Wabanaki Alliance Legislative Testimony
From testimony submitted June 6, 2023 by John Dieffenbacher-Krall, Executive Director of the Wabanaki Alliance, in support of LD 1620, An Act to Enact the Mi’kmaq Restoration Act.
One of the starker inequities in the State of Maine’s relationship with the Wabanaki Nations has been the applicability of restrictive provisions of the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act to the Mi’kmaq Nation without the Mi’kmaq Nation enjoying provisions that recognize and enhance their right of self-determination. This situation has persisted for decades. LD 1620 would rectify several of those inequities by making some of the provisions of the Maine Implementing Act (M.R.S. Title 30, Chapter 601) applicable to the Mi’kmaq Nation.
From testimony submitted March 31, 2023 by John Dieffenbacher-Krall, Executive Director of the Wabanaki Alliance, in support of LD 2004, An Act to Restore Access to Federal Laws Beneficial to the Wabanaki Nations.
This legislation begins, albeit incrementally, placing the tribes on a road to a more prosperous future for their communities and the areas around them as well. Because the tribes have not been able to access approximately 151 federal Indian beneficial laws since 1980 due to the rigidity of Settlement Act, they have been left behind while other tribes across the country prosper. Passing this legislation will be a small step towards fair and equitable treatment of the tribes in Maine compared to the other 570 federally recognized tribes across the country.
From testimony submitted March 7, 2023 by John Dieffenbacher-Krall, Executive Director of the Wabanaki Alliance, in support of LD 78, RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to Article X of the Constitution of Maine Regarding the Publication of Maine Indian Treaty Obligations, and LD 578 RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine Concerning the Publication of Maine Indian Treaty Obligations.
Omitting the printing of Article X, Section V of the Maine Constitution deprives people from knowing that the State of Maine pledged as a condition of statehood to “assume and perform all the duties and obligations of this Commonwealth, towards the Indians within said District of Maine, whether the same arise from treaties, or otherwise;.” At the most basic level, these bills would make our Maine Constitution more transparent increasing the likelihood current and future residents of this state do understand the obligations of the State of Maine to the Wabanaki Nations.
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From testimony submitted June 5, 2023 by Sage Phillips, a citizen of the Penobscot Nation and a Fellow with the Wabanaki Alliance, in support of LD 1970, An Act to Enact the Maine Indian Child Welfare Act.
Currently, we await the pending review of the Indian Children Welfare Acts’ constitutionality in the Brackeen vs. Haaland case by the U.S. Supreme Court. Should it be overturned, our children will need support and protections in place that allow our people to continue to heal from intergenerational traumas. Enacting LD 1970 would place the State of Maine alongside 12 other states that have codified protections surrounding the ICWA on the state level and continue to protect our Wabanaki sovereignty, culture, and people.
From testimony submitted March 28, 2023 by John Dieffenbacher-Krall, Executive Director of the Wabanaki Alliance, in support of LD 1115, An Act to Regarding Economic Development Funds for Federally Recognized Indian Tribes.
The bill would allocate 10% of the available funds in the Community Development Block Grant Program to be provided on an equitable basis to the federally recognized Indian tribes in this State. Dedicating a stable source of revenue to Wabanaki Nations for economic development would benefit them and the surrounding Maine communities. Wabanaki Nations have suffered suppressed economic development as documented in the report Economic and Social Impacts of Restrictions on the Applicability of Federal Indian Policies to the Wabanaki Nations in Maine.
From testimony submitted January 25, 2023 by John Dieffenbacher-Krall, Executive Director of the Wabanaki Alliance, in support of LD 25, An Act to Provide Indigenous Peoples Free Access to State Parks.
The Wabanaki Alliance perceives this bill as recognizing that historical reality and in some small but meaningful way having Maine State Government acknowledge the Wabanaki connection to creation, in this context state-owned parks or historic sites managed by the State. Honoring the Wabanaki connection to creation, to all of the Wabanaki’s relations, signifies Maine State Government’s respect for the Wabanaki worldview and the unique connection that the Wabanaki have to this place called Maine.
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From testimony submitted February 13, 2023 by Maulian Dana, Penobscot Nation Tribal Ambassador of President of Wabanaki Alliance in support of LD 294, An Act to Include a Tribal Member in the Baxter State Park Authority.
Over the last few years we have seen tribal state relations make a lot of progress. Good progress. We have some work to do still to have all aspects of our sovereignty recognized and understood but we have come a long way. Part of that progress has been efforts to increase collaboration between the state and tribal nations and have seats on various boards and commissions for tribal citizens. I see this bill as another step in the right direction and following this trend. The Baxter State Park Authority is a very natural fit for Indigenous wisdom, life experience, stewardship mindset, and the sacred responsibility that we feel when making decisions in our homeland.
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