In this April 26, 2021, file photo, workers pound stakes to mark land on an existing Central Maine Power power line corridor that has been recently widened to make way for new utility poles, near Bingham. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

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Celebrating “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” shows respect for our Indigenous neighbors, recognizing abuses they suffered as those with greater economic, military and political power seized their lands, livelihood, cultures and languages, even their lives. Many of us think this happened 200 years ago. Yet, many Mainers have lived through a recent abuse!

When asked to vote no on ballot Question 1 to permit Hydro-Quebec to construct a corridor through forest lands to run power lines to deliver “clean energy” to Massachusetts electrical consumers, largely hidden from our view is the history of Hydro-Quebec’s 1980s dealings with the Indigenous Cree nation people. For details, see the September 1987 Cultural Survival Quarterly.

A devastating September 1984 Hydro-Quebec dam water release drowned 10,000 caribou, threatening Cree and Inuit livelihood and culture and wildlife crucial to Native American way of life. Hydro-Quebec’s response: “… mainly an act of God.”

Sacrificing thousands of trees, those same people who forever changed the land and lives of the Indigenous seek to forever change our forested lands and lives for a few hundred temporary local jobs cutting and clearing the equivalent length of Interstate 295. Per a Royal Society of Chemistry’s Education in Chemistry feature article on Jan. 2, 2020, by Haley Bennett and Christy Turner, trees clean our air by dispersing and removing atmospheric pollutants, helping to slow climate change by photosynthesis, and absorbing and storing up to 30 percent of carbon emissions. 

When people vote on Nov.  2, they should count the real costs, and consider the interests and history above. A yes vote on Question 1 opposes the corridor; a no vote allows Hydro-Quebec and its partners to move ahead.

John Cuozzo