Issue Position: Working With Maine's Indigenous People

Issue Position

Date: Jan. 1, 2018

As Governor, I will work to find new ways to partner with the indigenous nations of Maine, and to form stronger alliances on economic development, renewable energy sources, and health care. And I will work with everyone to respect and maintain the cultural identity and the right to self-governance of the thousands of Native Americans in this state.

As Attorney General, it has been my job to defend the state in litigation -- that's the oath I took -- and I don't always get to choose the cases that come in front of my office. But the role of Governor is very different from that of the Attorney General.

As such, my first priority will be to improve communication and trust between the four Tribes, the state, and local governments, so that together, we can improve the lives, opportunities and wellbeing of all our people.

What I've done as Attorney General
As Attorney General and as a member of the Judiciary Committee in the past, I have worked on legislation that amended the Settlement Act to create a Maliseet Tribal Court, to expand the jurisdiction of existing Tribal Courts, to add parcels to Tribal lands and to dedicate highway fines to Tribal budgets.

I have stood with Tribes across the country, including in Maine, to oppose former EPA Director Scott Pruitt's attempt to end regulations on mercury and airborne toxins -- which are the biggest threat to Maine's lakes and rivers.

I have strongly opposed proposals to drill for oil and gas off our shores, because of the devastation any oil spill would bring to our fisheries, to our tourism industry and to sacred Tribal lands at Pleasant Point.

I have read the Truth & Reconciliation report, and my Office has worked hard to make sure that caseworkers fulfill their obligations under the Indian Child Welfare Act. I have stood up for the Indian Child Welfare Act several times in cases in the U.S. Supreme Court.

I have expanded the Civil Rights Program in the Attorney General's Office, where we have partnered with nearly 200 schools and trained more than 1,500 students last year alone.

What I will do as Governor
I want state government to be a partner with Tribal governments, not an enemy of them. There is so much we can accomplish together -- economic development, expansion of broadband, ecotourism, better health care and educational opportunity for all -- when we engage in communication, rather than litigation.

As Governor, I will meet regularly with the Tribal Chiefs and Tribal Councils.

I will appoint cabinet members who understand Tribal issues.

I will appoint people to the Maine Indian Tribal State Commission who will carry out its mission, which has too long been neglected. I will work to enhance the Commission's authority and responsibilities, making that body a forum for real communication and real problem solving and dispute resolution.

I will appoint judges to state courts who fully understand the Indian Child Welfare Act, and who are familiar with Tribal Courts and customs and with the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation report.

I will partner with the Tribal Nations to create jobs, bring broadband to the reservations; and work on expanding ecotourism and new industries

I will work to remove once and for all, offensive names for teams, schools and mascots that have no place in our modern-day society.

We have a lot to do together, whether it's fighting the opiate epidemic, preserving our clean air and water, or providing vital health care to all Mainers and to Tribal members dealing with health challenges at a much higher rate than the general population.

Together, I know we're up to the task of meeting and overcoming these challenges.