Governor Mills’ Statement Honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Governor Janet Mills issued the following statement today in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day:

“On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we honor the people of the Wabanaki Nations, the earliest stewards of this place we call home, and recommit ourselves to a shared future of prosperity rooted in mutual trust, respect, and collaboration. While there is still much work ahead, I am proud of the historic progress that my Administration and Maine’s Tribal Nations have achieved together – more than any Maine Governor in the last four decades – and the good that it will do for the Wabanaki people. While we may have disagreements on some areas of policy, I remain fully committed to collaborating with the Wabanaki Nations to find common ground to move forward, just as we have in the past.”

Governor Mills has made more progress with the Wabanaki Nations than any Maine Governor over the past 40 years. This progress includes:

  1. Establishing Indigenous Peoples Day: Governor Mills signed An Act to Replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day into law.
  2. Signing Unprecedented Tribal Legislation: Governor Mills wrote and signed into law LD 585, the most significant Tribal legislation enacted in Maine in more than 40 years, addressing economic and financial issues, while also making institutional changes in how state government interacts with the Wabanaki Nations. The law makes Maine one of only a few states to put into law a formal State-Tribal collaboration process for policy making; delivers important tax relief to Tribal members and Tribal businesses; and gives the Tribes the opportunity to benefit from online sports wagering, providing a meaningful way for Tribes to participate in the gaming industry in Maine from which they have been historically excluded
  3. Delivering Parity for the Mi’kmaq Nation: Governor Mills wrote and signed historic legislation to extend the same rights and benefits to the Mi’kmaq Nation that are enjoyed by the other Wabanaki Nations in Maine.
  4. Enshrining the Indian Child Welfare Act into State Law: Governor Mills signed legislation enshrining the Indian Child Welfare Act into Maine State law to ensure important rights and safeguards for custody and child welfare proceedings involving Indian children and families.
  5. Extended Time for Maine’s Tribal Nations to Acquire Land in Trust: Governor Mills signed legislation providing more time for Maine’s Tribal Nations to be able to acquire land in trust under the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act.
  6. Strengthening Water Quality Standards for Sustenance Fishing: Governor Mills signed into law LD 1775, An Act to Protect Sustenance Fishing, which put into place the nation’s strictest water quality standards to protect sustenance fishing in certain tribally significant waters.
  7. Expanding Tribal Jurisdiction in Domestic Violence Cases: Governor Mills negotiated and signed into law legislation to expand tribal jurisdiction in domestic violence cases against non-Tribal people.
  8. Returning Culturally Important Land: Governor Mills signed into law a resolve transferring ownership of a culturally significant parcel of land in Meddybemps from the State of Maine back to the Passamaquoddy.
  9. Improving Passamaquoddy Drinking Water: Governor Mills signed LD 906, An Act to Provide Passamaquoddy Tribal Members Access to Clean Drinking Water, which enables the Passamaquoddy Tribe to seek alternative sources of groundwater on Passamaquoddy Indian territory without State approval.
  10. Increasing Representation: Governor Mills has appointed Tribal members to Boards and Commissions such as the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and the University of Maine Board of Trustees to enhance Tribal representation;
  11. Prohibiting Native American Mascots in Maine Public Schools: Governor Mills signed into law An Act To Ban Native American Mascots in All Public Schools, which prohibits Native American mascots in all Maine public schools;
  12. Establishing the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations: Governor Mills signed into law legislation establishing the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations to promote, implement and coordinate programs that create and improve opportunities and incorporate the goal of eliminating disparities for historically disadvantaged racial, indigenous and tribal populations in Maine;
  13. Establishing Racial Impact Statements for Legislation: Governor Mills signed into law ‘An Act To Require the Inclusion of Racial Impact Statements in the Legislative Process’ that creates a process to review all legislation for potential impacts on historically disadvantaged populations;
  14. Righting Past Wrongs: Granted a posthumous pardon, believed to be the first in Maine history, for Donald C. Gellers, a deceased former attorney and advocate for the Passamaquoddy Tribe.

This progress builds on the more than $800 million the Wabanaki Nations have collectively received from the Federal government over the past 15 years, in addition to the millions of dollars the Tribes have also received from the State of Maine through revenue sharing, education funding, and general assistance – streams of State revenues not received by other Tribes in other states.