US ‘paternalistic attitude’ forces 2 native tribes out of Maine House
Two Native American tribes have pulled out their representatives from the Maine House due to the US “paternalistic attitude”, saying they will not return until “recognized” and “valued”.
The two, the Penobscot Nation and Passamaquoddy Tribe, abandoned seats at the Maine legislature on Tuesday amid a row with Governor Paul LePage, the Guardian reported.
The Native tribes are only allowed to vote at the committee level and not in the full House.
The Penobscots have had envoys at the Maine legislature since at least 1823 and the Passamaquoddies since 1842, apart from the 20 years they were removed in the middle of the 20th century.
“Our hope is that someday the state will recognize us for who we are and value the tribes as sovereign partners and engage in a relationship of mutual respect. Until then we simply must decide our own future,” representative Matthew Dana of the Passamaquoddy Tribe said before walking out of the chamber with Penobscot Nation representative Wayne Mitchell.
The state’s Republican governor responded to the move through a spokeswoman, who accused the two of not respecting the interests of northeasternmost state.
The row included the withdrawal of an executive order that allegedly aimed at boosting ties between the states and the Native Americans.
“The governor had hoped his 2011 executive order would have improved the relationship between the state and the tribes,” said Adrienne Bennett, a spokeswoman for LePage, in a statement.
The order was supposed to promote policies leading to the recognition of the tribe’s sovereignty, among other things.
As Dana and Mitchell were leaving, a number of lawmakers accompanied them and joined a protest held in the statehouse courtyard.
“The Passamaquoddy and Penobscot people will always have a place in the Maine House,” said House speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick.
”I hope they will reclaim their seats,” he added without elaborating how it may come about.