payments provide

It is a massive influence in Indian Country, and not in a good way

American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) meeting April 14-16 in Portland, Oregon.

“Do per-capita payments provide needed support and help build a local economy or do they undermine culture and tradition by servicing individuals over the community and providing cash payments in lieu of jobs?” the conference agenda states.

“With the benefit a few decades of experience and hindsight, our panelists will explore the often-contentious issue of distributing revenue to members/citizens.

” NAFOA Executive Director Dante Desiderio, a Sappony citizen, said the per-capita discussion “should be brought out in the open for leadership to discuss and work together toward a balanced stewardship of a healthy and sustained government while meeting citizen interests.”

But the session will be closed to the press.

payments provide “That’s how sensitive this is,” says a tribal official who requested anonymity.

“Tribal leaders know they need to talk about it.

They’re happy NAFOA is taking it up.

 It’s an issue we need to address. But it needs to be discussed in private.” “It’s a very complicated issue,” says Rosebud Sioux Joe Valandra, managing director of VAdvisors and former NIGC chief of staff. “And it becomes very emotional.”

Per-capita Politics and Policy The emergence of tribal gambling has provided Indian communities with discretionary income, many for the first time in their history.

It also has created the need to make major government and public policy decisions. For example, should casino revenue be used for the welfare of the entire community,

payments provide building governmental infrastructure, launching business enterprises and providing health care, housing and social services? Or should the funds go to individual families who are most in need?

 About 40 percent of indigenous Americans live on economically depressed reservations where poverty is rampant and unemployment can range from 40 percent to 60 percent or higher.

“Per-capita payments help citizens meet urgent needs.

Many reservation populations are poor, and individuals and families are chronically short of cash,”

wrote the Native Nations Institute and the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development in a 2007 policy paper.

But “channeling all tribal revenues into tribal government encourages the idea that it is the government’s job to provide for all the needs of its citizens—a form of dependency,” the report goes on to say.

“Tribal citizens are shareholders in the tribal estate.

This is their money.

It should be given to them.”

payments provide Others argue that jobs, housing,

education and health care are items most aptly provided by well-funded and administered tribal government programs.

“Per-capita payments draw away resources that should be invested in such services, making it harder to provide them to citizens,” Harvard researchers say.

The per-capita inequality is glaring. Although most tribes keep their financial information a closely guarded secret, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux per-capita is believed to be approaching $1 million a year. Meanwhile,

the Blackfeet Nation in Montana sets aside a $75 per-capita payment at Christmas for its 17,000 members to buy presents without going into debt.

The roughly 16,000 members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee receive about $12,000 a year.

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, with about 11,000 members, limit per-capita in their tribal-state compact to $1,000 per year.

Disbursements To Minors Per-capita payments to minors are generally held in trust until the child reaches the age of 18.

Depending on the tribe and amount of per-capita, the person could at that age collect a sizable sum.

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