Opinion: Defending tribal sovereignty in Maine
"The Tribal-State Work Group is a pleasure to witness in its deliberations. Its cooperative bipartisan problem solving, integrity, commitment, and leadership are exactly what America is aching to see in Washington. The efficiency with which the chairmen respectfully guide the parties through the agenda, their focus on purpose, doing the people’s business, are talents to behold. As a taxpayer, you not only feel you’re getting your money’s worth, but you also want to leave a tip.

The group’s historic work includes the determination that the Freedom of Access Act does not apply to the tribes, any more than it applies to any other sovereign entity. Substitute the word "Canada" for the word "tribes" and the illegality of it jumps right out at you. LD 2221 will clarify the reality and correct years of an illegal and erroneous perception.

A helpful thing to remember is that Maine didn’t even exist when the treaty was agreed to between the United States and the Wabanaki. George Washington was acting on behalf of the United States. The role that our state is entrusted with is that of an agent of the federal government in honoring the treaties. We don’t get to rewrite the treaties.

The tribes have always practiced open government, but with the governed, not with the neighbors. Tribal matters are tribal matters, and the state should not try to assume jurisdiction."

Get the Story:
Tom Bulger: In defense of tribal rights (The Bangor Daily News 3/20)

Related Stories:
Opinion: Recognize sovereignty of Maine tribes (3/19)
Editorial: Improving tribal-state relations in Maine (3/5)