BANGOR — Wabanaki tribe members held a rally discussing their ongoing fight for sovereignty.
“Without recognizing sovereignty, there is no justice, there is no clean water, there are no opportunities, there is no trust,” Passamaquoddy Tribe Chief Maggie Dana said.
Over a hundred people showed up to attend the rally, where different Wabanaki chiefs, scholars, and activists spoke about the struggles they have faced around the Penobscot River.
“We want a clean water system. We want a culture in our state that’s been here since time immemorial. We don’t want that threatened and quite frankly there’s no good reason for that not to be the case,” said Penobscot Nation Tribal Chief Kirk Francis.
Chief Francis said in 2012 the state of Maine claimed the river was not a part of Penobscot territory giving the state sole jurisdiction over its water quality standards, environmental protection, and fishing regulations.
In 2015 the state ruled the river is not a part of Penobscot territory, and the Penobscot Nation has been in legal battles ever since.
Francis said it culminated on July 6 when the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled against the Penobscot Nation’s appeal 3-2.
“We don’t want folks to think, ‘well there’s been this court decision, there’s been this that or the other thing and now it’s over.’ There’s still a long ways to go in this fight. We’re really appreciative of our partnerships and we’re trying to keep people engaged,” he said.
They will be appealing that decision to the U.S Supreme Court.