Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Nation v. Mills

United States District Court, D. Maine

December 16, 2015

PENOBSCOT NATION et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
JANET T. MILLS, Attorney General for the State of Maine, et al., Defendants

          For Penobscot Nation, Plaintiff: KAIGHN SMITH, JR., LEAD ATTORNEY, ADRIANNE E. FOUTS, JAMES T. KILBRETH, MICHAEL L. BUESCHER, DRUMMOND WOODSUM, Portland, ME USA.

         For United States, Intervenor Plaintiff, Counter Defendant: STEVEN MISKINIS, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Environment And Natural Resources/Ees, Washington, DC USA.

         For Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Joel T Wilkinson, Colonel for the Maine Warden Service, Janet T Mills, Attorney General for the State of Maine, State of Maine, Defendants: GERALD REID, MAINE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, Augusta, ME USA; PAUL STERN, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Augusta, ME USA.

         For Veazie Sewer District, Town of East Millinocket, Town of Lincoln, Verso Paper Corp, Great Northern Paper Company LLC, Town of Mattawamkeag, Covanta Maine LLC, Guilford-Sangerville Sanitary District, Lincoln Sanitary District, Lincoln Paper And Tissue LLC, City of Brewer, Town of Millinocket, Kruger Energy (Usa) Inc, Town of Bucksport, Town of Howland, True Textiles Inc, Intervenor Defendants: MATTHEW D. MANAHAN, LEAD ATTORNEY, CATHERINE R. CONNORS, PIERCE ATWOOD LLP, Portland, ME USA.

         For Expera Old Town, Intervenor Defendant, Counter Claimant: CATHERINE R. CONNORS, MATTHEW D. MANAHAN, LEAD ATTORNEYS, PIERCE ATWOOD LLP, Portland, ME USA.

         For Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Janet T Mills, Attorney General for the State of Maine, Joel T Wilkinson, Colonel for the Maine Warden Service, State of Maine, Counter Claimants: PAUL STERN, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Augusta, ME USA.

         For Penobscot Nation, Counter Defendant: KAIGHN SMITH, JR., LEAD ATTORNEY, ADRIANNE E. FOUTS, JAMES T. KILBRETH, DRUMMOND WOODSUM, Portland, ME USA.

         For Town of Millinocket, Town of East Millinocket, Covanta Maine LLC, City of Brewer, Town of Lincoln, Lincoln Sanitary District, Town of Mattawamkeag, Town of Howland, Counter Claimant: MATTHEW D. MANAHAN, LEAD ATTORNEY, CATHERINE R. CONNORS, PIERCE ATWOOD LLP, Portland, ME USA.

         For Guilford-Sangerville Sanitary District, Veazie Sewer District, Verso Paper Corp, Kruger Energy (Usa) Inc, True Textiles Inc, Great Northern Paper Company LLC, Town of Bucksport, Lincoln Paper And Tissue LLC, Counter Claimants: CATHERINE R. CONNORS, PIERCE ATWOOD LLP, Portland, ME USA.

         For Penobscot Nation, Counter Defendant: KAIGHN SMITH, JR., LEAD ATTORNEY, ADRIANNE E. FOUTS, JAMES T. KILBRETH, MICHAEL L. BUESCHER, DRUMMOND WOODSUM, Portland, ME USA.

         For Janet T Mills, Attorney General for the State of Maine, Counter Claimant: GERALD REID, MAINE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, Augusta, ME USA; PAUL STERN, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Augusta, ME USA.

         For Members of Congress, Movant: L. SCOTT GOULD, LEAD ATTORNEY, LAW OFFICE OF L. SCOTT GOULD, Cape Elizabeth, ME USA.

         ORDER ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         George Z. Singal, United States District Judge.

         Before the Court are three motions for summary judgment: (1) the State Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the Alternative, for Dismissal for Failure to Join Indispensable Parties (ECF No. 117), (2) the United States' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 120) and (3) the Motion for Summary Judgment by Plaintiff Penobscot Nation (ECF No. 121/128-1). As explained herein,[1] the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART each Motion.

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

          Generally, a party is entitled to summary judgment if, on the record before the Court, it appears " that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2). " [T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). An issue is " genuine" if " the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. at 248. A " material fact" is one that has " the potential to affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable law." Nereida-Gonzalez v. Tirado--Delgado, 990 F.2d 701, 703 (1st Cir. 1993) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248) (additional citation omitted).

          The party moving for summary judgment must demonstrate an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). In determining whether this burden is met, the Court must view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and give that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences in its favor. Santoni v. Potter, 369 F.3d 594, 598 (1st Cir. 2004).

         Once the moving party has made this preliminary showing, the nonmoving party must " produce specific facts, in suitable evidentiary form, to establish the presence of a trialworthy issue." Triangle Trading Co. v. Robroy Indus., Inc., 200 F.3d 1, 2 (1st Cir. 1999) (citation and internal punctuation omitted); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). " Mere allegations, or conjecture unsupported in the record, are insufficient." Barros-Villahermosa v. United States, 642 F.3d 56, 58 (1st Cir. 2011) (quoting Rivera--Marcano v. Normeat Royal Dane Quality A/S, 998 F.2d 34, 37 (1st Cir. 1993)); see also Wilson v. Moulison N. Corp., 639 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2011) (" A properly supported summary judgment motion cannot be defeated by conclusory allegations, improbable inferences, periphrastic circumlocutions, or rank speculation." (citations omitted)). " As to any essential factual element of its claim on which the nonmovant would bear the burden of proof at trial, its failure to come forward with sufficient evidence to generate a trialworthy issue warrants summary judgment to the moving party." In re Spigel, 260 F.3d 27, 31 (1st Cir. 2001) (quoting In re Ralar Distribs., Inc., 4 F.3d 62, 67 (1st Cir. 1993)).

          Even when filed simultaneously, " [c]ross-motions for summary judgment require the district court to consider each motion separately, drawing all inferences in favor of each non-moving party in turn. AJC Int'l, Inc. v. Triple-S Propiedad, 790 F.3d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 2015) (internal quotations and citations omitted). In short, the above-described " standard is not affected by the presence of cross-motions for summary judgment." Alliance of Auto. Mfrs. v. Gwadosky, 430 F.3d 30, 34 (1st Cir. 2005) (citation omitted). " [T]he court must mull each motion separately, drawing inferences against each movant in turn." Cochran v. Quest Software, Inc., 328 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2003) (citation omitted).

         The Court notes that Local Rule 56 provides a detailed process by which the parties are to place before the Court the " material facts . . . as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue of material fact." D. Me. Loc. R. 56(b). Local Rule 56 calls for " separate, short, and concise" statements that may be readily admitted, denied or qualified by the opposing side. D. Me. Loc. R. 56(b)& (c). Additionally, the rule requires each statement to be followed by a " record citation . . . to a specific page or paragraph of identified record material supporting the assertion." D. Me. Loc. R. 56(f). " The court may disregard any statement of fact not supported by a specific citation to record material properly considered on summary judgment. The court shall have no independent duty to search or consider any part of the record not specifically referenced in the parties' separate statement of facts." Id.; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2) (" If a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may . . . consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion[.]" ).

         In this Order, the Court has endeavored to construct the facts in accordance with the letter and spirit of Local Rule 56. Doing so has required the Court to review 479 separately numbered paragraphs, many of which were compound, complex, and supported with citation to voluminous records.[2] Additionally, many of the numbered paragraphs were immaterial and/or obviously disputed in the context of this litigation.[3] In short, in multiple instances, each of the movants has failed to comply with the letter and spirit of Local Rule 56, making construction of the undisputed material facts unnecessarily difficult. However, the parties have maintained--even after the briefing was complete--that this matter is amenable to resolution on the record submitted. (See 10/14/15 Transcript (ECF No. 156) at 5.) The Court concurs in that assessment.[4]

         II. BACKGROUND [5]

         On August 20, 2012, Plaintiff Penobscot Nation, which is a federally recognized American Indian tribe in Maine, filed this action seeking to resolve ongoing disputes between the tribe and the State of Maine regarding a section of the Penobscot River. This Court allowed the United States to intervene as a plaintiff on its own behalf and as a trustee for the Penobscot Nation. (See generally United States' Complaint (ECF No. 58).) The named State Defendants in this matter are: Janet T. Mills, the current Attorney General for the State of Maine; Chandler Woodcock, the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (" DIFW" ); and Joel T. Wilkinson, Colonel of the Maine Warden Service. Additionally, the United States' Complaint directly names the State of Maine as a State Defendant.[6]

         The Penobscot Nation asserts that it was prompted to file this case in response to the August 8, 2012 Opinion issued by then-Maine Attorney General William J. Schneider regarding the respective regulatory jurisdiction of the . . . Penobscot Nation and the State of Maine relating to hunting and fishing on the main stem of the Penobscot River." (8/8/12 Ltr. from Atty. Gen. Schneider to Comm. Woodcock & Col. Wilkinson (ECF No. 8-2).) In relevant part, this Opinion concluded:

[T]he Penobscot Nation has authority to regulate hunting and fishing on those islands [in the main stem] included in its Reservation from Indian Island in Old Town, northward to the confluence of the East and West branches in Medway. Like private landowners, the Penobscot Nation may also restrict access to their lands, here islands, as it sees fit. However, the River itself is not part of the Penobscot Nation's Reservation, and therefore is not subject to its regulatory authority or proprietary control. The Penobscot River is held in trust by the State for all Maine citizens, and State law, including statutes and regulations governing hunting, are fully applicable there. 30 M.R.S. § 6204. Accordingly, members of the public engaged in hunting, fishing or other recreational activities on the waters of the Penobscot River are subject to Maine law as they would be elsewhere in the State, and are not subject to any additional restrictions from the Penobscot Nation.
To avoid friction on the Penobscot River, it is important that state and tribal officials, as well as members of the Penobscot Nation and the general public, have a clear understanding of the regulatory jurisdictions of the Penobscot Nation and the State of Maine. Both the State and the Penobscot Nation must encourage citizens to respond civilly to uniformed tribal and state game wardens performing their official duties. All citizens must heed and comply with ordinances promulgated by the Penobscot Nation governing the islands it owns, as well as State laws and regulations covering the River.

Id. The Penobscot Nation and the United States (together, " Plaintiffs" ) maintain that this 2012 Attorney General Opinion reflects a misinterpretation of the law governing the boundaries of their reservation and their rights to engage in sustenance fishing.[7] Thus, Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment clarifying both those boundaries and tribal fishing rights within the Penobscot River. In responding to Plaintiffs' multi-part requests for declaratory relief, State Defendants have asserted their own claim for declaratory relief regarding these same issues. (See State Defs. Amended Answer (ECF No. 59) at 11-14 & State Defs. Mot. for Summ. J. (ECF No. 117) at 1, 30-31 n. 36.)

         For purposes of this litigation, the parties agree that the " Main Stem" is a portion of the Penobscot River and stretches from Indian Island north to the confluence of the East and West Branches of the Penobscot River. (Stipulations (ECF No. 111) ¶¶ 3 & 4.) At present, the Main Stem is a non-tidal, navigable stretch of river that is approximately sixty miles long. (Id. & Penobscot Chem. Fibre Co., 30 F.P.C. 1465, 1466 (Dec. 9, 1963).) There are at least 146 islands located in the Main Stem. (Jt. Ex. 568 (ECF No. 108-68) at PageID # 5522; J. Banks. Decl. (ECF No. 140-1) ¶ 4.) These islands total between 4446 and 5000 acres. (Jt. Ex. 593 (ECF No. 108-93) at PageID # 5631; Jt. Ex. 568 (ECF No. 108-68) at PageID # 5522.) None of those islands contains a body of water in which fish live. (Barry Dana Decl. (ECF No 124-2) ¶ 12.) Within the Main Stem, there are stretches of river that contain no islands. (See, e.g., Jt. Exs. 301, 304, 309 & 310.) All told, the Main Stem islands, together with the bank-to-bank water surface of the Main Stem, cover approximately 13,760 acres. (State Defs. Ex. 8 (ECF No. 118-8) at PageID # 7090.)

         Before wading into the depths of the factual record the parties have placed before the Court, the Court first reviews the history of the key treaties and legislation that led to the present relationship between the State of Maine and the Penobscot Nation concerning the Main Stem.

         A. Legislative Background of Penobscot Nation Land in Maine

         In 1790, when Maine was still part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Congress passed the Indian Nonintercourse Act (" ITIA" ), 1 Stat. 137, which provided that " no sale of lands made by any Indians, or nation or tribe of Indians within the United States, shall be valid to any person or persons, or to any state, whether having the right of preemption to such lands or not, unless the same shall be made and duly executed at some public treaty, held under the authority of the United States." 1 Stat. 138.[8]

         1. The 1796 and 1818 Treaties

         Notwithstanding the language of ITIA, Massachusetts proceeded to negotiate two treaties with the Penobscot Nation that are relevant to the present case. The first treaty was negotiated in 1796 (the " 1796 Treaty" ). The subject of the 1796 Treaty was a six mile wide strip of land on each side of the Penobscot River stretching for thirty miles of the Main Stem. (Jt. Ex. 294 at PageID # 3858-59 (Transcription of 1796 Treaty).) After the execution of the 1796 Treaty, Massachusetts directed that the subject land be surveyed and laid out into townships and quarter townships, as follows:

Whereas this Commonwealth in August one thousand, seven hundred and ninety six, obtained of the Penobscot tribe of Indians their relinquishment of their claims to the lands six miles wide on each side of Penobscot River, extending from Nicholas Rock, so called, near the head of the tide in the said river, up the same river thirty miles, on a direct line, according to the general course thereof: and whereas ... it is necessary to have a survey of said land, and information of the quality and situation there Resolved that Salem Town Esqr. be vested with full power to have all the said Lands surveyed and laid out into Townships as near the contents of six miles square as the land will admit, and also into quarters of Townships as soon as may be, according to his discretion, & a plan thereof returned to him with a true description of the quantity and situation of each Township, and quarter parts thereof, as also of the streams and waters therein and of the number of Settlers thereon, who may have settled prior to the first day of August one thousand, seven hundred and ninety six, with the number of acres each Settler has under improvement, and the particular time of his settlement.

(P.D. Ex.1 at 202-203.) Park Holland, John Maynard, and John Chamberlain were engaged by Salem Town to survey the Penobscot tract and created a map reflecting their survey. (Jt. Ex. (ECF No. 110-32) at Page ID # 6384.) The tract surveyed by Holland, Maynard, and Chamberlain, comprised of 189,426 acres, became known as the Old Indian Purchase.[9] (P.D. Ex. 21 at 209; Jt. Ex. 732 (Map 1).) After accounting for land sold, in 1817, Massachusetts asserted it was " still the proprietor of 161,815 1/2 acres of land in the Old Indian Purchase." [10] (State Defs. Ex. 15 (ECF No. 118-15) at PageID # 7168.)

         On June 29, 1818, Massachusetts entered into another treaty with the Penobscot Nation. In this " 1818 Treaty," the Penobscot Nation ceded " all the lands [the Penobscot Nation possesses] on both sides of the Penobscot river, and the branches thereof, above the tract of thirty miles in length on both sides of said river, which said tribe [ceded in the 1796 Treaty]" but reserved four townships as well as " all the islands in the Penobscot river above Oldtown and including said Oldtown island." (P.D. Exs. 7 & 8 (1818 Treaty & Transcription of 1818 Treaty) at 45-46.) The 1818 Treaty also explicitly granted to the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts a right to " pass and repass" in any river, stream or pond that " runs through any of the lands hereby reserved [for the Penobscot Nation] for the purpose of transporting timber and other articles." (P.D. Ex. 8 at 46.)

         When Maine became a state in 1820,[11] the unsold public lands in Maine that were obtained under the treaties of 1796 and 1818 were divided between Maine and Massachusetts by Commissioners appointed for that purpose; this division included townships or unsold acreage located along the Penobscot River. (Jt. Ex. 667 (ECF No. 109-67) at PageID #s 5944-48, 5956; see also Jt. Ex. 732 (Map 2).) The December 28, 1822 report by the Commissioners assigns lands to each state. (Id. at PageID # 5943, 5945-46, 5947.)) From the Old Indian Purchase, the following unsold lands were assigned to Maine: Townships No. 1, 2, and 4, east of the Penobscot River, which townships later became Passadumkeag, Greenbush, and Bradley, respectively.[12] (Id. at PageID # 5947-5948; Jt. Ex. 757 (ECF No. 110-57) at PageID # 6587 (map dated 1829).)

         Thereafter, a deed dated June 10, 1833 documents a sale of the Penobscot Nation's four reserved townships from the 1818 Treaty to the State of Maine (the " 1833 Deed" ):

Know all men by these present that, we the Governor, Councillors and principal head men of the Penobscot Tribe of Indians in council assembled after mature deliberation and upon full consideration of a proposition made to us in behalf of said Tribe, by the State of Maine . . . do cede grant, bargain, sell and convey to said State, all the right, title and interest of said Tribe in and to their four townships of land lying north of the mouth of Piscataquis River . . . . To have and to hold to said State the above granted premises, with all the privileges and appurtenances thereto belonging forever.
And we do covenant with said State that we are authorized by the Laws and usage of said Tribe to convey as aforesaid and that we for ourselves and in behalf of said Tribe will forever warrant and defend the premises against the claims of all the members of said Tribe.

(PD Ex. 131 at 592.) The sale price was $50,000.[13] (Id.)

          2. United States v. Maine: The Land Claims Litigation

         In the 1970s, the Penobscot Nation claimed that Maine and Massachusetts had failed to have the 1796 and 1818 Treaties and the 1833 Deed confirmed by Congress in accordance with ITIA. The Penobscot Nation claimed that it consequently retained title to all of these lands. See, e.g., Maine v. Johnson, 498 F.3d 37, 41 (1st Cir. 2007) (citing Bottomly v. Passamaquoddy Tribe, 599 F.2d 1061, 1065 (1st Cir. 1979)); see also Passamaquoddy Tribe v. Maine, 75 F.3d 784, 787 (1st Cir. 1996) (explaining that the tribes then pursued claims to " nearly two-thirds of Maine's land mass" ). The land claims of the Penobscot Nation were ultimately pressed by the United States in a 1972 case titled United States v. Maine, D. Me. Civil No. 1969-ND (P.D. Ex. 223 (Complaint)).[14] Other Maine Indian tribes asserted similar claims involving similar land transactions that had occurred since 1790.[15]

         Settlement discussions in these cases began in March 1977 and were concluded with a stipulation of dismissal in August 1981. (See, e.g., P.D. Ex. 282 at 5941 (describing history of settlement discussions) & P.D. Ex. 233 at 3241-47 (stipulation of dismissal.) The tribes were represented at these negotiations in part by a committee of tribal representatives, including Rueben Phillips, Andrew Akins, James Sappier, and Timothy Love on behalf of the Penobscot Nation. (Phillips Decl. (ECF No. 124) ¶¶ 7-9.) The proposed settlement was presented to the members of the Penobscot Nation in early March 1980. (Phillips Decl. ¶¶ 12-17.) A tribal referendum vote on March 15, 1980 resulted in 320 votes in favor of the settlement and 128 opposed. (See P.D. Ex. 260 at 3940-42.)

         As part of the Stipulation of Dismissal in United States v. Maine, on April 17, 1981, the Penobscot Nation Tribal Council authorized then-Governor Timothy Love to execute a Release and Relinquishment. (Jt. Ex. 612 (ECF No 109-12) at PageID # 5742.) In accordance with this authorization, on April 21, 1981, Governor Timothy Love authorized the United States to stipulate to the final dismissal with prejudice of the claims the United States had brought on behalf of the Penobscot Nation and also explicitly released and relinquished the Penobscot Nation's claims to the extent provided in the related acts passed by Congress and the Maine Legislature. (Jt. Ex. 612 (ECF No 109-12) at PageID # 5743.) This Release and Relinquishment was reviewed by the Department of Justice. (Jt. Ex. 612 (ECF No. 109-12) at PageID # 5736.)

         3. The Passage of the Settlement Acts [16]

         Ultimately, the stipulation of dismissal in United States v. Maine (P.D. Ex. 233) was the culmination of the passage of two pieces of legislation: the Maine Implementing Act, 30 M.R.S.A. § § 6201-6214 (" MIA" ), and the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act, 25 U.S.C. § § 1721-1735 (" MICSA" ). Throughout this Order, the Court will refer to MICSA and MIA collectively as " the Settlement Acts." While the Settlement Acts operate in tandem, each act has its own legislative history, and the parties have drawn extensively from those legislative histories in constructing the factual record now before the Court.

         a. MIA: 30 M.R.S.A. § § 6201-6214

         Working on the premise that this particular legislative action needed to occur " as soon as possible," L.D. 2037, the negotiated proposal that was thereafter enacted as MIA, was presented to the Maine Legislature in mid-March 1980. (Hull Decl. (ECF No. 119-32) ¶ 7.) On March 28, 1980, the Maine Legislature's Joint Select Committee on Indian Land Claims held a public hearing on L.D. 2037. (See P.D. Ex. 258 at 3738.) In his opening remarks at the hearing, Attorney General Cohen described " the Settlement Proposal" and his reasons for recommending " this Settlement to the people of the State of Maine." (P.D. Ex. 258 at 3740.) While acknowledging that " [i]t would be an overstatement to say that there would be no difference between Indians' Lands and non-Indians' Lands" under terms of L.D. 2037, he described the proposed legislation as " generally consistent with [his] belief that all people in the State should be subject to the same laws. While there are some exceptions which recognize historical Indian concerns, in all instances the State's essential interest is protected." (Id. at 3744-45.)

         Thomas Tureen, appearing at the hearing as counsel on behalf of the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe, explained that the negotiations that led to the current proposal occurred only because " feelings of mistrust began to break down and a spirit of reconciliation made itself felt." (Id. at 3763.) Tureen flagged the exercise of " tribal powers in certain areas of particular cultural importance such as hunting and fishing" as an issue that had been important for the State to understand. (Id.) Mr. Aikens, Chair of the Passamaquoddy-Penobscot Land Claims Committee, also spoke and indicated that part of the negotiation with the State had been " that neither side would make any changes or amendment to the package. We have not and we expect the same in return from the Maine Senate or House." (Id. at 3765-66.)

         The Committee heard concerns about the hunting and fishing provisions of the proposed settlement. By way of example, Joe Floyd, a Public Member of the Atlantic Seamen's Salmon Commission, expressed concern that " critical parts of the Penobscot River" would " fall within the confines of the Settlement," which he said " could spell danger to the salmon." (Id. at 3855-56.) In response to expressed concerns about the sustenance fishing rights contemplated under L.D. 2037, Deputy Attorney General Patterson explained:

Currently under Maine Law, the Indians can hunt and fish on their existing reservation for their own sustenance without regulation of the State. That's a right which the State gave to the Maine Indians on their reservations a number of years ago and the contemplation of this draft was to keep in place that same kind of right and provide that the Indians could continue to sustenance hunt and fish and that that would provide a legitimate basis for distinction between Indian and non-Indian hunting and fishing.

(Id. at 3793-94.) In response to later questions, Deputy Attorney General Patterson similarly explained:

[T]he State currently lets Indians and the Legislature currently lets Indians engage and regulate their own hunting and fishing on their on reservations. That's a current state law. That's in Title 12, § 7076. That was a right which the State gave to the Indians on their reservations some years ago. So in large measure, the policy embodied here was long ago recognized by the Legislature of the State. That's why the right to sustenance hunt and fish on reservations which is found in Sub-§ 4 on Page 9, is not such a major departure from current policy.

(Id. at 3894.)

         Following this hearing, additional memoranda were drafted and distributed suggesting clarifications that might be made to L.D. 2037. The March 31, 1980 Preliminary Bill Analysis by John Hull, who was then working as a staff attorney for the Maine Legislature, noted, in relevant part, that the definition of the Penobscot Indian Reservation in L.D. 2037 " is unclear" with respect to whether " the boundaries extend to high or low water mark on tidal waters, or beyond that on marine waters." (P.D. Ex. 262 at 3945.)

         A memo from then-Attorney General Richard S. Cohen, dated April 1, 1980, was provided to the Joint Select Committee on Indian Land Claims. It included a section, titled " Boundaries of the Reservation and Territory," that read in relevant part:

The external boundaries of the Reservations are limited to those areas described in the bill including any riparian or littoral rights expressly reserved by the original treaties with Massachusetts or which are included by the operation of law. . . .
.... In any event the Tribes will not own the bed of any Great Pond or any waters of a Great Pond or river or stream, all of which are owned by the State in trust for all citizens. Jurisdiction of the Tribes (i.e. ordinance powers, law enforcement) will be coextensive and coterminous with land ownership.

(P.D. Ex. 263 at 3965-66.) The first portion of this section of the memo became part of the April 2, 1980 Report of the Joint Select Committee on Indian Land Claims Relating to L.D. 2037, " An Act to Provide for Implementation of the Settlement of Claims by Indians in the State of Maine and to create the Passamaquoddy Indian Territory and Penobscot Indian Territory," with minimal changes:

The boundaries of the Reservations are limited to those areas described in the bill, but include any riparian or littoral rights expressly reserved by the original treaties with Massachusetts or by operation of State law.

(P.D. Ex. 264 at 3971 (changes noted by added emphasis).) This was one of fourteen specific interpretations that the Joint Select Committee on Indian Land Claims announced as part of its understanding of MIA at the time of its passage.[17] (See P.D. Ex. 272 at 4023 (Representative Post explaining that " as we vote on this particular piece of legislation, we accept the understanding that is reflected" in the 4/2/1980 Joint Committee Report).)

         Upon introducing L.D. 2037 to the Maine Senate on April 2, 1980, Senator Samuel Collins acknowledged some technical amendments had been made at the committee level but stated that " [t]he amending process is not open to the Legislature in the manner of our usual legislation, because this is the settlement of a law suit [sic]. Just as with a negotiated labor contract we cannot make the changes." (P.D. Ex. 271 at 4016.) He explained that, if enacted, the bill would be " a unique document" that would not " take effect unless Congress adopts it and finances it" and could not be readily amended once ratified by Congress. (Id.) He further stated, however, " It is the expectation of the committee . . . that at the time of enactment, we will have before you a further report of the committee in which we express some of our understandings of various words and provisions of this very complicated document, so that you may have them as a part of the legislative history of the act. No act of this complexity will be free from question marks. There will be interpretations necessary through the years just as there are interpretations necessary of all the statutes that we pass." (P.D. Ex. 271 at 4016.) Senator Collins also noted that L.D. 2037 " [w]ill be extending some hunting, fishing and trapping rights to about 800 Indian people in 300,000 acres." (Id.)

         Ultimately, on April 2, 1980, the Maine Senate voted to approve L.D. 2037. (P.D. Ex. 271 at 4020.) On April 3, 1980, the Maine House voted to approve it. (P.D. Ex. 272 at 4025.) Thereafter, it was signed by Governor Brennan. On April 3, 1980, the Maine House of Representatives passed an order (H.P. 2055) to place documents in the Legislative Files, as did the Maine Senate (the " Legislative Files Order" ). (P.D. Ex. 274 at 4031.) The Legislative Files Order directed that the following documents " be placed in the Legislative files" : (1) " The report of the Joint Select Committee on Indian Land Claims," which included a memorandum to the Committee from Attorney General Richard S. Cohen, dated April 2, 1980 (" Report of Maine's Joint Committee" ); and (2) " The transcript of the hearing of the Joint Select Committee on Indian Land Claims, including the statement of the Honorable James B. Longley and the memorandum to the committee from Maine Attorney General Richard S. Cohen, dated March 28, 1980." (Id.)[18]

         In a declaration dated June 16, 2014, Michael Pearson, a member of the Maine Legislature and the Joint Select Committee in 1980, stated that he believes the sustenance fishing provisions of MIA were " intended to allow members of the Penobscot Nation to take fish for their sustenance from the Penobscot River in waters from Indian Island, near Old Town, at least as far up the River to Medway, where members of the Tribe had always taken fish for their subsistence" and were " not intended to confine members of the Penobscot Nation to seek out fish for their sustenance on the surfaces of the islands or within restricted zones of the River next to the islands." (Pearson Decl. (ECF No. 119-37) at PageID # 7363.) Likewise, Bennett Katz, then-Chair of the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission, which was created by MIA, and previously a member of the Maine Senate at the time of MIA's passage, stated in a 1995 letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that he could not imagine that his colleagues intended MIA to be interpreted to mean that " [t]he sustenance fishing right granted to the Penobscot Nation is not on the Penobscot River" and that " [o]nly the islands and none of the waters in the Penobscot River constitute the Penobscot Reservation." (Jt. Ex. 161 (ECF No. 104-61) at PageID # 2200.) Katz went on to state that he was " certain the Penobscots never would have agreed to the Settlement had it been understood that their fishing right extended only to the tops of their islands" and that it would have " been assumed that the right [to sustenance fish] would be exercised in the waters of the Penobscot River" because any other interpretation would not " make sense." (Id.)

         b. MICSA: 25 U.S.C. § § 1721-1735

         With the State's enactment of MIA, attention shifted to Congress. The Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs held hearings on July 1 and 2, 1980 (P.D. Ex. 278), hearing testimony from tribal members and non-tribal Maine residents as well as state officials.[19] A map that was presented to Congress during the sessions on ratifying MIA showed the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Reservations as shaded in red. (Sproul Decl. (ECF No. 141-2) at PageID # 8185 (referencing Jt. Ex. 732 (ECF No. 110-32) Map 30).) On this map, " river and lakes adjacent to settlement lands" are shaded white. (Jt. Ex. 732 (ECF No. 110-32) Map 30.)

         At the Senate Committee hearing, the Committee requested that Maine's Governor and other state officials provide written responses to certain questions, including whether MIA and the proposed federal statute contain " jurisdictional language [that] bestow[s] preferential treatment upon the tribes." In his August 12, 1980 " joint response" letter, Attorney General Cohen responded to that question as follows:

Under [MIA], the Penobscot Nation and Passamaquoddy Tribe are given certain rights and authority within the 300,000 acres of " Indian Territory." To the extent that these rights and authority exceed that given any Maine municipality, they do so only to a limited extent and in recognition of traditional Indian activities. . . . The most significant aspect of this limited expansion of authority is in the area of hunting and trapping and, to a limited extent, fishing in Indian Territory. Even in this area, the Indian Tribes must treat Indians and non-Indians alike, except for subsistence provisions, and Tribal authority can be overridden by the State if it begins to affect hunting, trapping or fishing outside the Indian Territory. Generally the Act does not provide Indians with preferential treatment. To the contrary, we believe the Implementing Act establishes a measure of equality between Indian and non-Indian citizens normally not existing in other States. Indeed, the Act recovers back for the State almost all of the jurisdiction that had been lost as a result of recent Court decisions.
Obviously no one can guarantee that there will be no litigation in the future over the meaning of certain provisions in the Maine Implementing Act or S.2829. However, the provisions of S. 2829 and the Implementing Act have been carefully drafted and reviewed to eliminate insofar as possible any future legal disputes. Particular care was taken to insure that S. 2829 is adequate to finally extinguish the land claims, and as to those provisions we are satisfied that they have been drafted as carefully as possible. Nevertheless, litigation over this and other provisions is always possible and we cannot prevent the filing of future suits. Any contract, agreement or legislation always contains unanticipated ambiguities that sometimes can only be resolved through the courts. In our judgment, however, should questions arise in the future over the legal status of Indians and Indian lands in Maine, those questions can be answered in the context of the Maine Implementing Act and S. 2829 rather than using general principles of Indian law.

(P.D. Ex. 278 at 4436-4437.)

         In the final House and Senate committee reports (" Committee Reports" ) on the federal act ratifying the terms of MIA, Congress confirmed in its " Summary of Major Provisions" that " the settlement . . . provides that the . . . Penobscot Nation will retain as reservations those lands and natural resources which were reserved to them in their treaties with Massachusetts and not subsequently transferred." (P.D. Ex. 282 at 5946; P.D. Ex. 283 at 6008.) Congress also addressed as " Special Issues" concerns raised in testimony and written materials to the House and Senate Committees, all of which the committees said were " unfounded." (P.D. Ex. 282 at 5942; P.D. Ex. 283 at 6004.) In response to the concern " [t]hat the settlement amounts to a 'destruction of the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the . . . Penobscot Nation," the Committee Reports stated, in identical language, that the settlement " protects the sovereignty of . . . the Penobscot Nation" and that " hunting and fishing provisions discussed in paragraph 7" of the " Special Issues" were " examples of expressly retained sovereign activities." (P.D. Ex. 282 at 5942-43; P.D. Ex. 283 at 6004-05.) The Committee Reports then indicate in paragraph 7: " Prior to the settlement, Maine law recognized . . . the Penobscot Nation's right to control Indian subsistence hunting and fishing within [its] reservation[], but the State of Maine claimed the right to alter or terminate these rights at any time." (P.D. Ex. 282 at 5944-45; P.D. Ex. 283 at 6006-07.) In identical language, each report continued, " Under Title 30, Sec. 6207 as established by the Maine Implementing Act . . . the Penobscot Nation [has] the permanent right to control hunting and fishing . . . within [its] reservation. The power of the State of Maine to alter such rights without the consent of the [Tribe] is ended. . . . The State has only a residual right to prevent the [Tribe] from exercising [its] hunting and fishing rights in a manner which has a substantially adverse effect on stocks in or on adjacent lands or waters . . . not unlike that which other states have been found to have in connection with federal Indian treaty hunting and fishing rights." (P.D. Ex. 282 at 5944-45; P.D. Ex. 283 at 6006-07.)

         With the passage of MICSA, Congress approved and ratified all earlier transfers of land and natural resources by or on behalf of the Penobscot Nation. See 25 U.S.C. § 1723. This ratification by its express terms included not only " any voluntary or involuntary sale, grant, lease, allotment, partition, or other conveyance," but also " any act, event, or circumstance that resulted in a change in title to, possession of, dominion over, or control of land or natural resources." 25 U.S.C. § 1722(n). Before the end of 1980, the Settlement Acts were in effect.

         B. Post-Settlement Acts: The State and the Penobscot Nation Chart a New Course [20]

         " The slate is effectively wiped clean," stated Penobscot Nation counsel Thomas Tureen after Maine's passage of MIA. (Jt. Ex. 580 (ECF No. 108-80) at PageID # 5563.) Likewise, the Native American Rights Fund, whose lawyers represented the Penobscot Nation in the land claims case, celebrated the 1980 Acts by declaring: " The Maine settlement is far and away the greatest Indian victory of its kind in the history of the United States." (Jt. Ex. 582 (ECF No. 108-82) at PageID # 5566.)

         On January 9, 1981, the Department of the Interior (the " DOI" ) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the " extinguishment of all land and related claims of the Maine Indians" and, in relevant part, stating that MICSA " extinguishes any claims of aboriginal title of the Maine Indians anywhere in the United States and bars all claims based on such title. This section also extinguishes any land claims in the State of Maine arising under federal law by any Indian tribe . . . ." (P.D. Ex. 288 at 6063 (46 Fed.Reg. 2390 (Dep't of Interior Jan. 9, 1981)).)

         Since 1980, the Penobscot Nation has posted signs on certain islands in the Main Stem. (State Defs. Ex. 8 (ECF No. 118-8) at PageID # 7083.) Specifically, since at least 1983, the Penobscot Nation has posted signs on some (but not all) of the islands in the Main Stem that state: " PENOBSCOT INDIAN RESERVATION. NO TRESPASSING WITHOUT PERMISSION. VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED." (State Defs. Ex. 8 at PageID # 7083-84.) Similar postings do not appear at the public boat launches or on the banks of the Main Stem, nor have such postings appeared in the past at these locations. (Id. at PageID # 7084.) Notably, non-tribal hunters and trappers generally access the Main Stem from these river banks, especially the public boat launches. (Id. at PageID # 7084-85 & Ring Aff. (ECF No 52-3).)

         The Penobscot Nation has posted a three-panel informational kiosk at the Costigan Boat Launch in Milford, which was funded by the DOI. (Id. at PageID # 7083; Jt. Ex. 705 (ECF No. 110-5) at PageID # 6156.) With respect to permits, the panel states: " To obtain fiddleheads or duck hunting permits for the islands, for information regarding other allowable uses of the reservation or to report water quality problems, contact the Penobscot Nation Department of Natural Resources at 12 Wabanaki Way, Indian Island, Old Town, Me. 04468 or call (207) 827-7776." (Jt. Ex. 705 (ECF No. 110-5) at PageID # 6156.)

         Likewise, the Penobscot Nation's woodland territory beyond the Main Stem contains postings. (State Defs. Ex. 8 at PageID # 7084.) Generally, these posting signs read: " NOTICE Penobscot Nation Indian Territory Hunting, trapping, and other taking of wildlife under exclusive authority of the Penobscot Nation. Special restrictions may apply. Violators will be prosecuted. PERMIT MAY BE REQUIRED Contact: Wildlife & Parks Community Bldg. Indian Is., Me. 04465 1-207-827-777." (State Defs. Ex. 8. at PageID # 7084; Georgia Decl. Ex. E (ECF No. 118-4) at PageID # 7037.) These postings are not visible from the Main Stem, nor do the signs notify the public that the Penobscot Nation regulates activities on the Main Stem. (State Defs. Ex. 8 at PageID # 7084.)

         Since the passage of the Settlement Acts, the Penobscot Nation does not and has not required non-tribal members to purchase " access permits" in order to be on the waters of the Main Stem for navigating, fishing, or sampling. (Banks Decl. (ECF No. 140-1) ¶ 5; Kirk Loring Decl. (ECF No. 140-21) ¶ 12 (regarding 1976-2001 when Loring was Chief Game Warden for tribe).) However, the Penobscot Nation Warden Service has patrolled the Main Stem when it is not ice-bound, as it has done since it began operating its own warden service in 1976. (Kirk Loring Aff. (ECF No. 119-12) ¶¶ 8 & 9; Gould Decl. (ECF No. 140-2) ¶ 5.) The Penobscot Nation Warden Service historically has employed approximately four wardens who have patrolled in the Main Stem. (Kirk Loring Aff. (ECF No. 119-12) ¶ 4.) Under various Maine state laws, Penobscot Nation wardens are cross-deputized to enforce state laws within Penobscot Indian territory and have been granted the powers of a game warden outside said territory.[21] See, e.g., 12 M.R.S.A. § 10401.

         During the early years following the passage of the Settlement Acts, the game wardens for Penobscot Nation and Maine occasionally collaborated on patrols and enforcement actions in the Main Stem. (See, e.g., Dunham Decl. (ECF No. 118-2) P2; Georgia Decl. (ECF NO. 118-4) ¶¶ 5, 6-8; Georgia Decl. (ECF NO. 148-2) ¶¶ 4, 12; Wilkinson Aff. (ECF No. 118-6) at PageID # 7052; see also Jt. Exs. 85-87 (ECF Nos. 103-35-103-37) at PageID # 1697-1700 (documenting game warden collaboration on the summonsing of Kirk Francis).) More recently, the Main Stem patrol and enforcement actions by the wardens employed by the Penobscot Nation and the State have become contentious. (See, e.g., Wilkinson Aff. (ECF No. 118-6) at PageID # 7052-53.) In a May 2005 memo from DIFW, Dunham expressed his concerns that non-tribal trappers were being advised by tribal game wardens that their trapping activities violated tribal law and that the Penobscot Nation " claimed" the River " bank-to-bank." (See, e.g., Dunham Decl. (ECF No. 118-2) at PageID # 3310.) Dunham complained about the lack of clarity regarding the boundaries of the reservation lands but asserted that " [t]he rule of thumb has always been the halfway point between the island and the mainland" but " [t]he water belongs to the State." [22] (Id.)

         The record contains dueling declarations regarding a November 12, 2011 interaction between Penobscot Nation Game Warden Richard Adams and a four-person duck hunting party. Jennifer Davis Dykstra was a member of the duck hunting party that was hunting from a boat on the Main Stem. As the party approached the Costigan boat landing, Penobscot Nation game warden Richard Adams approached the party and asked to see their hunting permits. The group did not have any permits from the Penobscot Nation and Adams indicated that they would need a Penobscot hunting permit to hunt in the Main Stem, even if ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.