Federal First Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the Penobscot River is held in trust by the State of Maine for all Maine People

June 30, 2017

AUGUSTA – The Federal First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston today ruled in favor of the State of Maine in a case brought by the Penobscot Nation in 2012. The Penobscot Nation sued the State after then Attorney General Bill Schneider wrote to the Nation to express his opinion that only the State of Maine had authority to stop or otherwise regulate paddlers, hunters or anglers on the river. The Nation filed suit to assert ownership of the entire river, despite the plain language of the landmark 1980 Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act that stated otherwise. The Federal District Court and the First Circuit Court of Appeals both agreed with the State of Maine. The First Circuit’s decision also recognized that the State of Maine has not interfered and does not intend to interfere with the sustenance fishing rights of the Penobscot Nation.

“We are gratified by the court’s ruling and we look forward to working with the Penobscot Nation on areas of mutual interest. We respect and honor the Penobscot Nation’s deep historical and cultural ties with the river and look forward to working with them to preserve the health and vibrancy of this major watershed which is so critical to all the people of Maine,” said Attorney General Janet T. Mills.

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Supporting documents

PIN 1st Circuit Decision