Governor Janet Mills announced today that she has nominated six people to serve on the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission. The Governor nominated John Cashwell, Robert Checkoway, James Cote, Kevin Hancock, former Senator Michael Pearson and former Senator Richard Rosen to serve on the Commission, an inter-governmental entity charged in part with reviewing the social, economic and legal relationship between Maine Tribes and the State.
“The Maine Indian-Tribal State Commission has the potential to improve and strengthen the relationship between the State and Maine Tribes,” said Governor Mills. “In nominating these qualified individuals, my Administration is taking a step forward in reinvigorating the Commission and empowering it to become a forum for substantive communication, problem solving, and dispute resolution.”
The Commission is composed of six members appointed by the State, two by the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, two by the Passamaquoddy Tribe, and two by the Penobscot Indian Nation. The thirteenth, who is the chairperson, is selected by the other twelve. The Commission has not had a full slate of members since 2013.
All state nominations to MITSC are subject to review by the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary and final confirmation by the Maine State Senate.
Governor Mills’ Nominations to the Maine Indian-Tribal State Commission:
For appointment, John Cashwell of Bangor has served as president of Black River LLC since 2008. He previously served as Director of the Maine Forest Service from 1987 to 1992 and is a United States Army veteran. Cashwell also previously served as a Councilmember and as Mayor in both Calais and Bangor.
For appointment, Robert Checkoway of Freeport, a retired attorney, formerly served as Assistant US Trustee for the US Department of Justice, responsible for the administration of all bankruptcy cases in Maine. Checkoway also formerly served as Assistant US Trustee at Preti, Flaherty and Beliveau and formerly as Associate Attorney at Skelton, Taintor & Abbott. Checkoway is a 1976 Maine School of Law graduate.
For appointment, James Cote of Farmington is a public affairs consultant with Bernstein Shur and specializes in policies relating to natural resources, energy, and economic development. Cote formerly served as president and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors of Maine and as Director of Communications and Government Relations for the Maine Forest Products Council.
For appointment, Kevin Hancock of Casco has served as CEO of Hancock Lumber since 1991 and is the founder of Seventh Power, a non-profit organization that works to support Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Hancock is the author of the award winning novel Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse and is the recipient of the Ed Muskie Access to Justice Award, Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award, and the Habitat for Humanity Spirit of Humanity Award. Hancock is a graduate of Bowdoin College.
For appointment, the Honorable Michael Pearson of Enfield, a retired school teacher, formerly served as Old Town City Councilmember and as state representative and state senator, including as chair of the Appropriations Committee, representing the people of Old Town and Indian Island for more than twenty years.
For appointment, the Honorable Richard Rosen of Bucksport served as the Commissioner of the Department of Administration and Financial Services from 2014-2017 and for fourteen years as state representative and state senator. During his time in the Legislature, Rosen served as Senate Chair and Ranking House Member of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and as Assistant Senate Republican Leader. Rosen is also the former owner and operator of Rosen’s, a clothing and footwear retailer in Bucksport.