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Hosted by President Barack Obama

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — Darwin “Joe” McCoy, Chairman of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, has been invited to the White House to participate in the Tribal Nations Conference on November 5.

Representatives from each the country's 564 federally recognized tribes were invited to participate in the conference, hosted by President Barack Obama, to discuss Indian Country concerns.

During his trip, Chairman McCoy will attend multiple meetings with members of Congress to discuss many issues important to Sault Tribe members, including:

• The Tribe’s contract health budget shortfall for 2010.
• Transportation issues including the failure of the state to provide the revenues to capture additional federal funding that is critically needed to repair aging roads in the eastern Upper Peninsula.
• Housing assistance through NHASDA – Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act. Due to rising costs of construction and inflation, tribes are not receiving adequate funds to meet housing needs.
• The Indian Community Development Block Grant, which has seen a decrease in funding limiting the Tribe’s ability to build viable communities.
• Lack of funding for Sault Tribe Law Enforcement. Lack of base funding for conservation enforcement programs is limiting protection for tribal members exercising their treaty rights.
• Recovery Act funding cuts. Without a portion of these funds, the Tribe has no means to house adult prisoners, requiring us to rely on outside agencies.
• Inadequate funding for the Inland Fish & Wildlife Department. Since signing the Inland Consent Decree (ICD) in 2007, no funds have been allocated to support its implementation. Tribes have been forced to pull from other revenue sources to cover ICD requirements.

With 38,000 members, the Sault Tribe is the largest federally recognized Indian tribe east of the Mississippi. The Tribe is also one of the largest private employers in northern Michigan with 1,781 employees.

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Photo by Ken Bosma / CC BY