Cleaves on Maine Commission Report: Committed to Discussion on Sharing

Following a new report that says Maine lawmakers violated the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act with the passing of a law this spring that limited the Passamaquoddy Tribe’s jurisdiction over elvers fishing without the tribe’s consent, Passamaquoddy Tribe at Sipayik Chief Reuben (Clayton) Cleaves says the tribe remains committed to finding a common answer.

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“The Passamaquoddy People view saltwater fishing as an inherent right. This right was not given to us by the State of Maine or any other state. We have always said that right was never discussed during the Settlement Act negotiations therefore it is retained,” Cleaves said. “The MITSC report proves what we have always known. Yet, we recognize other peoples now live within our traditional territories. We remain committed to discussing how to share these resources in a manner that does not harm the fish. As Passamaquoddy, we follow the fish—their health is the foundation of our well-being, and everyone else’s, for that matter.”

The carefully researched 41-page report, co-written by Jamie Bissonette Lewey, chair of the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission (MITSC) and Commissioner Dr. Gail Dana-Sacco and researched by MITSC Executive Director John Dieffenbacher-Krall, called “Assessment of the Intergovernmental Saltwater Fisheries Conflict Between Passamaquoddy and the State of Maine” found that the legislature violated the MICSA by circumventing its amendment process when it legislated on saltwater fishery issues without the consent of the Passamaquoddy Tribe in 1998, 2013, and 2014.

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