Published March 21, 2016
SAULT STE. MARIE, MICHIGAN – Citing numerous achievements he has made on behalf of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Aaron Payment announced his candidacy for chairperson for another term.
Payment cited securing $5.5 million in federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Indian Health Services (IHS) Contract Support Costs funds, $455,000 in BIA Inland treaty rights implementation funds, reducing over $200,000 in taxes for fee simple to trust land conversion, overseeing the acquisition of millions in competitive grant funds, and staving off the effects of sequestration.
“I have had several offers and opportunities for federal employment but I choose to commit to my Tribe to ensure a stable financial future, to expand funding to our seven service area and finally expand services to our ‘at large’ members,” explained Chairperson Payment.
Payment’s second administration is characterized as having achieved regional, inter-tribal, and national prominence by being elected by his peers to serve as the vice-president of the United Tribes of Michigan, acting president of the Mid-West Alliance of Sovereign Tribes, Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority Treaty chairperson, and as an executive officer of the National Congress of American Indians.
Payment’s efforts to represent his tribal citizens include serving as the co-chair of the Health Research Advisory Council, chair of the National Institutes of Health Tribal Consultation Advisory Council, and vice-chair of the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Council.
Most recently, he received a Presidential Appointment to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education. In 2015, Payment was selected as the National TRiO Achiever and in 2013 as the Sargent Shriver Achievement Awardee for service to others of disadvantaged backgrounds, though work with the Upward Bound Program and as Vice-Chair of the Chippewa Luce Mackinac Community Action Board of Directors. Just last week, Payment was appointed by the US Secretary of Education to serve on the National Negotiated Rule Making Committee of Twelve to write the regulations for ESSA Every Students Succeeds Act, the current re-authorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.
“I have testified in Congress a dozen times with twice as a National Officer for NCAI for all of Indian Country on the President’s Budget. I am critical but supportive of funding to Indian Country to ensure the Federal Treaty Obligations and Trust Responsibilities are honored”, Payment explained for his National level work advocating for Indian Country. He further explained, “I have worked hard to carve out a national reputation for the Sault Tribe though reputation building in place of large political contributions.”
Upon returning to office in 2012, Payment got to work to stabilize Sault Tribe Government funding, returning services to the Western End of the Tribe’s Service Area including Marquette, Munising, Manistique, and Escanaba and expanded durable medical goods to all Elders who travel to Tribal clinics.
“Still, much more is needed for those who live in the service area, northern lower Michigan, and no matter where our people live”, Payment added explaining, “Several key projects hang in the balance including our “Mandatory Trust” petition with the US Department of Interior for our downstate gaming expansion projects. Our people approved this project via referendum and I want to see it through.” Fifteen percent of the net revenues for this project are pledged via referendum for Elder, Education, and Cultural outreach to all Sault Tribe Members. Payment, explained, “we are at a delicate stage in seeing this project though to fruition. A lot is at stake but I am confident I have developed the relationships to see this project through so all Members can share in the Tribal dream.”
Payment can be reached by email at [email protected] or phone at 906-440-5937.
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