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ERIC Number: EJ767435
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 35
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0161-6463
Out of the Woods: The Making of the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act
Kotlowski, Dean J.
American Indian Culture and Research Journal, v30 n4 p63-97 2006
"Maine appears out of the woods," the editor of the "Lewiston Evening Journal" opined, after President Jimmy Carter signed the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act in 1980. That sigh of relief was heartfelt. During the 1970s, two Native American tribes, the Passamaquoddies and Penobscots, had sparked a long, statewide nightmare when they asserted claim to more than 12 million acres of land in the Pine Tree State. To the Indians, their claim and the ensuing settlement represented long-delayed justice. For private-property owners, however, the controversy unleashed great anxiety about the future of Maine's economy. To leaders in the Maine statehouse, Congress, and the White House, the matter was a conundrum pitting the demands of an aggrieved racial minority against the ire of an aroused white majority. When Congress, in 1980, granted the Passamaquoddies and Penobscots federal recognition and $81.5 million in cash, from which they could purchase up to 300,000 acres of land, all sides breathed easier. The land claims of these tribes form a compelling, albeit overlooked (by historians), story that illustrates three larger themes. The first involves the Native American rights movement, whose leadership and tactics proved quite diverse. Second, the Maine saga underscores the national scope of white backlash against Indian rights. Third, the Maine claims settlement cannot be separated from the shift in Indian policy. At its core, the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act signaled an end more than a beginning. The tribes' expansive claim, the prospect of their victory in court, and the threat of similar suits in other eastern states made the road to restitution particularly long and tortuous. Passamaquoddy and Penobscot leaders at times used heated rhetoric to press their demands. Maine politicians--with the exception of Democratic Senator William D. Hathaway, who eventually brokered a compromise--sided with their non-Indian constituents, thus blocking a settlement. And the Carter administration, hamstrung by its own inexperience in governance generally and in Native American policy particularly, at best lurched toward a solution. Such happenings suggested that the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act would be the last of its scale for the federal government. (Contains 221 notes.)
American Indian Studies Center at UCLA. 3220 Campbell Hall, Box 951548, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1548. Tel: 310-825-7315; Fax: 310-206-7060; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Historical Materials; Journal Articles
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Maine