Wabanaki tribes, community gather for solidarity rally
Organizers say they hoped to engage with the community and educate people on their push for tribal sovereignty.
BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Members of Maine’s Wabanaki Tribes gathered Sunday at the Bangor Waterfront for a solidarity rally.
They used it as an opportunity to engage with the community and educate people on their push for tribal sovereignty.
“What the Penobscot Nation and with our allies are really trying to accomplish here is a cleaner water system. One that respects the culture and heritage of the Penobscot people,” said Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis.
Francis says it means a lot to see so many people from the community showing their support.
Paul Kelly came in from Ellsworth after learning why tribal members say the Penobscot River is believed to be alive.
“I’m hoping that more minds and hearts become aware of the struggle of what’s really at stake,” Kelly said.
“What people can do to help is keep lending their voice to political leaders. Keep saying that’s not representative me,” Francis said.
The 1980 Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act allows the state to treat tribes as municipalities.
Tribal leaders today say they just want the same sovereignty held by federally recognized tribes.
“Sovereignty is not a bad word. It’s often a word that the state will tell you is more complicated than they’d like it to be, but at the end of the day we’re really just talking about a people governing themselves in a way that keeps a very prestigious face of Maine I think here, and I’m not sure who wouldn’t want that,” Francis said.
After losing their most recent attempt at sovereignty in the first circuit court, Francis says they are preparing to file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court.
“It’s really about much more than control, fishing, and all of those things. It’s really about future generations, giving them their birth right to be who they are,” Francis said.
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