Wotanin Wowapi (Poplar, Mont.) 1975-2007, February 27, 1975, Image 16

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Wotaninwowapi Page 16 Feb. 27, 1975 PASSAMAQUODDY TRIBE WINS COURT DECISION I * ew WASHINGTON, D.C. (AIPA)--The Passama- q fuoddy Tribe has won a significant court decision which may lead to the eventual i recovery of two-thirds of the state of c Maine. Since 1972 the Passamaquoddy Tribe has requested that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Interior Department and the United States Government bring suit on their behalf against Maine for the purpose of recovering land taken from them in violation of the Indian Nonintercourse Act. The Act of 1790, which iu now 25 U.L.C. Sec. 177, disal- lows the conveyance of Indian land with- Ixt the consent of the Unitea States. Government officials have consistent- ly denied the Passamaquoddy request to institute litigation. In 1972 the Acting Solicitor of the Interior Department ad- vised the Justice Department that \no treaty exists between the United States and the Tribe and, except for isolated and inexplicable instances in the past, this Department in its trust capacity, has had no dealings with the Tribe. \On the contrary, it is the States of Massachusetts and Maine which have acted as trustees for the tribal property for almost 200 years.. .This Department has again reviewed its position and has a- gain determined that no request for lit- igation should be made. \The Department does not reach its decision lightly. On the .)ne hand, we are aware that the tribe may thus be foreclosed from pursuing its claims a- gainst the State in the federal courts. However, as there is no trust relation- ship between the United States and this tribe, we are led inescapably to con- clude that the Tribe's proper legal rem- edy should be sought elsewhere.\ The matter was pursued by the Passa- maquoddy in the courts. On Jan. 20, United States District Judge Edward T. Gignoux, District of Maine, Northern Division, ruled: \Judgment will be entered for the plaintiffs declaring that the Indian Nonintercourse Act....is applicable to the Passamaquoddy Indian Tribe; and that the Act establishes a trust relationship between the United States and the Tribe; and that defendants may not deny plain- tiffs' request for litigation in their behalf on the sole grounds that there is no trust relationship between the United States and the Tribe.\ The decision could have bearing' on VIP government's tru , :,t relati - inshjp with us many as five otner land -Lased tribes in Maine and New York and other eastern states. This is the apparent reason that many persons within the BIA are current- ly considering the option of appeal to a higher court of the Passamaquoddy deci- sion, although the delivery of services implied in a trust responsibility would undoubtedly come by way of a supplement to the Bureau. Top Bureau officials are reportedly divided on the issue of appeal. \We should just drop it,\ said one, \and proceed with their case against Maine. I'm for anything that increases the to- tal land base for Indians.\ The BIA pre- sently extends federal services to 266 tribes and supported the Passamaquoddy's request for such services two years ago. That decision was later altered by the Office of Management and Budget, accord- ing to the BIA's information office. The final decision on the appeal will be reached by Interior Secretary Rogers Morton by Feb. 20. The suit was brought against the In- terior Secretary and the state of Maine by the Joint Tribal Council of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the tribe's two governors, Allen Sockabasin of Indian Township and Francis J. Nicholar of Pleasant Point. In the Passamaquoddy de- cision, Judge Gignoux provided histori- cal background for the suit: \...since at least 1776 the present members of the Tribe and their ancestors have constituted and continue to consti- tute a tribe of Indians in the racial and cultural sense. \Unti] 1,94 the Passamaquoddy Tribe occupied as its aboriginal territory all of what is now Washington County, to- gether with other land in the State of Maine. During the Revolutionary War, the Tribe fought with the American colonies against Great Britain. In 1790, in rec- ognition of the primary responsibility of the newly -formed Federal Government to the Indians in the United States..the First Congress adopted the Indian Non - intercourse Act... 'No purchase, grant, lease or other conveyance of l'ulas, or of any title or claim thereto, from any Indian nation or tribe of Indians, shall be of any validity in law or equity, un- less the same be made by treaty or con- vention entered into pursuant to the Constitution.' \Plaintiffs allege that in 1794, four years after passage of the 1790 Nonin- tercourse Act, the Commonwealth of Mas- sachusetts, Maine's predecessor in in- terest, negotiated a treaty with the Passamaquoddies, by which the Tribe ceded to Massachusetts practically all of its aboriginal territory. It is fur- ther alleged that out of the 23,000 a- cres which the 1794 treaty reserved tc the Tribe, Maine and Massachusetts have sold, leased for 999 years, given ease- ments on, or permitted flooding of op - proximately 6,000 acres. The complaint asserts that the United States has not consented to these transactions and therefore that they violated the express terms of the Nonintercourse Act.\ The Passamaquoddy originally belonged to the Wabanaki Alliance, a confederacy composed of the Penobscot, Malacite (now in New Brunswick) and the Micmac (now in Nova Scotia). The Passamaquoddy live on two reservations in Maine, Indian Town- ship and Pleasant Point. An unusually high percentage, as compared to most tribes, of Passamaquoddy speak their own language and practice their original re- ligion.# Wpc:D. Eacmx 4.3 PL AFt j MT Mg=M55 • LLOYD PICKETT Cooperative Extension Service Montana State University tozeman, nontana )9715 4.1

Wotanin Wowapi (Poplar, Mont.), 27 Feb. 1975, located at <http://montananewspapers.org/lccn/WotaninWowapi/1975-02-27/ed-1/seq-16/>, image provided by MONTANA NEWSPAPERS, Montana Historical Society, Helena, Montana.