HOULTON — Two members of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians will play a more powerful role in facilitating tribal-state relations now that they have officially gained seats on the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission.
Brian Reynolds and Linda Raymond, both of whom are members of the Maliseet tribe, will officially be recognized as MITSC members on Oct. 1. The two tribal members have attended meetings and been involved with the commission for some time, but the Maliseets did not officially decide to accept seats until recently.
Created by the Maine Implementing Act of 1980, MITSC’s mandate is to continually review the effectiveness of the Maine Implementing Act and the social, economic and legal relationship between the state and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation, and make recommendations if needed.
The Maine Implementing Act amended in part the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980 among the state and the three tribes.
The commission also makes recommendations about the acquisition of certain lands to be included in Indian Territory and promoting fishing rules for certain ponds, rivers and streams adjacent to or within Indian Territory.
According to MITSC’s Web site, four commission members are appointed by the state, two by the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, two by the Passamaquoddy Tribe, and two by the Penobscot Indian Nation. The 11th, who is the chairperson, is selected by the 10 appointees.
Although the Maliseets were not official members of MITSC until recently, they were considered members both by the state and the commission. John Dieffenbacher-Krall, executive director of MITSC, said Wednesday that the commission has welcomed the band’s official membership for some time.
Brenda Commander, chief of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, said during a recent interview that she is excited about officially taking the seats.
“We were offered seats on MITSC in the past, but we have always just sat on the sidelines,” said Commander. “That has been our choice. We just were not sure if we wanted to be involved right away so we opted to just observe for a time. Now, we are at a point where we want to be involved and have a voice in all that MITSC is doing.”
Commander said Reynolds and Raymond have been assets to the tribe during their involvement with MITSC, keeping other tribal members involved and updated about the commission’s actions. She added commission members from the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Penobscot Nation also tried to help the Maliseets work with MITSC.
“But that is not their job, and we have learned a great deal over the years,” she said. “We are now ready to be a direct part of MITSC and talk about community issues with other tribes.”
Dieffenbacher-Krall said he believes it’s time for the Maliseets to officially become involved.
“I think that everyone will benefit from having the Maliseets seated,” he said Wednesday. “It was odd to be meeting without them included. This is going to be a positive step forward for the tribe.”