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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians approved a resolution at its Aug. 1 meeting to open the tribe’s membership rolls beginning Feb. 1, 2024. Enrollment will remain open until the board passes a subsequent resolution to close them.

“There are many people who are proud of their Native heritage and ancestry who have been unable to enroll as Sault Tribe members,” said Sault Tribe Chairman Austin Lowes. “We look forward to welcoming them into our community and growing our membership.”

To be eligible for membership with the Sault Tribe, applicants must meet the criteria outlined in the tribe’s membership ordinance, Tribal Code Chapter 11, available at www.saulttribe.com/government/tribal-code.

In February 1998, the tribe's membership rolls closed to all adults. There are many reasons individuals haven’t been able to enroll in the tribe, such as adoption or unrecognized paternity. Some parents had not realized that their children needed to be enrolled, and there have been many requests from descendants of eligible individuals who never enrolled.

In 2011, the Tribal Membership Ordinance was amended to include applications for those unable to trace ancestry due to sealed child custody records, unrecognized paternity, or out-of-home placements. In 2014, the Tribal Membership Ordinance was amended to allow tribal members’ biological children under the age of 21 to apply for membership.

To apply for membership, applicants must complete the application for enrollment to be posted soon. Applicants must submit copies of documents of their direct lineal descendants, starting with the applicant, then their Native parent, grandparent, and so forth, until they reach the descendant who is listed on one of the base rolls Enrollment uses to determine membership.

An enrolled relative can sign a release form to allow the applicant access to the documentation in the relative’s file to complete the applicant’s application.

Once applicants have their all their documents and $25 processing fee ready, they can mail it to the Enrollment Department at P.O. Box 1628, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783. They can also drop it off in person at the Enrollment office, 2428 Shunk Rd. in Sault Ste. Marie. No enrollment applications will be accepted before Feb. 1, 2024. Processing will take 6-8 weeks or longer, depending on the number of applications.

Please call the Enrollment office for assistance or forms: 906-632‑8552 or 906-635‑3396, or 800‑251‑6597. For more information, see www.saulttribe.com/membership-services/tribal-enrollment

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Photo by Ken Bosma / CC BY