Tribal Council Reopens Economy


The tribal government has given approval to the CEO Board to resume operations for the tribal and local rural economies of Bark-River, Wilson, Gourley and Escanaba townships in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The 12-person tribal council, the governing body of the tribal community, has given the Community Economic Oversight Board authority to reopen gaming and government operations. These will include implementing health standards in the wake of the recent health concerns the world is experiencing. This allows more full-time employees to return to work.

A trucker visiting the tribes gas station during Michigan’s lock-down.

The tribal economy has a mission to improve the lives of over 900 tribal members located on land held in trust by the U.S. Congress. During the lock-down about 200 full-time salaried tribal, federal, and state government employees and primary managers of gaming operations were paid full wages. These are the top authority and the highest compensated people in the tribal economy. The tribal members deserve to have a report on the amount of payroll, insurance benefits, and board stipends paid to these governing officials.

A low estimate of the tribal government and management wage expense paid by the community funds could be made assuming the 200 “essential employees” were paid an average of 45,000 yearly. The hourly cost would be 21.63 per person.

If 200 people collected weekly checks, the tribe paid out full time wages of over $1,038,000 or more since mid-March. What percentage of those essential jobs were actually benefiting tribal members during this crisis? Is there a plan to recoup the lost production time for many of these jobs other than more regulation? If the tribal member was investing 4,300 an hour for 200 employees, what did we gain? A bigger building and more expense is what we will gain. What percentage of tribal members were essential during this time of crisis?

The tribal government should answer questions as it moves forward with its goal and mission of improving the lives of tribal members and their families who are currently living on poverty level wages even though tribal members “own” a casino.

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