Another issue which emerged in the 1960s was a land claims case in which Maine’s native inhabitants pursued rights to some 5 million hectares (12.5 million acres) of ancestral lands. The Passamaquoddy and Penobscot peoples rested their claims on the Indian Nonintercourse Act of 1790, which stated that sales of Native American land must be approved by the Congress of the United States. Since Congress did not approve sales of the two groups’ land in the 18th and 19th centuries, these sales were invalid, lawyers for the Native Americans argued. In a 1980 settlement, the U.S. government paid Maine’s native peoples $81.5 million to give up their claims to the land. With the money, the two groups purchased 121,000 hectares (300,000 acres) of land, invested in a variety of business ventures, and put the remaining money in a trust fund.
While some native people opposed the settlement, calling it the final sell-out and a threat to their traditional culture, most welcomed the opportunity to turn the funds toward solving persistent social and economic problems. Few Penobscots remain who know their ancestral language, and many cultural traditions have been lost. The Passamaquoddy codified their language in the 1970s and employed bilingual teachers to help preserve its heritage.
Like the native population, the state at large faced questions about how to take advantage of economic opportunities while preserving a way of life. From 1970 to 1980 Maine enjoyed a population growth of 13.2 percent, exceeding the national average. During the 1980s the population grew an additional 9 percent to 1.2 million people, and the state improved its place in per capita income from 41st in the nation to 31st between 1980 and 1987.
Many newcomers point to Maine’s lifestyle and the availability of relatively inexpensive land as the main attractions. Ironically, the economic and population growth that eluded the state in the 1950s and 1960s may have helped preserve a lifestyle that now brings people to the state. While Maine enjoyed growth in the 1970s and 1980s, the 1990s reveal that not all of its people shared in the prosperity. Many Maine residents are unemployed or underemployed, or depend on low-paying service jobs, many in the tourist industry. Perhaps the state’s biggest challenge is to preserve the natural beauty of Maine while bringing in better jobs for its people. "Maine" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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