On Friday, June 30th, 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston sided with the State of Maine in stealing water rights from the Penobscot Nation. This development is part of a dispute that has been taking place over the past several years, and follows hundreds of years of disputes over the watershed.
Its time to reign in this government and stop the unlawful taking of Penobscot Lands.
The dissenting voice of the decision, Circuit Judge Juan Torruella, correctly noted that the Penobscot Nation signed Treaties relevant to this dispute in 1796, 1818 and 1833. These treaties cannot be understood without recognizing that the Penobscot Nation has rights to the river surrounding the current reservation and islands northward.
The Maine Constitution in Article X, Section 5, guarantees that the State of Maine uphold treaty obligations to the Tribes within the State of Maine. Incredibly, the public printing of Article X, Section 5, in official State copies of the Constitution is illegal under Maine Statute. The only logical reason for this is that the State does not want the public reading the obligations it has toward the Penobscot Nation or greater Wabanaki Confederacy Nations.
The text of Article X, Section 5 reads,
“Fifth. The new State shall, as soon as the necessary arrangements can be made for that purpose, 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;”
Beyond the Maine Constitution, the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2) states the following,
“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land”
The Treaties must be honored. Agreements were made. Lawfully, they must be carried out. They are the Supreme Law of the Land. If the State of Maine or the U.S. Government were not agreeable to the terms of the Treaties, they shouldn’t have signed them. Period.
The Penobscot Nation and the Tribe are inseparable. It is called “Penobscot” for a reason. The Penobscot People are forever interconnected to the watershed itself, and the Tribe was diligent in making sure the Treaties signed forever protected this relationship.
Contrary to the sudden reinterpretation by the State of Maine, the Penobscot Nation never ceded rights to the river itself, and never will.
Its time for the people of Maine to stand up and own their legal obligations outlined in Article X, Section 5 of the Maine Constitution. It is time to end the illegal usurpation of Penobscot Tribal Lands. It is time for Maine to start doing right.
Honor the Treaties.
Honor the Law.