Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, listens during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to examine worldwide threats at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 8, 2023. Credit: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades / AP

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I have lived in Maine my entire life, except for a few years spent away to determine if there is any reason to live somewhere else (there is not). One of my favorite things about our state is our strong tradition of pragmatism. Typical voting rules clash with our ability to vote independent? We write new ones. Little Round Top must be held at all costs? Bayonet charge. It is a characteristic we can all be proud of.

How odd, then, that our usually pragmatic senator, Angus King, has chosen an issue unique to Maine to abandon pragmatism. King’s recent statement on the Advancing Equality for Wabanaki Nations Act reads as if it was written by a lawyer from away, not our senator who has always chosen what will benefit Mainers.

The facts of Wabanaki sovereignty are clear. A recent study shows that tribal self-governance means economic growth for Indian nations. The resulting growth benefits not only those nations but neighboring communities. But King refers to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act (MICSA) as if it were some sacred contract that must be upheld.

My message to King: the agreement does not benefit the Wabanaki, and it does not benefit Maine. The Advancing Equality for Wabanaki Nations Act would have meant economic growth for Indian nations and for Maine. The pragmatic choice is clear: it is Wabanaki sovereignty.

I hope my fellow Mainers will join me in asking Sen. King to return to his pragmatic roots and support Wabanaki self-governance.

Jeff Bates