The Aug. 6 BDN OpEd “Role reversal: How the Penobscot Nation is suing Maine – and has the upper hand” is reminiscent of the fear mongering that took place throughout the Indian land claims era (1970-1980) when the message was, “The Indians are going to steal your homes!”
The author, who happens to be the attorney representing the intervening towns and polluting industries in Penobscot Nation v. Mills, falls short in capturing the depth and complexity of this 194-year old history between the Penobscot Indians and the state government. Through the Maine Indian Land Claims, the tribes were seeking justice and restitution for territory that had been illegally taken from them as well as assurance that it would not happen again.
Instead, the land claims has become the holy cannon for all issues Indian, and the threat of territorial loss continues. Since 1980, both state and tribal government officials have acknowledged numerous problems and ambiguities in the land claims “settlement agreement.” However it continues to be used as a tool to further oppress Penobscot people. The “agreement” has been broken since 1980. Perhaps this is why the 1980 Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act has been nicknamed the 1980 Attorney’s Employment Act.
‘Us and them’ gap
In the 1950′s, we had many failings, too, in our education, but before I left secondary and some post-secondary venues, a fair number of us had many ways to overcome our deficits. The world got smaller. The expansion of opportunities outside education gave many of us wonderful views of other religious, racial and international experiences. At those same times, we witnessed and sometimes participated in events that led numbers of us to become enlightened, and we found new and better direction to our lives. And the thirst for money dominated even larger parts of our lives, making immigrants even worse off.
Comments about Maine’s many immigrant waves never seems to offer as much depth as available. Seeing all the motivations might help understand factors better. Religious and political issues, ethnic strife, natural disasters of all types, famines from many resources, and personal gain from real estate sellers (such as happened in Maine, other states, other countries) and cheap labor — to build railroads, to mine or drill or make/cut goods, to become laborers on ships. The Waldo Patent was one effort to get homesteaders here in the midcoast and beyond.
A consistent thing with all immigration has always been one segment of a population having more power or control over those so badly trying to better their lives. How do we make rules to protect the powerless? We have a long way to go. This needs more depth of understanding.
Isn’t it a shame that the millions being pledged and spent on political campaigns in Maine couldn’t, instead, be spent on medical and social programs, and on highways and bridges so badly in need of repair?
Michael P. Gleason
The IN crowd
Going door to door as the independent candidate for Maine House District 94 — Camden, Rockport and Islesboro — helped me realize something: The citizens of this great state are the IN crowd.
They are IN the know about issues facing the working class.
They INspire us to work for a better tomorrow to leave for our children.
They INtrigue the senses, challenging one to think outside the box.
They INvite positive discussion and debate.
They INform lawmakers when and where regulations have gone too far or not far enough.
They INclude others opinions, an act sometimes forgotten in politics.
They INstill confidence that we have an informed and involved electorate.
They INstigate much-needed change and reform.
And they have INvested their own time to help me be a better candidate.
As a hard-working local boy and father of the next generation, I can tell you, this is a crowd that I’m happy to be IN.
Remember, the world is run by those who show up, so become INvested and show up at your voting booth on Nov. 4.