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The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians works as a nation within a nation to work with the local, state and federal governments to achieve its goals. Education of elected officials and government-to-government consultation play significant roles in this work. Tribal leaders invest time educating new members of Michigan House, Senate and Governor’s office on the nature of Indian tribes, treaty rights, federal trust responsibility and other issues. Tribal liaisons and lobbyists also play their roles in obtaining and retaining funding and consultation for the tribe.

The tribe also joins with other tribes for this important work, giving them stronger voice on issues that matter most. Michigan tribes have banded together in the United Tribes of Michigan, “committed to join forces, advance, protect, preserve and enhance the mutual interests, treaty rights, sovereignty and cultural way of life of the sovereign tribes of Michigan throughout the next seven generations.” Regionally, Michigan tribes have joined with tribes from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa under the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes (MAST)—35 tribes in all—  “to advance, protect, preserve and enhance the mutual interests, treaty rights, sovereignty and cultural way of life of the sovereign nations of the Midwest throughout the 21st century.” The organization coordinates important public policy issues and initiatives at the state, regional and federal levels, promotes unity and cooperation among member tribes and advocates for member tribes. Tribes work together at the national level via the National Congress of American Indians. A non-profit organization, NCAI “advocates for a bright future for generations to come by taking the lead to gain consensus on a constructive and promising vision for Indian Country.” The organization’s policy issues and initiatives are driven by the consensus of its diverse membership, which consists of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments, tribal citizens, individuals, and Native and non-Native organizations.

Tribal Elders work together under the Michigan Indian Elders Association. The MIEA “provides a forum in which American Indian Elders may speak, learn, grow and exercise control over their environment by having representation on State and National Aging organizations, enable access to services, provide prevention training, act as an advocate for member organizations, perpetuate a positive influence on the youth of the member organizations, and promote emotional and spiritual well-being through social interaction.” The MIEA is affiliated with the National Indian Council on Aging and promotes education through incentives and scholarships.

Tribal leaders are involved in government committees and national organizations to further this work. Chairperson Aaron Payment is the Health and Human Services Health Research Advisory Council co-chair; and a member of the HHS Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Council, the National Institutes of Health Tribal Advisory Committee and the Tribal Interior Budget Committee. Unit III Representative Keith Massaway is a member of the Tribal Technical Advisory Committee to HHS/SAMHSA. Unit II Representative Lana Causley is a member of the Indian Health Service Director’s National Tribal Advisory Committee for Behavioral Health. Unit I Representative Jennifer McLeod is the tribal chairperson of the Tribal Leaders Working Group Food Distribution on Indian Reservations Program/ USDA and the Community Health Aide Program Tribal Advisory Group; and a member of the Department of Justice Intertribal Working Group VAWA and Bureau of Indian Education Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. Unit I Representative Michael McKerchie is a member of the HHS/ACF Tribal Advisory Committee.

Through its communication venues, the Sault Tribe asks its members to become actively involved in important issues. Members may write their elected officials on legislative, environmental, education, health or political issues.
Our current elected officials across the seven-county service area are:

Governor

Governor Gretchen Whitmer
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909
Phone: 517‑373‑3400, 517‑335‑7858 (Constituent Services)
Website: www.michigan.gov/whitmer (go here for social media links)

Michigan Senate
Dist. 37 State Sen. Wayne Schmidt
PO Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536
Phone: 517‑373‑2413
Fax: 517‑373‑5144
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dist. 38 State Sen. Ed McBroom
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: 866‑305‑2038

State House of Representatives

Dist. 107 Rep. Lee Chatfield
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909
Phone: 517‑373‑2629
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dist. 108 Rep. Beau LaFave
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909
Phone: 517‑373‑0156
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dist. 109 Rep. Sara Cambensy
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909-7514
Phone: 517‑373‑0498
Toll-Free: 888‑429‑1377
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

U.S. House of Representatives

Congressman Jack Bergman
414 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
202‑225‑4735

United States Senate

Senator Gary Peters
2 Russell Courtyard
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510-2202
202‑224‑6221

Senator Debbie Stabenow
133 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-4822

U.S. President Donald Trump

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Comments: 202‑456‑1111
Switchboard: 202‑456‑1414
TTY/TTD
Comments: 202‑456‑6213
Visitor's Office: 202‑456‑2121

How to Find Your State Representative

To find your state representative, go to http://house.michigan.gov/home.asp and enter you zip code.

To find your Congressional Representative, go to https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative and enter your zip code.

How to Write an Effective Letter

Elected officials take letters from their constituents very seriously. This is especially true when individuals have taken the time to sit down and write a letter in their own words. Elected officials pay the most attention to letters from voters in their own districts, not voters outside of their districts. To make your letters the most effective:
 
1. Write a letter you would like to receive. Use a factual, professional tone, don’t exaggerate and avoid name-calling or making threats.

2. Write legibly. Only use a typewriter or computer when your handwriting is difficult to read. Be sure to include your name and address.

3. Limit your letter to one page and stick to a single topic. First, state that you support or oppose a position or piece of legislation. Refer to bills and resolutions by number if possible.

4. List the reasons for your support or opposition.

5. Last, ask your representatives to write back explaining their position on the legislation.

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Photo by Ken Bosma / CC BY