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Sault Ste. Marie tribe members in line to receive funds

SAULT STE. MARIE — Sault Tribe Chairman Aaron Payment has announced a proposed plan to distribute $75 million among all Sault Tribe members no matter where they live, according to a news release from the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

“I am grateful for what I interpret to be broad support from the Sault Tribe Board of Directors to approve an equitable distribution to our tribal members,” Payment said in the release.

Four months ago, tribes were asked to submit their self-certification of the number of tribal members in their respective tribes, tribal officials said in the news release. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Treasury announced the formula for distribution of over $19 billion budgeted for Indian Country relief at roughly 60% based on membership, up to 35% based on employment team members, and the remaining amount based on an equal split of $1 billion divided equally among tribes, according to the news release.

Due to this, the Sault Tribe Board of Directors on Tuesday held a tribal workshop to discuss options for expending relief dollars. The first distribution the tribe received based on all tribal members — both inside and outside of the service area — amounted to $211,605,859 and currently sits in the Sault Tribe’s coffers. The projected amount, once the additional $64 million employment team member portion is released, is likely to exceed $275 million total, officials said in the release.

Payment’s proposal would appropriate another $1,000 allocation to all service area members and a $2,000 amount for members who live outside of the service area to bring all members to an equal amount of $2,000 each, the release states. The total commitment for a member distribution would leave nearly $200 million for meeting tribal needs as identified by tribal executives, inclusive of tribal board member priorities and based on planned official tribal member input session and possibly a nationwide tribal survey, according to officials.

Payment also announced his proposal to grant a tribal employment team member relief check in the amount of $1,000 each and to extend the Kewadin Team Member Recruitment and Retention Initiative to the remaining Sault Tribe Governmental, Housing, Enterprise and Joseph K. Lumsden School team members.

“The full amount of $275 million was based on all tribal members and tribal employment team members, so it only makes sense we extend a level to relief support to show our care and concern,” Payment said in the release.

Payment invites Sault tribe members to visit his tribal Facebook page for additional tribal priorities, emphasizing: “If we support a distribution to our tribal members and team members, the very first action should be to approve the distribution at the June 15 meeting of the Sault Tribe Board of Directors.”

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