In this Aug. 1, 2021, file photo, a rally to support the Penobscot Nation's fight for water rights brought members of Wabanaki tribes and their allies to the Bangor waterfront. Credit: Murray Carpenter / Maine Public

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Thank you to the BDN for its recent articles and editorials on the history of Wabanaki-settler relations and efforts to recognize the wrongs of the past and turn in a new direction. Reading about massacres, removal from ancestral lands and forced assimilation is hard, but truth-telling and education are important. Unfortunately, full sovereignty of the Wabanaki nations remains unrecognized because of the way the  1980 Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act was written.

I hope U.S. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins have been reading the BDN and realize they have an opportunity to promote the Advancing Equality for Wabanaki Nations Act (H.R. 6707) in the Senate. This bill, which passed with bipartisan support in the House this summer, would amend that 40-year-old act so that the Wabanaki can benefit from future federal laws that apply to 570 other federally recognized tribes. It would represent a significant step toward equalizing the federal treatment of the Wabanaki nations here in Maine with tribes in the rest of the country. This is supported by all of the Wabanaki nations and has broad bipartisan support among Maine legislators and Mainers.

I hope that with the support of all of the Maine delegation this important legislation can be passed quickly. It would be a meaningful step toward a new relationship with the sovereign Wabanaki nations.

Mary Beth DiMarco