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The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians works as a nation within a nation to work with the local, state and federal governments to achieve its goals. Education of elected officials and government-to-government consultation play significant roles in this work. Tribal leaders invest time educating new members of Michigan House, Senate and Governor’s office on the nature of Indian tribes, treaty rights, federal trust responsibility, and other issues. Tribal liaisons and lobbyists also play their roles in obtaining and retaining funding and consultation for the tribe.


The tribe also joins with other tribes for this important work, giving them stronger voice on issues that matter most. Michigan tribes have banded together in the United Tribes of Michigan, “committed to join forces, advance, protect, preserve and enhance the mutual interests, treaty rights, sovereignty and cultural way of life of the sovereign tribes of Michigan throughout the next seven generations.” Regionally, Michigan tribes have joined with tribes from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa under the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes (MAST) — 35 tribes in all —  “to advance, protect, preserve and enhance the mutual interests, treaty rights, sovereignty and cultural way of life of the sovereign nations of the Midwest throughout the 21st century.” The organization coordinates important public policy issues and initiatives at the state, regional and federal levels, promotes unity and cooperation among member tribes and advocates for member tribes. 


Tribal Elders work together under the Michigan Indian Elders Association. The MIEA “provides a forum in which American Indian Elders may speak, learn, grow and exercise control over their environment by having representation on State and National Aging organizations, enable access to services, provide prevention training, act as an advocate for member organizations, perpetuate a positive influence on the youth of the member organizations, and promote emotional and spiritual well-being through social interaction.” The MIEA is affiliated with the National Indian Council on Aging and promotes education through incentives and scholarships. 


Tribal leaders are involved in government committees and national organizations to further this work. For example, Unit I Director Cathy Abramson serves as chairperson of the National Indian Health Board (NIHB). Unit III Director Ketih Massaway serves as an alternate for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Tribal Technical Advisory Committee (TTAC).


Through its communication venues, the Sault Tribe asks its members to become actively involved in important issues. Members may write their elected officials on legislative, environmental, education, health or political issues.


Our current elected officials across the seven-county service area are: 



Governor Rick Snyder

P.O. Box 30013, 

Lansing MI 48909

(517) 373-3400


Governor Snyder’s

Northern Michigan Office

1504 West Washington, Suite B,

Marquette, MI 49855

(906) 228-2850


Michigan Senate

Dist. 37 State Sen. Wayne Schmidt

820 Farnum Building

Lansing, MI 48909-7536

(517) 373-2413


Dist. 38 State Sen. Tom Casperson

P.O. Box 30036, 

Lansing, MI 48909-7536

(517) 373-7840


State House of Representatives

Dist. 107 Rep. Lee Chatfield

S-1486 House Office Building

P.O. Box 30014 

Lansing, MI 48909

(517) 373-2629


Dist. 108 Rep. Edward McBroom

P.O. Box 30014

Lansing, MI 48933 

(517) 373-0156


Dist. 109 Rep. John Kivela

P.O. Box 30014 

Lansing, MI 48909-7514

(517) 373-0498 or (888) 429-1377


U.S. House of Representatives

Congressman Dan Benishek

514 Cannon HOB

Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225 4735


United States Senate

Senator Gary Peters

2 Russell Courtyard

U.S. Senate

Washington, DC 20510-2202

(202) 224-6221


Senator Debbie Stabenow

133 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

(202) 224-4822


U.S. President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

(202) 456-1111

TTY/TDD: (202) 456-6213


 How to find your representative

To find your state representative, go to http://house.michigan.gov/mhrpublic/ and enter you zip code.

To find your Congressman, go to http://www.congressmerge.com/onlinedb/ and enter your zip code.


How to Write an Effective Letter

Elected officials take letters from their constituents very seriously. This is especially true when individuals have taken the time to sit down and write a letter in their own words. Elected officials pay the most attention to letters from voters in their own districts, not voters outside of their districts. To make your letters the most effective:


1. Write a letter you would like to receive. Use a factual, professional tone, don’t exaggerate and avoid name-calling or making threats.


2. Write legibly. Only use a typewriter or computer when your handwriting is difficult to read. Be sure to include your name and address.


3. Limit your letter to one page and stick to a single topic. First, state that you support or oppose a position or piece of legislation. Refer to bills and resolutions by number if possible.


4. Then, list the reasons for your support or opposition. Last, ask your representatives to write back explaining their position on the legislation.


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Photo by Ken Bosma / CC BY