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THP book)Maine is the only state in the nation to have tribal representatives seated in its legislative body, a practice that began in the 1820s. Although the representatives from the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe don't have voting power on the house floor, they serve on committees and may chair committees. Donna's first session as representative of the Penobscot Nation was a difficult one?a personal struggle to have a "voice," but also because of the issues: changing offensive names, teaching Native American history in Maine schools, casinos and racinos, and the interpretation of sovereign rights for tribes. Some of the struggles and issues remain as she continues to serve, and the perspective she offers?as a Native American and as a legislator?is both valuable and fascinating.
Donna Loring grew up on Indian Island and graduated from the University of Maine at Orono with a BA in Political Science. Donna is also a Vietnam veteran who served in the communications center at Long Binh Army Base located approximately thirty miles northeast of Saigon. It was her job to process all the casualty reports for Southeast Asia. She was stationed in Vietnam from November of 1967 to November of 1968 and served during the TET Offensive. Her professional background is in law enforcement and she is a graduate of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. She was the first woman police academy graduate to become police chief in the state of Maine and served as the police chief for the Penobscot Nation from 1984û90. In 1992 she became the first woman director of security at Bowdoin College, a position she held until March of 1997. Donna was appointed aide de camp to then-governor Angus King on March 17, 1999, and was commissioned with the rank of colonel by the governor. She was advisor to former Governor King on women veterans' affairs. On November 4, 1999, Donna received the Mary Ann Hartman Award from the University of Maine's Women in Curriculum and Women's Studies Program. The award recognizes outstanding Maine women for their accomplishments in the arts, politics, business, education, and community service. She has served in the Maine State Legislature as the tribal representative of the Penobscot Nation from 1998û2004, and 2005 to the present.
Table of Contents
A Brief History of Indian Legislative Representatives in the Maine Legislature, by S. Glenn Starbird, Jr., 1983; updated by Donald Soctomah, 1999, and by Donna M. Loring, 2001
A List of Penobscot and Passamaquoddy Legislative Representatives
Introduction: Now is the time to end our one-hundred-and-eighty-year silence
Setting the stage
A nation is never conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground.-Cheyenne proverb
We fight and fight and fight and fight for every inch of respect and dignity due us as human beings
"The town of Houlton bulldozed the tribe's tarpaper shacks without warning and in the middle of winter."-Chief Brenda Commander, Houlton Band of Maliseets
...a program that was doing a great service to Maine's people of color and minority populations
...she was insulted by the word but never felt empowered enough to say anything
"Representative Loring, would you like to second that motion?"-Senator Susan Longley
The "correction" bill will need active support if the legislature is going to salvage the integrity of its own process
I must be honest and say I do not see a bright future for this bill. The gaming is going to kill it
"They don't even celebrate Columbus Day!"-Barbara Walters, ABC "20/20"
We needed to win this one for them
"The governor and the legislature got ambushed by a small group of Indians."-Bangor Daily News
Can we trust the legislative process to work the way we intended it to in the Land Claims Settlement Act?
Today we made history
When the smoke had settled, it was yet another Indian massacre
"Donna, you kicked ass!"
I'm not sure how this will play out, but I am sure that MITSC will never be the same
"Wouldn't you be better off if you became one with the majority?"
How ironic-Native presence is so prominent in the political system of this country and yet we are made invisible by it
"If such a site were created we could have the Penobscots there one weekend, and the KKK demonstrating the next."-Paul Stern, Deputy Attorney General
The whole situation was one of many political insults we suffer in the white man's world
We tried to explain we had been cleared, but one of Al Gore's advance people threatened to have the Secret Service remove us!
We are tribal citizens, but we are also Maine citizens without a vote or a voice for our tribes
It is time for Maine state government to take a fresh look at Maine tribal governments
Judge Crowley orders chiefs to jail for contempt
The tribes were in full agreement
"When you make a people invisible, you don't want to talk about their history."
Indian governments need to be treated as such, with respect and dignity, and looked upon as assets, not liabilities
This committee would recognize the unique relationship that exists between the tribes and the state, as well as facilitate knowing each other and each other's governmental responsibilities
I'm not giving up, but I can see it's going to take another two years, minimum
Tribal seats are contemplated in other states
When the chair asked if anyone would be speaking against my education bill, one male voice said, "Not on your life, lady!"
I feel like I'm swimming against the current, but then again, I've been swimming against the current all my life
The Baxter students got their public apology from the State of Maine after thirty years, but what a tremendous price they had to pay for it!
"Voices of change will never be silenced."-Elizabeth (Libby) Mitchell, former speaker of the house
My goodness, I sound like a politician!
It's tough to wait. This bill is probably the most important Indian bill that ever hit the legislature
The Land Claims Settlement Act was supposed to affirm our sovereign rights, not deny them!
"I don't drink beer, I don't play golf, but I sure would like to vote."
The notes from my comrades made me feel very good, and for once, even if this is short-lived, I made a difference
Education will help prevent hatred and prejudice. It will shine a light on that dark place where Indian people have been hidden for almost two hundred years
Who are the real human rights abusers? All this time we thought it was China!
Judge Crowley's decision and the Maine Supreme Judicial Court's decision were dead wrong
The World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked by terrorists
The state is taking Maliseet children from their homes in record numbers-five times the national average
...just think, for the very first time in Maine history the tribal chiefs would be addressing a joint session of the legislature!
Judge Crowley just basically signed the paper companies' order and changed the dates
"Kittery site would employ 4,000 and fetch $100 million a year for state."-Bangor Daily News
On March 11, 2002, the legislature observed the "State of the Tribes" for the first time in Maine history
I am proud of all the Wabanaki warriors who have served and who remain role models for future generations
This cartoon was dehumanizing. Ironically, it was in the paper the day after the first-ever "State of the Tribes Address."
"I am pleased to appoint you as house chair of the Casino Study Committee."
The Struggle Continues
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