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Familiar faces return to top posts after tribal elections

Tribal Sovereignty Maine
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
Passamaquoddy Tribal Rep. Rena Newell, at the State House in Augusta, Maine, on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. Newell will become the new chief for the Passamaquoddy at Pleasant Point.

Familiar faces will return to top posts within the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy tribes after recent elections.

Chief Kirk Francis was elected to a sixth term as the Penobscot Nation's top leader. He has been the tribe's chief for 16 years, including two initial two-year terms and three, four-year terms.

Citizens of the Passamaquoddy tribe at Indian Township have also reelected Chief William Nicholas to a fourth, four-year term.

And Rena Newell, the current tribal representative for the Passamaquoddy at Pleasant Point, will become the new chief.

Recognizing and protecting the tribe's ability to govern itself remains a top concern, she said.

But she declined to name specific legislative priorities and said the tribe may have more plans after the November election. The Wabanaki Alliance did not endorse a Maine gubernatorial candidate. It has said it's still looking for meaningful changes to the 1980 Settlement Act and wants the same rights, privileges and powers as other federally-recognized tribes.

In her new role, Newell said she wants to strengthen the relationship between the tribal citizens and its governing administration.

"As I gave consideration for running for this particular seat, I wanted to highlight one important observation. I felt the need for improved transparency," she said. "One way to do that would be to identify, implement methods of communication as far as tribal operations go and to make that information available to the tribal citizens that we serve."

Aaron Dana will take Newell's place as Passamaquoddy tribal representative.

The three chiefs will begin their new terms Oct. 1.

The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians also appointed Zeke Crofton-Macdonald as its first tribal ambassador.