for not having good faith negotiations with the Wabanaki. A state cannot proclaim to be progressive when subjugating an entire population.

The saying, “As Maine goes, so goes the nation,” once heralded with pride by constituents, can’t be used the same way today. 

It would seem to me the statement should read: “As Maine goes, it is the last holdout in the U.S. on the inherent tribal sovereignty of the original people of the state. Maine remains true to colonialism and all it stands for.”

OK, long saying. And one that might make people angry. The truth has a way of doing that.

When we see things clearly under this light, it becomes apparent that the disease is deep, and the soul of Maine is sick from the treatment and history of people of color in this state.


On Nov. 7, voters in Maine have an opportunity to vote “yes” on Question 6, supporting a constitutional amendment that would require the state to print the full text of the Maine State Constitution, which includes a section about Maine’s original treaty obligations to the Wabanaki Nations that has been missing from printed versions for more than 100 years.

As a Wabanaki Alliance statement puts it: “The Wabanaki people were given space in this document, and that should not be ignored. The fact that the original treaty obligations were hidden sends a message to the tribal nations that the agreements and relationships between the state and our tribal governments are not important or worthwhile. We hope that is not the case and we can honor this shared history together by including treaty obligations in printed copies of the constitution.”

I have hope that one day that the State of Maine will honor the inherent sovereignty of the Wabanaki. It is time to shed the hypocrisy accrued from perpetuating the mythos of colonists, and understand for Maine to heal its soul, subjugation has no part.

Maine voters can start the process by voting “yes” on Question 6 and becoming involved with the Wabanaki Alliance.

Comments are no longer available on this story