SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (WJMN) – A newly awarded multi-year contract between the U.S. Army and Sault Tribe, Inc. joint venture NationPoint LLC, will allow for the development of a combat medic virtual learning sustainment program.

Sault Tribe, Inc. is the independent business arm of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. It focuses on scalable business opportunities for subsidiaries and joint ventures.

“One of the things that being a Section 17 enabled us to do is to have the structure to apply for 8(a) status that came about in July of 2021. We partnered with a Sault Tribe member-owned business, Tipping Point Solutions. They’re out of Denver, Colorado. We created NationPoint LLC, which is a joint venture. What was necessary there is us successfully obtaining that 8(a) status enabled us to bid for Sole Source Awards for government contracts. But we didn’t have a performance history large enough to be able to be awarded a $7 million contract we like we eventually got. Tipping Point Solutions didn’t have the same statuses as we have as a tribe, but they did have history and capacity, and ability to perform at that level. They agreed to mentor us through this process with a mentor/protege relationship in place. And we formed a joint venture and we were able to secure that contract,” said Sault Tribe, Inc. Executive Officer Joel Schultz.

In 2021, STI’s subsidiary Chippewa Government Solutions (CGS), entered a joint venture partnership with Tipping Point Solutions, Inc. to pursue virtual learning and digital media production opportunities. The Army contract is NationPoint’s first and will provide the necessary business development resources to lay a foundation for long-term success.

“The story behind what we’re doing right here is a good one and it is associated with the US Army, where we got to contract with Medcoe. So in their medical division, things have changed and historically they needed to stabilize injured soldiers for several hours until someone could fly and pick them up. Fly them to an appropriate medical facility. In this day and age and the competitiveness in the world, because they don’t have that luxury, they may not be able to fly in and pick them up. So now they need to stabilize that patient for two or three days perhaps before they can get them to the appropriate medical facility. And that’s going to change the way they’re triaged in the field. And there’s already people, doctors, medics deployed, and our job is to create an online curriculum and training module to change how they triage patients and what they do to stabilize them and get them to safety,” said Schultz.

Schultz explained how STI’s success is allowing them to put business infrastructure in place.

“And infrastructure means a variety of things. We have offices in the Soo, offices in Escanaba, we have offices in Denver. Now we’re hiring and we put our retirement plans in place, we have our insurance packages in place. We have all those things that are going to be necessary to doing some significant onboarding. We expect to utilize hybrid employees across the country and do some hiring to fulfill this contract.” Schultz continued, What we’re doing is demonstrating the ability to perform and it’s going to enable Chippewa Government Solutions, a subsidiary of Sault Tribe, Inc., to have that historical performance to pursue contracts on their own. The big thing if you’re not familiar with the 8(a) and what it does for a tribe, versus a tribal member, or some other socially disadvantaged individual who could get up to a $4 million sole-source award because of the status, we can get $100 million Sole Source Awards.”

Schultz said the path to receiving 8(a) status wasn’t one they had to figure out on their own.

“So Alaska Native Corporations, you know, have figured this system out and they’re, they’re doing big work in it. We have peer tribes across the country, Cherokee Nation, others that have developed these models, and they’re in the business. The thing is, is we all can get in this business. There’s tons of work. Like right now there’s more than ever as far as a governmental level. So in Michigan, I think we were the second to get a certification and I’m sure there’s others in various stages of receiving it or have received it since. We have our second entity submitted at this point to get the status. We plan to emulate some of those models that exist already,” added Schultz.

As a tribal entity, Schultz said one thing that makes them unique is paying attention to the type of work they do, and that is consistent with their beliefs.

“Being able to make our own decisions as to how we address our challenges within our communities and be able to have our own funding do that. Versus when you apply or become dependent on federal funding sources, they dictate how you do things and how, what they think’s right and how they would like to see your community act and grow and function,” added Schultz.

Schultz said sharing details of the contract helps people to understand the size and scope of the opportunity it represents.

“I’m not to Sault Tribe board of directors, I’m not the chair. I’m not the executive director of the Sault Tribe. So I shouldn’t speak for them. But I would say I’m a tribal member. I think the community, what we desire is autonomy and revenue. And in a way no to be dependent on governmental programs, not to be dependent, quite frankly, on what’s becoming a diluted dying industry of casinos. But to be able to go pick the type of work we do, earn revenue that can support our government to be able to deliver services to our people,” said Schultz.