Why Maine’s tribal chiefs are worried about new push to restore their sovereignty

AUGUSTA, Maine — Leaders of indigenous tribes in Maine are concerned Gov. Janet Mills’ delay on signing a criminal justice bill means they’ll encounter resistance from the Blaine House to legislative efforts to restore their broader sovereign rights.

The Democratic governor made repairing state relations with the tribes one of her priorities after taking office last year. She signed laws last year changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day and banned Native American mascots from public schools. She restored a state commission focused on tribal relations and appointed an adviser on tribal affairs.

But leaders of the four federally recognized tribes in Maine who met Thursday with the Bangor Daily News editorial board say how Mills reacts to the 22 recommendations that came out of the Maine Indian Claims Task Force in January will show how much she supports them.

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