Maine tribes say a decades-old agreement hinders their economic development. That could change

AUGUSTA, Maine — Tribal leaders and lawmakers in Maine have begun to work together on potential reforms to a 1980 agreement in hopes of spurring economic development and addressing health, educational and social inequities on reservations across the state.

Members of the group want to start tackling such broad issues by focusing on a few specific recommendations this year, at a time when tribal leaders and new Democratic Gov. Janet Mills are trying to address decades of tense tribal-state relations. Task force chair Democratic Sen. Michael Carpenter said the group is next set to meet Aug. 9, and is set to release a report in December.

During the task force’s first Monday meeting, tribal leaders said disputes over the sovereignty of Maine tribes has meant their communities have long faced too many barriers when trying to tackle issues from domestic violence to tribal-run gambling on their land.

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