Maine Gov. Janet Mills speaks at the signing ceremony to establish Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Friday, April 26, 2019, at the State House in Augusta, Maine. By The Editorial Board. The BDN Opinion Section operates independently and does not set newsroom policies, or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com. • February 12, 2020 3:29 pm
Members of the Penobscot Nation are far more likely to be unemployed, die younger and earn less than their non-tribal peers in neighboring communities.
“So why do those disparities exist , just sometimes being separated by a 500 foot bridge?” Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis asked during a recent meeting with the Bangor Daily News editorial board, referring to the bridge between the Penobscot Nation and Old Town. “There’s a lot of reasons for it, but certainly our ability to address it is one of them.”
Francis and representatives from the four other tribal governments in Maine feel diminished and held ba ck by the restrictions in a 1980 agreement that settled tribal claims to two-thirds of the land in Maine.
More than a bridge has separated the Penobscot and other tribes from neighboring communities. There is a complicated history here, no doubt about it. But the Legislature now has an opportunity to reevaluate some of those issues and bridge some of the divides that have plagued state-tribal relations for decades.
“We want to prosper… and until we change this agreement, we’re not allowed to do that,” said Vice Chief Elizabeth “Maggie” […]