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Wabanaki Alliance says it won't endorse a gubernatorial candidate

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Wabanaki Alliance
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The Wabanaki Alliance says that it will not endorse a gubernatorial candidate for Maine. The tribes have been working with lawmakers to amend the 1980 Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act to allow Maine's four Wabanaki tribes to have the same rights, privileges and powers as other federally recognized tribes. During the last legislative session lawmakers were close to passing a bill that would do so, but the bill failed to get the votes needed in the House and Senate to protect it from a veto from Governor Janet Mills, who opposed the measure.

Zeke Crofton-Macdonald, Ambassador for the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, says the hot election race between Mills and former Republican Governor Paul LePage makes an endorsement risky.

"Understanding that a governorship under LePage could be just as, or more difficult, our best option is to remain silent," he said.

The Wabanaki Alliance says they have endorsed candidates running for the legislature based on their support of the tribes legislative priorities. The Alliance surveyed non-incumbent candidates about tribal issues as well. The roster is largely made up of Democrats, with a handful of Republicans and Independents.

The last legislative session saw the passage of a bill that would give the tribes rights to mobile sports betting. The Wabanaki Alliance supported that measure but says tribal sovereignty is still their biggest priority.

Carol Bousquet
cbousquet@mainepublic.org