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Michigan tribe to vote on Lansing casino

20 March 2012

SAUKT STE. MARIE, Michigan -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- Sault Tribe’s registered voters will soon find in their mailboxes a referendum election ballot to either approve, or disapprove, the tribe’s proposed Lansing casino.

Ballots will be mailed to all registered tribal voters on April 12. Tribal voters must complete their ballot and return it by May 3, 2012, when the vote count will take place. The election will cost roughly $30,000.

The election was called for by a referendum petition signed by 106 tribal members. The referendum petition regarding Resolution 2012-11: Approval of Comprehensive Development Agreement with the City of Lansing, Michigan; Authorization to purchase land in Lansing, Michigan using income from the Land Settlement Trust Settlement Trust Fund; Approval of Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Lansing, was accepted by the board March 13, 2012. The resolution puts in action steps for the tribe to pursue a casino in the City of Lansing.

The ballot asks tribal members to choose whether to approve or not approve board of director’s resolution.

The ballot language is as follows:

EXPLANATION: On January 24, 2012 The Board of Directors approved Resolution 2012-11 which allows the Tribe to try to open a casino in the City of Lansing. The Resolution authorizes and directs as follows:

· The Tribe may purchase property in the City of Lansing and the Tribe would try to open a tribal casino on the property;
· The City of Lansing will receive “limited revenue sharing payments” in exchange for its support and for providing police, fire and utility services;
· The Tribe will allow the City of Lansing to enforce the above in Federal court’
· Money from the Self Sufficiency Fund will be used to purchase the property;
· The amount of money available to fund the next annual elder distributions will not decrease;
· And 15% of the Tribe’s profit will be set aside for the various elder programs and for a college scholarship program.

If you believe the project should move forward VOTE TO APPROVE. If you believe the project should not move forward, VOTE TO DISAPPROVE.

Sault Tribe Chairman Joe Eitrem stressed the importance of this vote. “This is an extremely significant vote,” Eitrem said. “This could be the source of funds we so desperately need to fully fund and restore membership programs that we have had to cut, to replenish the Self Sufficiency Fund, to pay down our debt, and to bring more services to members.”

Eitrem said he believes tribal members will understand the opportunity that this project presents and will strongly support it. “Members need to be sure they understand the facts about this project,” he said. “They need to understand the Lansing project is not, in any way, like Greektown Casino. We are not interested in, and would strongly oppose, another Greektown Casino. The Lansing project is totally different. And if members have questions, I encourage them to contact me or any board member. You can also find accurate information about the project and the referendum on the website ( There is a lot of incorrect information out there, and people need to know the facts.”

Eitrem said in the next month, he and other board members will be holding additional meetings for tribal members in the U.P. and in the Detroit area. Members who have additional questions and want more information about the project will be encouraged to attend the meetings.

To date, Eitrem and the Tribe have held 23 informational meetings about the project with members across the U.P. and lower peninsula. Nearly 68 percent of the tribal members who have attended the 23 informational meetings filled out surveys saying they support the project after learning the facts about it.

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