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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. —The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Board of Directors approved a direct services program July 6 to help tribal members. It will be funded with $3.5 million in Covid-19 CARES Act monies.

Tribal Chairperson Aaron Payment said, on behalf of the Board of Directors, “We have worked hard with other tribes and national organizations to secure $8 billion in the CARES Act to benefit tribes impacted by COVID19. Our Administration and Board are working hard to fashion tribal benefits in accordance with federal statues and guidelines. Unfortunately, tribes are held to a higher standard than state governments, so determining a spending plan is complex. We are clear, however, that federal guideline DO NOT permit a per capita type distribution."

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians COVID-19 Direct Tribal Member Assistance Program will provide emergency financial assistance to Sault Tribe members through the tribe’s Anishnaabek Community and Family Services. The program will provide $3.5 million of financial assistance to help Sault Tribe members meet necessary expenses incurred as a result of COVID-19.

In accordance with US Department of Treasury guidance, financial assistance disbursed to tribal members is only to be used for expenses such as medical, housing, personal property, food, transportation, funeral and similar direct member needs incurred as a direct result of COVID-19. Every adult enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe age 18 and over residing in the seven-county service area who has encountered COVID-19 financial hardships is eligible to submit the Direct Member Assistance Program Application. Only one grant will be awarded to each tribal member family household. Applicants may be required to submit documentation to evidence a COVID-19 related financial hardship.

"Our collective goal to provide relief from the pandemic in accordance with our tribal strategic plan," Payment said. "While our allocation was significant, our service area population for which the funds were based is large. Our priority is to meet the needs of our neediest and most impacted first."

Tribal members interested in applying can do so now by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling:
The ACFS toll free number, 800‑726‑0093;
Viola Neadow, Manistique ACFS, 906‑341‑6993;
Heidi Nesberg, Munising ACFS, 906‑387‑3906;
Angie Gillmore, St. Ignace ACFS, 906‑643‑8689;
Megan Miller, Sault Ste. Marie ACFS, 906‑632‑5250;
Maggie Gaus, Sault Ste. Marie ACFS, 906‑632‑5250

Sault Tribe Board of Directors installation of officers (swearing in) and officer elections will occur at 6 p.m. tonight, July 7, at the Grand Ball Room in the Sault Kewadin Casino.

The event will be livestreamed at https://www.facebook.com/SaultBOD.

In order to observe social distancing at a time while Chippewa County COVID-19 cases have increased from two to 12 in just over a week, this event will be open only to immediately family members of those who were just elected.

Family members must wear a mask when entering the building. Please enter at the main entrance on the Shunk Road (East) side of the building where your temperature will be checked. If you have an elevated temperature, you will not be permitted to enter the building.

We apologize for any inconvenience for those who otherwise wished to attend but the lives of our citizens are too important to put at risk. We appreciate your understanding.

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. —A special meeting of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Board of Directors will be held at the held at the Kewadin Casino, in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., July 6 beginning at 12 p.m. Please remember, due to the tribal State of Emergency, board of directors meetings remain closed.

Resolutions on the agenda are budget modifications Health Sault Housekeeping Maintenance, Alcohol and Substance Abuse Grant, Special Diabetes Third Party, ACFS-General Assistance, Health-IHS Maintenance and Improvements, Health-IHS Third Party Revenue, Health-IHS COVID Testing, Health-IHS COVID Funds, Health-IHS Medical Equipment, Federal Cares Act-Direct Services, Federal Cares Act-Governmental Programs, Federal Cares Act-Tribally Owned Businesses, Sault Walk in Clinic, and Strategic Plan – COVID 19.

Under New Business, Research Paper and Board Concerns will be discussed.


SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. —Sault Tribe member Allen M. Kerridge has been named Kewadin Casinos CEO by the Sault Tribe’s Board of Directors and Gaming Authority. Kerridge has been serving as interim CEO since May 2019. The change is effective immediately.

"The Gaming Authority and Sault Tribe Board of Directors are excited about entering a new era and approach to capitalizing on our greatest asset—our Kewadin team members," Tribal Chairperson Aaron Payment said on behalf of the board. "A plan for reigniting our quality control advisory and for soliciting from individual team members how we can improve will be announced in the weeks to come."

Payment added, “We are all in this together and value the input of each and every team member.”

Kerridge, an accomplished casino executive, has 20 years experience in casino management, gaming, marketing and human resources, starting out at Sault Tribe Kewadin Casinos and coming full circle to manage the entire operation. He has served as general manager of both Sault Ste. Marie and Manistique casinos, and has experience in directing slots and table games in large commercial gaming environments.

Soon after his return home, Kerridge joined the Sault CVB as a board member to help promote community events and drive tourism to the area. He supports many community charitable events. “I have tried to involve myself more in the community to encourage a positive relationship with our operations and our local communities,” he said.

When he isn’t working, the new CEO spends time with family, fishing and taking in the scenery.

“I would like to thank all Kewadin team members for their hard work and great attitude in these uncertain times,” Kerridge said. “I’m excited to move forward.”

2020 election results

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. —The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians conducted its 2020 board of directors general election yesterday evening. The chairperson and directors for units I, II and III were in the running. In Unit IV, incumbent Darcy Morrow ran unopposed.

According to the unofficial results, all incumbents were returned to office.

Chairperson Aaron Payment defeated opponent Jennifer McLeod 3,892 to 2,877.

“I am humbled to have such strong support from the Sault Tribe members,” Payment said. “I absolutely love working for my people and appreciate the opportunity to continue.”

The Unit I vacancy left by McLeod’s run for chair was filled by candidate Austin Lowe with 1,802 votes. Unit I Incumbent Betty Freiheit was returned to office with 1,956 votes, along with Michael McKerchie with 1,437 votes. Other Unit I candidates were Bernard “Bud” Biron (1,083), DJ Malloy (1,056) and Isaac McKechnie (1,101).

In Unit II, incumbent Lana Causley defeated Kimberly Lee 582 to 322.

In Unit III, incumbent Bridget Sorenson defeated Jim Everson 872 to 557.

The deadline for contests relating to the vote count is June 29, after which the results will be certified and the new directors seated.

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Appellate court judge

    The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., is seeking a licensed attorney for the position of Judge on their appellate court in its Tribal Court System. Judges at the appellate court level hear appeals primarily focused on a variety of civil matters and criminal matters. The successful candidate will be one of five appellate judges. Additional candidates may be appointed as reserve judges.

    Pursuant to Tribal Code Chapter 82.134(2)(d), the successful candidate(s) will be based on:

  1. Integrity and moral courage
  2. Legal ability and experience
  3. Intelligence and wisdom
  4. Culturally oriented
  5. Deliberate and fair minded in reaching decisions
  6. Industrious and prompt in performing his or her duties as a judge
  7. Personal habits and outside activities compatible with judicial office
  8. Courteous and considerate on the bench

    Applicants shall have the highest moral and ethical character; be licensed to practice law in state of the United States; have experience as a practicing attorney and/or judge in Tribal Courts; and significant experience and knowledge of federal Indian law and tribal law. The successful candidate will also demonstrate the ability to analyze difficult and complex facts and issues, and have knowledge of the appellate standard of review over lower court and administrative decisions. Prior appellate litigation or judicial experience is preferred.

    This position is a contract position. Native American preference will be given.

    Application deadline is July 10, 2020.

    Applications can be found at www.saulttribe.com, under government/tribal court tab, downloads section, or by contacting the court below.

    Qualified candidates should send a letter of interest, resume and completed application to:

Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa Tribal Court, Attn: Traci Swan, 2175 Shunk Road, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783; (906) 635-7747; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. —On June 23, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Board of Directors approved a resolution “In Defense of Treaty Ceded Lands” calling for the federal government, State Attorney General, and local prosecutors to seek the maximum penalties against Kurt Johnson Duncan and Linda Duncan for their “reprehensible crimes against mother nature, exploitation of wildlife and illegal harvest of protected and endangered species.”

The resolution also immediately and permanently bars the Duncans from all Sault Tribe lands.

“The Anishinaabe are hunters but we only hunt for sustenance or ceremony,” Sault Tribe Chairperson Aaron Payment said. “The wanton disregard for wildlife and protected species is unethical and savage. It is our hope that the evidence leads to a serious outcome and consequence.”

Duncan, 56, of Pickford, Mich., was arraigned May 20 in Chippewa County’s 91st District Court on 125 wildlife misdemeanor charges, following a months-long investigation by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division. Duncan faces charges including illegally harvesting 18 wolves over the past 18 months. According to a DNR press release, other species involved in the charges include deer, turkey, bear and bobcat. DNR law enforcement detectives said that Duncan was using the animals for a variety of reasons, including crafts, selling, or disposing of them, and stated that he was catching the animals because he could and “likes to do it.”

Duncan also killed three bald eagles, according to the release.

The Treaty of 1836 reserves the right of northern Michigan tribes to hunt, fish and gather throughout the 13.9 million acre treaty ceded territory and large portions of Lakes Michigan, Superior and Huron. The 2007 Consent Decree between Sault Tribe and the state of Michigan agrees that the tribe has inland hunting, fishing and gathering right. These rights are essential to the tribe and its members from a political, social, economic, cultural and subsistence perspective.

Sault Tribe has a duty to ensure the protection of its natural resources and Treaty rights defending them against all threats. The illegal actions committed by of Kurt Johnson Duncan and Linda Duncan are a direct threat to the natural ecosystem of the 1836 Treaty Lands and a direct threat to tribal rights preserved by treaty, court judgments, the consent decree and the tribe.

According to the DNR release,  Johnson could face up to 90 days and a $1,000 fine for each wolf, restitution of up to $500 per wolf and up to 90 days in jail and $500 each for all the other wildlife crimes. But according to Michigan law, Johnson will serve no more than 90 days in jail even if convicted on all counts by serving the time concurrently. According to the DNR release, Duncan was charged with “killing and disposing” of the three bald eagles. But those charges haven’t been brought in court. And, although federal laws are much more severe, Johnson has not been charged in federal court.

The Duncans illegally harvested wolves, bears, deer and other species while killing several bald eagles in violation of local, state, and federal laws. Sault Tribe seeks to ensure that these individuals are prosecuted to the greatest extent of the law.

Sault Tribe encourages other Michigan tribes to join Sault Tribe in this request.

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. —Today, on behalf of Sault Tribe and its board of directors, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Tribal Chairperson Aaron Payment repeated the tribe’s longstanding calls to shut down Line 5.

“Enbridge shut off the oil flow in the line at the Straits Saturday in response to its discovery of damage to an anchor support,” Payment said. “This damage follows on the heels of last month’s discovery of damage to the pipeline coating. It’s past time this old line was shut off for good.”

The twin pipes at the straits, installed in 1953, were designed to rest on the bottom of the lakebed at the straits crossing. Terms of the bottomlands easement with the state of Michigan require that any unsupported spans be less than 75 feet in length. Under scrutiny in recent years, it has come to light that many unsupported spans exceeding that length have existed throughout the pipe’s history, and it is possible that the pipe never met the easement terms.

“Enbridge keeps installing these screw anchors, 20 or 40 at a time, which are a complete redesign of the pipeline system without any overall examination and public approval of this new design,” Payment said. “The Sault Tribe has strongly objected to this short cut of regulations and now we see the fault in it. No one had a chance to examine expert evidence predicting how these anchors could fail.”

Sault Tribe has called on any government to permanently stop the flow of oil in these lines since February 2015. For more than 5 years the tribe has asked the state of Michigan to end this threat to the treaty fishery in these waters. Governor Whitmer said Enbridge must proceed with caution. Payment said, “That is not good enough. Enbridge must stop threatening our treaty fishery, our livelihoods, Pure Michigan and our state’s tourism economy. Enbridge must stop pumping oil through the Straits.”

The chairperson added, “Governor Whitmer, you carry an immense burden to protect this priceless treasure. The tribes are asking yet again. Do not wait until it is too late. Shut down Line 5.”

The Jim Ailing Memorial Scramble will be held Aug. 15 at Tanglewood Marsh Golf Course in Sault Ste. Marie. Jim was an avid golfer who enjoyed the game. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2011 and lost his battle on July 16, 2013. Jim was always willing and wanted to help others. He wants to continue to help others by contributing to the charities that helped him and his family throughout their difficult time. There will be prizes for first, second and third place, raffles, door prizes and a 50/50.

Profits split between Hospice of the EUP and Road to Recovery.

Contact Sheri Ailing at (906)203-5597 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Accepting donations for raffles, prizes and door prizes. Sponsor a hole! $50 gets your name, message on a sign next to the hole for everyone to see. Don’t golf? Join us about 3 p.m. for dinner; $15 per person.

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. —A special meeting of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Board of Directors will be held at the held at the Kewadin Casino, in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., June 23, beginning at 1 p.m. Please remember, due to the tribal State of Emergency, board of directors meetings remain closed.

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Photo by Ken Bosma / CC BY