More than 200 people rallied and marched at the State House on Indigenous Peoples’ Day in support of Question 6. Photo: Anne Henshaw
Maine voters overwhelmingly passed Question 6 yesterday, approving the amendment to the Maine Constitution with 74% of the vote. The Maine Constitution will now be printed in full for the first time since 1875, including a section about Maine’s original treaty obligations to the Wabanaki Nations that has been missing from printed versions for more than 100 years.
Penobscot Nation Ambassador Maulian Bryant said, “The passage of Question 6 is important to our overall work towards increased recognition of tribal nations’ inherent sovereignty and self-determination. The passage of Question 6 honors the legacy of our tribal ancestors. It brings about truth and transparency for all Mainers. I’m appreciative that Mainers agreed to support our shared history.”
Background: In 1820 when Maine separated from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and became a state, its new Constitution included Article X, Section 5 that said, in part…
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 . . .
This is the only section of Maine’s Constitution that mentions the “duties and obligations” Maine inherited as regards the Wabanaki people within its borders. In 1876, the Constitution was amended to remove that language from printed copies. Maine’s current Constitution reads, in part:
Sections 1, 2 and 5, of Article X of the Constitution, shall hereafter be omitted in any printed copies thereof prefixed to the laws of the State; but this shall not impair the validity of acts under those sections; and said section 5 shall remain in full force, as part of the Constitution, according to the stipulations of said section, with the same effect as if contained in said printed copies.
The “yes” vote on Question 6 canceled the 1876 amendment and restored the language of original Sections 1, 2, and 5 of Article X to printed copies of the Constitution.