NBC Evening News for Wednesday, May 05, 1976
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(Studio) Fed court rules that Indians have valid claim to 2/3 of Maine and that they could sue for damages on land they lost as long as 180 years ago.
REPORTER: John Chancellor
(Mt. Katahdin, ME) History of Indians in Maine noted. Maine became state in 1820. 1790 Non-Intercourse Act says states couldn't buy, sell, transfer or convey Indian lands without federal okay. Main tribes with help of Native Am Rights Fund sued Interior Department to establish tribes' rights under 1790 act. They won. [Native American Rights Fund Tom TUREEN - says tribes have claim to 2/3 of ME.] Claims for damages and rent could run into billions of dollars. 4-5000 Indians eligible for benefits. 1400 live on reservations. [Passamaquoddy Tribe Al SOCKABASIN - hopes people will become independent and self-sustaining.] [Penobscot Tribe Nick SAPIEL - explains why land is precious to Indians.] Justice Department files 2 suits asking for $300 million damages from ME. Other suits to be filed. Logging and paper factories affected the most. Home owners will also have claims filed against them. [TUREEN - says clients don't want to hurt anybody.] [ME attorney general Jos BRENNAN - says hard to turn 200 years of history around.] [SOCKABASIN - says lack of motivation and education are reasons for delay in filing suit.] Maine tribal cncls. believe Indian children will benefit the most.
REPORTER: Lee McCarthy