Maine Legislature Passes Wabanaki Legislation With Super Majorities

Maine State House

AUGUSTA, ME – The Maine Senate and House has passed LD 2004, An Act to Restore Access to Federal Laws Beneficial to the Wabanaki Nations. LD 2004, which passed with super majorities in both chambers, was based on one consensus recommendation of 22 from the 2019 bipartisan Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act.

The legislation passed 100-47 in the House and 26-8 in the Senate, with broad bipartisan support in both chambers.

LD 2004 would:

  • Begin the process of placing the Wabanaki tribes in Maine on the same footing as the other 570 federally recognized tribes across the United States. Currently, the tribes in Maine must ask to be specifically written into federal beneficial laws that all other tribes across the country can automatically access. LD 2004 would flip this paradigm by allowing the Wabanaki to access federal laws unless those federal laws expressly exclude them.
  • Allow the tribes in Maine to be included in some federal Indian law. The tribes in Maine must currently be written into federal legislation to be included. No other tribe in the country has this burden. This causes tribes in Maine to miss out on federal funding opportunities and critical government capacity building.
  • Would only pertain to tribal lands
  • Does not include the Clean Water Act, Indian Mineral Development Act, Water Quality Act, Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and others. These changes were based on negotiations with Republicans.

“Today signifies a landmark victory in the pursuit of Wabanaki self-determination, but also demonstrates the effect of an ever-growing momentum building across the state and across party lines,” said Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis.

“The successful passage of LD 2004 is significant,” said Passamaquoddy Chief at Sipayik Rena Newell. “Its passage aligns the tribes in Maine with the other 570 tribes across the country at least pertaining to federal beneficial laws for Indian Country. This legislation will contribute to a brighter future for tribal citizens and all of Maine.”

“I thank my legislative colleagues, Republicans, Independents, and Democrats alike, for their support, dedication, and leadership on tribal policies,” said Passamaquoddy Representative to the Maine House of Representatives Aaron Dana. “Both sides of the aisle understand tribal issues are not partisan issues, they’re Maine issues.”

“We are appreciative of the immense bipartisan support from the legislature,” said Ambassador Maulian Bryant of the Penobscot Nation and President of the Wabanaki Alliance. “This is a first step towards passing historic legislation not only for a more prosperous future for the tribes but Maine.”

“There is clearly an overwhelming willingness of Maine’s people and legislators to remove Maine from its position as a national outlier regarding the treatment of tribal nations,” said Ambassador Osihkiyol Crofton-Macdonald of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians. “The institutional obstacles that have prohibited years of socio-economic development are slowly being taken down.”