Penobscot Indians Sue Maine Over River
August 27, 2012
The Penobscot Indian Nation has filed a lawsuit against the Maine government claiming it has exclusive jurisdiction over the waters of the Penobscot River surrounding its reservation, according to an article in the Portland Press Herald.
The lawsuit contends the 1980 Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act approved by Congress gives the tribe exclusive authority to regulate fishing, hunting, trapping and other taking of wildlife within the river. The suit also points to an advisory opinion in 1988 from then-Attorney General James Tierney that gave tribal members the right to “sustenance fishing” for salmon.
The complaint, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Bangor, was in response to an advisory opinion by Attorney General William Schneider that the tribe has authority over its land but cannot restrict access or regulate activities on the river, which he said is subject to state laws.
The tribe is asking the court to grant it exclusive authority over hunting, trapping and fishing in the river surrounding the tribe’s Indian Island reservation. It further seeks an injunction preventing state agents and employees from exercising any authority on those waters.
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