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Permanent Commission Publishes Analysis of Maine Tribal Policy

Wednesday, April 13, 2022 - 10:18

AUGUSTA - Today, the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous, and Tribal Populations (“Permanent Commission”) distributed copies of One Nation, Under Fraud: A Remonstrance, at the request of its authors, Hon. Donna Loring, Hon. Eric Mehnert, and Joseph Gousse, Esq. The publication was made possible by $10,000 Grant for Change from Maine Initiatives.

“This historical document brings to light—through decades of hidden history—what, for a rare moment in 1942, was a candid admission of Maine’s tribal policy at the highest levels of State government: a calculated isolation, control and elimination policy,” said Loring, Mehnert and Gousse. “Drawing on primary sources directly from Maine policymakers, this article finally brings the pieces of the puzzle together, so that we get a clear picture of past, present, and future; a must read for anyone wanting to know the simple truth that drives Maine’s flawed relationship with the tribes and what can be done to improve that relationship in the future.”

Current discourse on tribal-state relations lacks a cohesive history of the origins, development, and maintenance of the power structures that have kept the Wabanaki people in a subservient role relative to the State of Maine, a position unique among tribal nations in the United States. Despite surviving oral and written traditions of a resilient and advanced culture, the preservation remains largely anecdotal. The publication of One Nation, Under Fraud: A Remonstrance provides a comprehensive context for this discourse.

“The opportunity to help educate Mainers on the historical truth of our state’s relationship with the Wabanaki Confederacy and the generational impact of this history on all Mainers is one that the Permanent Commission holds in high regard,” said Permanent Commission Co-Chairs, Penobscot Nation Ambassador Maulian Dana and Representative Rachel Talbot Ross, in the document’s Publisher’s Note. “We are forever grateful to the Hon. Donna Loring, Hon. Eric Mehnert, and Joseph Gousse, Esq. for their historical knowledge, brilliant writing skills, and their unwavering courage to challenge the origin story of statehood and Maine’s sense of exceptionalism. This strengthens our belief in the sovereignty of the Wabanaki, the People of the Dawn, the first peoples of this territory to whom this land belongs since time immemorial.”

The Legislature is expected to vote on bills relating to tribal rights this week. Those bills include LD 1626, “An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act” and LD 585, “An Act To Enhance Tribal-State Collaboration, To Revise the Tax Laws Regarding the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, and the Penobscot Nation and To Authorize Off-track Betting Facilities and Federally Recognized Indian Tribes to Conduct Sports Wagering.” The House  its initial vote to support LD 906, “An Act To Provide Passamaquoddy Tribal Members Access to Clean Drinking Water” yesterday.

The Permanent Commission is an independent entity with a mission to work toward ending structural racism so all communities can thrive. The Permanent Commission examines racial disparities as one tool to combat structural racism, which hurts everyone, including rural Mainers, Black and African American people, Indigenous people, other peoples of color, and all Maine residents struggling to thrive under these systems. To achieve its mission, the Permanent Commission is empowered to advise and consult all three branches of Maine government, and to introduce legislation.