Tribal members get the facts at community meetings; 68% of those surveyed support project

Sixty eight percent of those attending informational meetings on the proposed Lansing casino project held across the state in the past five weeks said they support the proposal, according to surveys filled out by Sault Tribe members, employees and some community members who were at the meetings.

The Tribe held 19 informational meetings across the state between Jan. 31 and Feb. 29 for members to learn more about the proposed Lansing casino. 

Sault Tribe Chairman Joe Eitrem, who attended all of the meetings, said Tribal members asked many “good and tough questions” about the project. Meetings were held in Sault Ste. Marie, Munising, Marquette, Kinross, Midland, Lansing, SugarIsland, Brimley, St. Ignace, Dearborn, Escanaba, Newberry, Cheboygan,Grand Rapids, and Hessel.  One more meeting is scheduled for Mar. 8 in Naubinway.

“We are grateful to all members who took the time to attend the informational meetings,” Chairman Eitrem said. “Based on the surveys the members who attended filled out a questionnaire, most members said they support the project, some are opposed. We received many good and tough questions from many members, who are right to be concerned and even skeptical about this type of project.”

Eitrem said the meetings were held to make sure tribal members understand that “the Lansing casino is not another Greektown Casino, and that the Tribe assumes no financial risks for the project unless and until it is approved by the federal government.”

“There is really no comparison between the Lansing casino project and what the Tribe went through in Greektown,” Eitrem said. “We have no financial risks in Lansing until the land is taken into trust, while in Greektown we assumed all of the financial risks before, during and after. If we succeed, the Tribe will be 100 percent owners and managers. The casino will be regulated by the Kewadin Casino Gaming Authority and National Indian Gaming commission, not the state of Michigan. We will pay 2.5 percent to the City of Lansing, versus paying nearly 30 percent in taxes and fees to the state, city of Detroit, and Gaming Control Board. Most tribal members who thought Lansing might be another Greektown came away from the meetings understanding Lansing could not be more different, I believe.”

If the plan moves forward, 10 percent of the annual income the Tribe receives from the project will go directly into the Tribe’s Self Sufficiency Fund. This fund supports programs and services that benefit elders and provides resources to explore future economic development opportunities.

Another 3 percent of the annual revenues will be distributed among and deposited in the following funds: the Elder Health Self-Sufficiency Fund, the Elder Employment Self-Sufficiency Fund, the Funeral Assistance Self-Sufficiency fund, and the Education Assistance Self-Sufficiency Fund.

Another 2 percent of the annual income to the Tribe from this project will be deposited into a fund to establish a college scholarship program for tribal members regardless of blood quantum, similar to what the City of Lansingis doing with its 2 percent.

“Many people asked questions about what we are going to do with the money we receive from this casino,” said Eitrem. “We have earmarked, by resolution, where 15 percent of the annual income from Lansingwill go. The rest of the annual income we receive will be used to reinstate membership services that we have had to cut over the years due to budget constraints.”      Eitrem noted that the board also hopes to create new membership services, to bring parity in wages to employees in the seven-county service area, pay off debt and allow for upgrades and renovations at the five northern Kewadin Casinos with income from this project.

While not a scientific sample of the opinions of tribal members, the surveys filled out by members who attended the information meetings indicate a good understanding of the project, Eitrem said. An average of 14 people attended each meeting, 279 total for all meetings. Over 65 percent of those attending support the project.

“After what we went through in Greektown, I and all of the board members were absolutely against getting into another Greektown,” Eitrem said. “Lansingis not another Greektown, and I believe most of the members who attended the informational meetings now understand that, too.”

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Tribal members get the facts at community meetings; 68% of those surveyed support project

  1. Nancy Hatch

    The article is rather misleading in that it attempts to portray tribal member support but does not provide some key information necessary to document such. Exactly how many tribal members attended the meetings Statewide ? I understand that most meetings have very few attendees. Why isn’t this information in the article ? How many surveys were completed ? And of those completed how many were used to arrive at the totals indicated in this article ? Based on total tribal membership what percentage does the completed surveys represent ?
    I thought that this site was supposed to bring factual information to the members but based on this article it does appear this is just a PR mechanism. Who is maintaining this site and writing the articles ? Is it tribal staff or are you contracting out this service and if so, at what cost ?

    • Hello Nancy,

      I will address each of your questions.

      As stated in the article – we had 279 people fill out surveys between all the meetings. Some meetins had many people, some had few. On average, there were 14 people attending each meeting. All of those were used to tally the totals.

      the Tribe has a total of about 39,000 members.

      Tribal staff are updating this site with assistance from all parties involved in the project.

      Thank you.

  2. Steven Causley

    Who own’s this Site and who’s the answer’s the Commet’s, who want’s to know! Tribal Member’s wanna know to me this is an anoymouse Site there-Fore is doesn’t hold credibility if ran under secrecy, So come out of the Closet Please.

  3. Steven Causley

    Sorry let the people see who own’s this site and who makes the Final Decision’s to let each POST- Copy2

  4. Nancy Hatch

    Thank you for your response. So in actuality less than 1% of the members completed surveys. My question remains as to who is writing articles for this site and the other PR for the Lansing project. Are they written by FULL TIME tribal staff or are contracted individuals and other non full time tribal staff writing them. Thank you.

    • Hi Nancy,

      Some articles are written by full time staff employed by the Sault Tribe, some are written by contracted individuals, some are written by outside sources (such as the reports on gaming). Thank you.

  5. Is Sault Tribe Members going to be first in lne for these jobs? I am a member and just lost my job in Lansing after 16 years.

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