In 2006, when I was inaugurated into the office of the Chief of the Penobscot Nation, I realized that growing up on this reservation surrounded by extraordinary people had brought me to this place. Being raised on Indian Island was a privilege that I didn't take lightly.
On Oak Hill, the highest place on the Island , I was surrounded by many elders who shaped the youth in the community. It was those teachings that guided me to run for office of Chief of the Penobscot Nation.
I cannot express the gratitude I have for the people of the Penobscot Nation for entrusting me with the responsibility to lead this great nation. I am honored to be included in the company of the men and women who have served as leaders in the community.
Our past chiefs have been both elected, like me, or were part of the traditional hereditary system, where the chief line followed a distinguished bloodline. It is these ancestors who worked hard to ensure that the Penobscot Nation remained a sovereign entity with a distinct culture and history. I have learned a lot from our past chiefs, the six still alive today and the written history of many others. Their guidance ensures that proper decisions are made for the next seven generations. In our history, there are letters from Penobscot chiefs from the late 1700s to modern day that address many of the same issues that we continue to fight today.
Today, the methods are much different but the issues and what we want for results remain the same. Economically, the Penobscot Nation is in a better place today. My predecessors had to rely on their instincts and had to constantly think about how to ensure the very survival of our people -- culturally, spiritually, and physically. Those leaders were the glue that bound this community together in our darkest days. And it is the strength of these great leaders that allows me to fight for the success of the Penobscot Nation and our people today. Their past efforts and tough decisions have given me this opportunity, and as a tribal citizen, the right to exist as a Penobscot.
I know that my time as Chief has to provide for opportunity and progress for our Nation. With gratitude to the past, and with an eye to the future, this tribal administration is able to work for future generations and to do so as Penobscots, with our customs and traditions that make us who we are intact.