Monday, April 21, 2008




APRIL 18,2008


Thank you Mr. Speaker, Men and Women of the House.
I bring before you this resolution to support the rights of indigenous peoples all over the world.

As many of you know the United Nations approved this resolution on September 13, 2007. The vote was 143 in favor and 4 against. The four Countries against were the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, all Countries of Colonization. The white government of Australia issued an apology to the land’s indigenous peoples but did not vote to adopt the declaration yet. The Canadian Parliament voted in favor 148 to 114 on Wednesday April 9 2008, to support the UN Declaration and implement it’s standards.

One wonders what moral authority we have to chastise China on its human rights when we have voted against rights for our own indigenous peoples.

When I was trying to think of what to say I realized that I should have no problem speaking on behalf of indigenous peoples of the world after all, I am one.

I come from a line of Indigenous peoples who have been badly treated by the majority governments both Federal and State. I come from a people who have lost their lands and their rights and their religion to the majority culture.
I come from a people who have fought and died to protect this Country and
I come from a people who are the very essence of this Country.

I have been asked many times if I think Tribal Representatives make a difference here in Maine. I always say emphatically YES! We have played a role in making Indigenous peoples of Maine real and visible and human.
I truly believe the majority of Maine Legislators recognize the value of human rights and the fact that Indigenous peoples all over the world should have them and be treated with civility, equality and respect.

In 2002 I had the opportunity to travel to Chile with other Legislators from all over the United States. We visited the city of Temuco 2 hours south of Santiago by air. We stayed two days in Temuco and visited the city council. They were proud of the social programs the State had made available to the Mapuche. I asked how many Mapuche were on the council or on any committees, they looked at each other with surprise and said to me, none. I had the same experience when we met with the town council in a small town just outside the city.

We then drove into the bush to visit two Mapuche villages. I will never forget that experience.

Because we were VIPs we were welcomed in a joint ceremony by the two villages. Two Machi, medicine women greeted us. They were surrounded by Government officials who were very proud to tell us that government programs were improving the lives of these helpless people and they wanted us to know that these people weren’t lazy and wanted to work. Each Government official spoke very condescendingly about the Mapuchi how he or she provided them with what they needed etc. and this with the Mapuchi standing there listening with their heads down.

I had been asked to speak before arriving at the village but had said no because I was not prepared. After hearing these officials speak I went to our group leader and told her that I now wanted to speak but only as a member of the Penobscot Nation, not as a Legislator. I asked to speak after the head Machi spoke, she was to speak last. She spoke only Mapuchi and her speech was was translated into Spanish then English.

I was not sure what I was about to say would insult her, but I felt I had to say something. As I spoke I watched the expression on her face and still couldn’t tell. I said the following: “I am a Native American, a member of the Penobscot Indian Nation from the State of Maine in the United States. We have clan mothers much like your Machi and they take care of our community. I wish to give you a message from my people.
Never let your spirits be abused, never give up your language, never give up your culture, be proud of who you are. Stay true to your beliefs and you will win.”

You could have heard a pin drop. I did not expect any words from the head Machi, but she turned to me and said “Thank you for coming all this distance and thank you for your words, I hope that in some way you can help us save our culture.”

The translator came to me later and said there is something I did not translate and that is that she sends the spirits to be with you on your journey home. He said the reason he didn’t translate was because the Spanish would have considered that a non- Christian thing to say.

Indigenous peoples all over the world are in need of their freedoms including religious freedom and the right to be treated equally as human beings. The Mapuche are also trying to protect their lands against the corporations that are moving in and taking their lands illegally. On our way to the village we saw a funeral possession. There were many angry people crying and shouting as they carried a wooden coffin down the middle of the street. We found out later that it was the body of a young Mapuchi man just 19 years old who had been shot by the Chilean police as he protested the taking of his peoples land. The Medicine women told our delegation this, the Government officials wouldn’t talk about it.

This was just one incident we happened to find out about, I wonder what else and what other abuses they suffer daily.
I would like in some small way to help the Mapuche and all the Indigenous peoples around the world. Perhaps this vote, which I believe will be the first vote by a U.S State in support of the United Nations Resolution will be a first step in order that all Nations around the world support the rights of Indigenous peoples.

The United States of America has always stood for freedom and democracy. Many of us have fought and died for those rights. It is unconscionable that the United States voted against the rights of Indigenous peoples.

I ask you to support the rights of Indigenous peoples here in Maine and throughout the world.
It would make me very proud indeed to be a Tribal Representative in the State of Maine.

Thank you.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Response to Sun Journal Editorial/March 29. 2008

Tribes Are Sovereign and What We Do Not Give Up We Retain.

I am writing in response to your editorial dated March 29, 2008 “Tribes can be sovereign and transparent”.

Tribes are sovereign and what we do not give up we retain.

The tribes came under the Maine freedom of access law because of a Maine Supreme Court ruling. The State Court used the Settlement Act to allow Maine access to our files. The Settlement Act was a three-way agreement between governments; Federal, State and Tribal. The meaning of the Act cannot be changed unless the State and the Tribes agree to it.

In this case the State interpreted the Settlement Act through Court rulings. We do not agree with these rulings. The ruling clearly favored the Paper Companies and the State of Maine. It was an end-around the agreement.

I totally agree that, when State monies or Federal monies are granted to any entity be it State, Tribal or Municipal, there needs to be an accounting for those funds. The Maine Freedom of information Act is not the right instrument in this instance. It would not have mattered one iota if any freedom of information act applied in the case you site.

It took a complete federal investigation in cooperation with other federal agencies to trace how the money was spent and indeed the feds did their homework. Freedom of Information had nothing to do with it.

I would also suggest that if the feds investigated State Government they would find wrongful spending as well. The State has messed up in a number of areas where they have been called to task on and even have had to repay. Look at the millions the State owes the hospitals and doctors for the fiasco in Medicaid alone. That was a boondoggle if I ever saw one.

Maybe if the feds investigated some of those dealings there might be some indictments.

Look at the mess we’re in now with hundreds of millions of dollars in a budget shortfall. Why is that? Where did that money go? Maybe we need to trace that money trail. You want transparency in government? Start with your own and use the same microscope as you always do when it comes to tribal governments.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


I thought I would share this speech with you. I will continue the story on Economics a little later.

Slot bill speech for House Debate
April 2008

Thank you Mr. Speaker, Men and Women of the House.
I will have been in this body as the Penobscot Nation Representative for ten years at the end of this session. People ask me lately “How’s it going?” I tell them it’s going the same as ever. I can pull out a speech I used a decade ago and it would be just as on target now as it was then.
Things haven’t changed much for us in ten years.

This year there is something that has changed and changed drastically. It is the state of the economy. The economy is taking a hit on the national level and more to the point right here at home.

This legislature has spent this last week making painful choices about which programs are going to be cut and what programs and services are going to be eliminated. We’re talking about real families and real people. My people are Maine citizens, we have families that are being effected and will be effected by these decisions and this failing economy. We have hopes and dreams just as you and your children do. Whatever happens to the State of Maine happens to us. This is our home.

Today it is more important then ever that we be given the economic tools to not only compete but to survive. The Penobscot Nation has agreed to this amendment to lower the number of slot machines to 100 and to use them only on Bingo weekends allowed by law. We have agreed even though our profits will be a lot less than if we had 400 machines and our payout to other hurting organizations will be a lot less.

Some legislators have said to me the amendment is just enough to keep you at where you were before Hollywood slots entered the picture. With this number of slots you should be able to keep your customers at the Bingo Hall without getting a windfall in profits. (We certainly don’t want a windfall in profits!)

A scenario that comes to mind is that of a sinking ship and everyone is in lifeboats except us Indians, we’re floating around struggling to keep afloat and no one will pull us into the boat. We’re treading water and all we can hope for now is a possible life jacket to keep our heads above water.
We are not asking for a “Windfall”, we’re just asking for a life jacket and then maybe just maybe we can stop treading water and build our own boat!

I can guarantee you one thing and that is if the Indians were in the boat we would pull every single one of you in.
In fact we did! Our ancestors helped your ancestors to survive.

We are not selfish people, never have been. We are totally willing to share. We were willing to share in 2004 and perhaps we wouldn’t be in this predicament if our proposal made in good faith and friendship had been accepted.

That did not happen so here we are now reduced to asking for 100 slot machines.

It’s time to let Indian people have the economic tools to help themselves and in so doing help surrounding communities. The Penobscot Nations High Stakes Bingo contributes approximately a million dollars a year to the surrounding communities of Old Town, Orono and Bangor. These contributions are the accumulation of what players spend on such things as food, lodging and shopping as well as what the Penobscot Nation pays it’s 70 part time employees who live and work and spend their money in the local area. It also pays for printing and advertising. We would like to be able to continue to make this contribution to our surrounding communities. It’s Time to be fair and to work with us for the good of the entire State.
We are willing to share; we have always been willing to share. That’s what neighbors do.

Let’s recognize that these are hard times and these hard times may even get worse. The basic colonial paradigm of keeping total control of the Indians and keeping them poor that set state policy and practices since 1820 must change. Many of you in fact most of you do not reason that way any longer, but those policies and practices still exist today. Those old worldviews will not work any longer in this global economy.

We must change that paradigm and those policies and partner and work together in order to compete in that ever-expanding global market. 100 slot machines is a mustard seed but it’s a beginning.

I ask you to vote for the amendment and start working towards fairness and a change in this State’s paradigm and treatment of Indian people.
Thank you