SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — As Sault Ste. Marie readies to have the Interstate 75 business spur that runs through the city redone, city leaders appreciate that part of the construction costs will be paid for with contributions from the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. In fact, the city has saved up $500,000 from the tribe’s contributions over the past five years to pay most of the city’s share of the work.
The money is part of the twice-annual payments the Sault Tribe has distributed since 1993 to U.P. communities and organizations, including the City of Sault Ste. Marie. The disbursements are based on 2-percent slot revenues from Tribe’s Kewadin Casino properties in Sault Ste. Marie, St. Ignace, Hessel, Manistique and Christmas.
The tribe disbursed close to $900,000 in its latest disbursement, with 21 percent going to the City of Sault Ste. Marie. The tribe’s $191,271 donation — coupled with a slightly smaller disbursement to the city each spring that last year brought the total to $340,000 — is used by the city for street projects and sidewalk repairs. The money has been used in the past to reconstruct Shunk Road and Ashmun Street — a major downtown thoroughfare — and to improve gravel roads, according to City Manager Oliver Turner.
Sault Ste. Marie isn’t the only city, township or county in the Upper Peninsula benefitting from the twice-annual payments. Others that received disbursements for government services include:
- Chippewa County, $16,000
- City of Munising, $16,000
- St. Ignace Township, $13,000
- Clark Township, $5,000
- Manistique Township, $5,000
- Autrain Township, $3,500
- Munising Township, $3,500
In addition, the Sault Tribe gave $10,500 to the Mackinac County Circuit Court Child Care Fund; $9,000 to the City of Munising recreation program; $6,500 to the City of St. Ignace for road improvements; $6,000 to Garfield Township for a surveillance and security project; $4,500 to the Chippewa County Probate Court for foster care; and $3,000 to the County of Marquette for its animal shelter.
As one of the largest beneficiaries of the twice-annual payments, the City of Sault Ste. Marie works in partnership with the tribe to make getting around the city safer and more efficient.
“We feel that our relationship with the Sault tribe is excellent,” said Turner, the city manager. “The funds from the tribe have been of significant importance to our infrastructure program. They definitely go a long way.”
Chippewa County Administrator Jim German also praised the tribe’s financial contributions.
“We’re grateful the State of Michigan and Sault Tribe reached a compact in 1993 that helps support county services with the tribe’s twice-annual 2-percent payments,” German said. “Those contributions play an integral role in the services we’re able to offer each year.”
Since the Sault Tribe began its disbursements in 1993, nearly $42.5 million has been awarded throughout the U.P. based on the 2-percent revenue payments.