INDIAN ISLAND(AP) – Former tribal governor James Sappier will become the Penobscot Indian Nation’s new chief as of Oct. 1.

Members of the tribe elected Sappier, choosing not to re-elect Chief Barry Dana to a third, two-year term. Vice Chief Mike Bear was re-elected to his post during Saturday’s biennial election.

Sappier, a former tribal governor who has been involved with American Indian affairs since 1969, has been working for nine years in Boston as the Indian program manager for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sappier, who returned home to Indian Island on weekends while working in Boston, said after his election he’s ready and eager to work for the tribe.

Sappier said his first big project will be to learn what skills tribal members already have and use them as the foundation for economic development projects.

“The Penobscots are capable of doing more than two or three things at once,” Sappier said. “I really have extraordinary faith in our tribal members.”

Sappier won by a 276-245 tally. Dana, who led an unsuccessful effort to win support from state voters to allow a tribal casino to be built, said he was disappointed with the result, adding that he’s hopeful programs he worked to create during his time in office will continue.

In addition to a new chief, the Penobscots elected five new tribal council members: Kirk Francis, Phillip Attean, Yvonne “Cookie” Francis, Martin Neptune and Chris “Charlie Brown” Francis.

Maine Gov. John Baldacci believes Dana has been “an eloquent spokesman for the tribe,” according to Lee Umphrey, spokesman for Baldacci.

The governor looks forward to working closely with Sappier in the future as the new chief works to continue programs conceived by Dana, while beginning some new projects of his own, Umphrey said.

AP-ES-09-14-04 0807EDT

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