The indigenous peoples who have lived in what is now called “Maine” for over 10,000 years, are under attack by the State of Maine. The fishing rights of the Passamaquoddy and the Penobscots, and agreements recognizing the tribes as sovereign nations, are being attacked or denied by lawmakers in the Maine State Legislature, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Patricia Aho. This is what genocide looks like today.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the land and waters that the tribes use for sustenance, and the foundation of their identities, is still being eyed for various types of development, and polluting discharge. Briefly, the Passamaquoddy and the State of Maine are at loggerheads because the state refuses to acknowledge the Passamaquoddy’s inherent right to manage their ancient fisheries. The Penobscot Nation is surrounded by threats, including: a new solid waste facility proposed by MRC to sit on a freshwater aquifer and wetland that is the source of freshwater for the Indian Island reservation, as well as the traditional hunting and fishing grounds for the tribe; the East-West Corridor that threatens to cross the Penobscot River just north of Indian Island; the Old Town Fuel and Fiber mill located South of Indian Island and sits directly on the Penobscot River, which recently requested a change in the air emissions, essentially legalizing the toxic air emissions that they are dumping into the environment; the denial of the Penobscot River as their territory; and the worn out railroad tracks that run right along the East side of the Penobscot River, carrying explosive Baaken Crude oil from North Dakota. A train derailed last year in Mattawamkeag, miraculously spilling just a few gallons of oil.
In a multi-tiered approach, the State of Maine is refusing to acknowledge the tribes sovereignty, forcing these indigenous people to be wards of the State, which they clearly are not. Last week, Attorney General Mills and DEP Commissioner Aho sued the federal Environmental Protection Agency for acknowledging the sovereignty of our First Nation’s people, accusing the EPA of not being consistent in its application of the Clean Water Act, and seeking clarity about jurisdiction over Maine’s waters. There are several articles about this available:
Also last week, the Maine Indian and Tribal State Commission (MITSC) released a report that found that the Maine legislature erred in passing laws on tribal fishing rights that were outside of the State’s jurisdiction. Here is the report, and here is the article about the release.
When will the genocide of indigenous people end? We are witnessing the genocide of people, right here, right now. Please act, however you can!
If you are interested in becoming involved with other people who want to help, please contact the author by emailing: chris(at)defendingwater(dot)net