Alliance Priority Bill LD 2007 Signed into Law

Today Governor Janet T. Mills signed Wabanaki priority bill LD 2007, An Act Regarding the Criminal Jurisdiction of Tribal Courts and to Extend the Time for the Penobscot Nation to Certify Its Agreement to Public Law 2023, Chapter 369, reflecting a negotiated agreement reached between Wabanaki Nations, bill sponsor Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, Office of the Attorney General, and Office of the Governor.

LD 2007 reflects many of the criminal justice elements from the 2019-2020 bipartisan Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act. The bill also extends the period for the Penobscot Nation to approve previous changes that would allow the tribe a greater role in the management of its drinking water.

“We are happy to hear that Governor Mills has signed LD 2007 into law,” said Penobscot Nation Tribal Ambassador and Wabanaki Alliance Board President Maulian Bryant. “The strengthening of tribal courts and restoration of criminal jurisdiction represents great progress in our efforts to restore the recognition of our inherent tribal sovereignty that we did not relinquish in 1980.”

LD 2007 comprises the most recent effort to enact the 22 recommendations of a Task Force created through the diplomacy of Wabanaki Nations backed by majority legislative leadership at that time.

Ambassador Bryant observed, “The task force recommendations of 2019-2020 laid out a pathway back to the self-determination and rights that Wabanaki Nations should enjoy regardless of the oppressive interpretations by the state of the 1980 Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement and Implementing Acts. While this bill handles one subject area of those recommendations, criminal jurisdiction is highly significant to our nations and our people. Having this expanded jurisdiction helps our communities protect our people and enhance our peace, prosperity, and safety.”

Ambassador Bryant continued, “We wish to thank tribal leaders and citizens, Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross and the champions in both chambers of the legislature, the Governor and Attorney General offices for working with us on this bill, and our vast and devoted coalition of supporters that work tirelessly to be faithful and steadfast allies as we advance this work together. The signing of this bill on Earth Day is a good reminder that robust and collaborative relationships between tribal and state governments is a proven and tested way to heal and serve our shared Mother, the Earth. We remain hopeful and we remain focused on this journey of restoration and change. “

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