A small group of FCMPP members (Jim Matlack, Shirley Hager, Diane Oltarzewski, Janet Hough, Ann Dodd-Collins and Wayne Cobb) gathered together on July 8th for lunch and a discussion of future FCMPP activities as well as its processes and structure. It was a cordial, extended, and roaming exchange of views and expectations
We agreed that FCMPP should continue to honor its dual emphases from its founding–both civil liberties/legal rights and Wabanaki (Tribal-state relations) issues. Due to the loss of
certain individuals who were closely informed about criminal/restorative justice issues, as well as the rising concern for Tribal justice in recent years, FCMPP has focused almost exclusively on Wabanaki-related issues in recent years. Important personal relationships have been established with Tribal leaders, and Quakers are recognized as reliable allies in campaigns to extend a fuller measure of sovereignty to the Tribes. Yet future politics in Maine are unpredictable and we may find that our work requires renewed focus on the civil liberties agenda.
As a result of the heightened attention to Wabanaki issues, Shirley has taken primary leadership for FCMPP due to her prior experience with these concerns. She has performed admirably but now feels it is important to share leadership for this work, both for the future of FCMPP and to lessen the burdens of her current role. Diane has also said that she wants to step back for a while after a period of intense political activism with FCMPP.
There is a need for new, more active participants in FCMPP and for fresh potential leaders. No certainties emerged from the long conversation, however the group wondered what issues now reach “faith level” engagement among younger Friends. We proposed to approach a young veteran activist among us to help us discern the way forward, both in terms of issues and how we address them, and also how we attract young Friends to our work.
It was agreed that FCMPP should continue to work closely with the Episcopal Committee on Indian Relations. A group of socially active Unitarians (MUUSAN) may also prove to be
valuable allies. These three groups might well join in future meetings with Tribal leaders to avoid duplication of effort and to ease their schedules.
The New England Yearly Meeting Apology project was discussed. So far, Shirley has contacted Tribal leaders of all but one of the Tribes in Maine to make sure that they are
aware of the intent of this project and have a chance to express their willingness to receive the Apology. Shirley has shared their feedback with the NEYM Right Relationship Resource Group that is shepherding the Apology and who will be sending official letters to Tribal leaders.
Looking ahead we expect that a successor bill (or several bills) to L.D. 1626 will emerge in the
Maine legislature. FCMPP will again seek to advance such bill(s)toward passage. New bill numbers will not be released until January. A new Minute/Letter from FCMPP will be
needed to express continued Quaker support for relevant sovereignty legislation. This should
be drafted and cleared so that both Falmouth and Vassalboro Quarterly Meetings can approve the message in timely fashion. Jim Matlack and Wayne Cobb volunteered to look at the previous minutes approved by both Quarters, and to suggest updated language that would be relevant to any new legislation being proposed.
Further efforts should also be made to seek support from Senators King and Collins for a Senate counterpart to H.R. 6707, especially since it is now apparent that Governor Mills has sought to delay consideration of this bill. HR 6707 is the bill introduced by Jared Golden to the House: Advancing Equality for Wabanaki Nations Act.
We anticipate a meeting of the whole in late September or early October.
Jim Matlack, Clerk, FCMPP