Restoring Wabanaki History in Maine at the Ballot Box
When Maine voters go to the polls on November 7th, we will have eight ballot questions to consider, including Question 6: “Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to require that all of the provisions of the Constitution be included in the official printed copies of the Constitution prepared by the Secretary of State?” This question addresses one of the many longstanding injustices perpetrated by the State of Maine against the Wabanaki Nations.
In 1876, the Maine Constitution was amended to no longer print Sections 1, 2, and 5 of Article X, the Articles of Separation of Maine from Massachusetts. This text spelled out the terms and conditions that the District of Maine agreed to in 1820 to become a state independent of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including a mandate that Massachusetts’ consent is needed to annul or alter the Articles of Separation, meaning that Maine was legally bound to keep Article X, Section 5 in the Constitution.
Among the redacted Article X, Section 5 states Maine’s obligation to uphold and defend treaties made between Massachusetts and the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Nations and issues concerning public lands. State politicians have sidestepped this obligation by redacting Section 5 from view in 1875 rather than erasing it as law. Redaction language specifically singled Section 5 as “in full force” and “with the same effect as if contained in printed copies.”
Join Ambassador Maulian Bryant of the Penobscot Nation as she discusses the broader implications of the redaction of Section 5 and the need for the State of Maine to live up to its obligations to the Tribal Nations, starting by printing and respecting agreements made between sovereign nations over 200 years ago.