Indianz.Com > COVID-19 > Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians (Michigan)
Posted: June 9, 2021
Aaron Payment

Aaron Payment serves as chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and as vice president of the National Congress of American Indians. Photo by Kevin Abourezk



June 9, 2021

Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan ~ Four months ago, tribes were asked to submit their self-certification of the number of tribal members in their respective tribes. Shortly thereafter, the US 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 employment team members, and the remaining amount based on an equal split of $1 Billion divided equally among tribes.

On June 8th, the Sault Tribe Board of Directors held a Tribal Workshop to discuss options for expending these 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 currently sits in the Sault Tribe’s coffers. The projected amount once the +$64 million employment team member portion is released is likely to exceed $275 million total.

Chairperson Payment reported, “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”. Chairperson 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 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.

Chairperson 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.

Chairperson Payment added, “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”.

Chairperson Payment concluded by inviting Sault Tribe Members to visit his Tribal Facebook page for additional tribal priorities, but emphasized, “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 15th meeting of the Sault Tribe Board of Directors”.

Join the Conversation