AGO 2008-04.

Case Date:September 25, 2008
Court:Maine
 
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Maine Attorney General Opinions 2008. AGO 2008-04. 2008-04September 25, 2008Chief Brenda ComlnanderHoulton Band of Maliseet Indians 88 Bell Road Littleton, ME 04730 Re: 2002 Intergovernmental AgreementDear Chief Commander: By letter dated August 27,2008, you requested an opinion as to whether, given 30 M.R.S.A. § 6206-A, the 2002 Intergovernmental Agreement between the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians (the "Band") and the State of Maine would authorize the Maliseet tribal court to exercise jurisdiction over Maliseet child welfare cases. It is my opinion that the Intergovernmental Agreement does not authorize the Maliseet tribal court to exercise jurisdiction over Maliseet child welfare cases. Rather, the Maliseet tribal court could exercise jurisdiction over such cases only pursuant to an amendment to the Act to Implement the Maine Indian Claims Settlem'ent (the "Implementing Act"), 30 M.R.S.A. §§ 6201-6214. The 2002 Intergovernmental Agreement essentially authorizes the transfer of child welfare cases involving a Maliseet child to either the Penobscot tribal court or the Passamaquoddy tribal court.(fn1) While the Agreement contemplates that the Band may, in the future, establish its own tribal court, it does not vest in such court jurisdiction to hear child welfare cases. Moreover, in my view, any contrary interpretation of the Intergovernmental Agreement would conflict with Sections 6204 and 6206-A of the Implementing Act. Those sections state:
Except as otherwise provided in this Act, all Indians, Indian nations, and tribes and bands of Indians in the State and any lands or other natural resources
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