Editorial: Maine governor fails to treat sovereign tribes as equals

The Penobscot River runs through the Penobscot Nation in Maine. Photo by Cheryl Daigle

Maine newspaper criticizes Gov. Paul LePage (R) for signing an executive order that rescinds a tribal consultation and tribal liaison policy:
Maine’s Indian tribes have a special relationship with the state. They have their own governments and, in some cases, their own police forces and courts. They send tribal representatives to the Legislature.

The tribes and the state are all independent sovereigns with interlocking responsibilities. When the tribes meet with state government, it’s a meeting of equals.

This is not just what the Indians say. All of this information, explicitly or implied, is in the statements of fact that begin Gov. LePage’s executive order dated April 16, and if the order ended there, it would be a good description of a very complicated relationship that goes back centuries, before the sovereign state of Maine even existed.

But the order does not stop there. LePage then proceeds to revoke an earlier executive order in which he promised that the state and the tribes would work together to solve issues.

“I don’t understand the value of the governor of the state taking the time to revoke such an order,” said Kirk Francis, chief of the Penobscot Nation, whose reservation is north of Old Town. “It does nothing but fuel an already volatile relationship.”

Get the Story:
Our View: LePage shouldn’t try to bully Maine’s tribes (The Portland Press Herald 4/23)

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