ORONO, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — In 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act. The Act attempted to resolve a series of complex lawsuits brought by the Maine's Tribal Nations and the United States against the state of Maine.
Tribal leaders, state delegation of lawmakers and federal officials gathered at the University of Maine on Monday, hoping to improve the tribal-state relationship. For 36 years, the native tribes have been dealing with issues, including fishing regulations and casino laws, but their primary issue is sovereignty - the ability to govern themselves, separate from state government.
"The concern is, the future generation of the Tribe will not be able to experience the self-governing and inherit rights of the Tribe and then, before you know it, you have an entire culture removed from its ancestral homeland," said Penobscot Nation Chief, Kirk Francis.
The Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior attended the day-long roundtable and said he believes the Act deserves a fresh look.
"The federal laws should reflect the reality on the ground and I think Tribes across the country have proven that they are capable of being partners with state, local and federal governments," said Lawrence Roberts.
Roberts said they will continue to further the dialogue with the State and Tribes to try to work together.
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