A number of pending legal battles by American Indians for return of land in Eastern states received a boost Oct. 10 when President Carter signed a $81.5 million settlement with two Maine tribes which had claimed two-thirds of the state.
Passage of the agreement by Congress, which is expected to authorize the money in November, recognizes the validity of the 1790 Non-intercourse Act, Monitor correspondent Clayton Jones reports. That act barred land transactions with Indians east of the Mississippi River unless federally approved, and is the basis for land claims by several tribes, including the Mohawk and Oneida in New York, the Catawba in South Carolina, the Chittamacha in Louisiana, the Wampanoag in Massachusetts, adn the Western Pequot and Schagticoke in Connecticut.
"This shows the Indians are serious about their claims," says Suzan Harjo of the Native American Rights Council in Washington. The Maine settlement money will be used to purchase timberland and several businesses for the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes.