Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Justice for the Penobscot River

Indian Island on the Penobscot River in Maine

I drove two-hours north yesterday and joined well over 100 others on Indian Island to support the Penobscot Nation in their current struggle with the State of Maine over their sacred rights to the river. A beautiful gathering was held that included native song, drumming, and dancing as well as talks by Penobscot Chief Kirk Francis and other tribal leaders.

A brochure entitled 'Justice for the River' states:

The Penobscot people are an ancient riverine culture that has lived in synergy with the river for thousands of years before the disruption of European encroachment.  Like other indigenous peoples of the Americas who have been subjected to genocide and conquest, the heritage and culture of the natives people of Maine need protection and respect, not continued assault.

The State of Maine needs to stop its ridiculous assertion that the ancient Penobscot Indian Nation does not include its ancestral waterways.

The Penobscots have been guaranteed their right to the lands and sustenance fishing repeatedly in treaties, including the 1775 Treaty of Watertown, which recognized the Penobscots' role in the American Revolution.

An 1831 Supreme Court decision held that native American tribes retain all their sovereign powers except those specifically taken from them by Congress.  The land claims settlement did not specifically take away the River and these rights!

The Penobscot peoples are the best stewards for the River's health, ensuring that it can be enjoyed for generations to come.

A legal action, led by corporate industrial interests in Maine, is asking a judge to determine that the Penobscot reservation does not include any portion of the Penobscot River.

Penobscot historian and activist Maria Girouard reminded the audience yesterday that her people always have believed that "hoarding and greed" were wrong and run counter to our sacred relationship with the natural world.
 
The attempt by the State of Maine and major corporate interests to claim that the ancient reservation, which is comprised of more than 200 islands in the Penobscot River, does not include the water is outrageous.

You can sign a petition supporting the Penobscot Nation here

Learn more here

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