Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Richard W. Judd

Second Committee Member

Jacques Ferland

Third Committee Member

Darren J. Ranco


In the last three decades, tribal gaming in Maine has been a controversial issue. The Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation have found themselves deeply intertwined in this issue for the last thirty years, since they have struggled to operate and initiate tribal gaming facilities on reservation lands. Despite the fact that the state opposed tribal gaming proposals and ventures, Maine expanded gaming practices. The leading question, which drove this research, was: Why did the Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation have such a difficult time proposing gaming initiatives, given the fact that the state had expanded gaming? In order to answer this question a social, political and legal historical approach was utilized. During this study federal and state court cases, as well as laws were examined. In addition, testimony and interviews were studied. A couple of additional interviews with tribal members were also conducted. This study focuses on early tribal gaming initiatives and covers a thirteen year period from 1980 to 1993. There were several events that led to the focus of this specific time frame. Following the Maine Implementing Act of 1980, the tribal-state relationship changed. In 1983, beano was banned on Indian Island by the state, since the operation failed to coincide with the state's interpretation of the tribe's status as a sovereign nation. From 1983 onward, there was an abundance of tribal and state activity pertaining to tribal-gaming and gaming in general. The study ends in 1993 when the Passamaquoddy Tribe put forth a bill proposing a casino in Calais, Maine, which was eventually defeated. While this specific period within the state was examined, attention was also given to early national measures, which impacted tribal gaming. The controversy, which has surrounded tribal gaming, has had little to do with gaming as a practice, but with the issue of tribal sovereignty. Furthermore, tribal gaming has been initiated by tribes as a means of asserting self determination and inherent tribal sovereignty. This is true for the Passamaquoddy Tribe & Penobscot Nation, who both have a unique relationship with the state and who are the focal point of this study. As a result of the interpretations and perspectives connected with the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act and the Maine Implementing Act of 1980, the issue of sovereignty has impacted economic development initiatives such as gaming. In the midst of this, state opposition of tribal gaming was orchestrated with the intent to limit tribal sovereignty.