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Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Conflict Affecting Casino Interests

On May 30th, 2008, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians is struggling not only with the money needed to construct the Greektown Casino facility but with internal conflict and budget deficit that is predicted to reach half of the tribe's budget.

That budget deficit is forcing officials to do some unpopular cuts and there are a lot of internal conflicts that are happening over these issues. The position of tribal head is currently one of the issues that are hounding the tribe and the June 25th, 2008 election will decide on who will be the chairman of the tribe.

The tribe is also currently involved in a lawsuit against its former head, Bernard Bouschor, over $2.6 million in severance funds that he paid himself and other tribe employees when he lost the tribal chairman re-election almost four years ago. Bouschor is one of the candidates that are running for the tribal board, irking many who commented that he should not be given the chance to run to begin with. The tribal police head is suspended for the second time over charges of sexual misconduct. The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the FBI are also investigating the possible misuse of tribal finances.

Tony Grondin, a member of the tribe and a former head of the Better Government group, which fought past corrupt practices in the tribe, said that they do not always make good decisions. The Sault Ste. Marie Chippewas, the biggest U.S. tribe located in the east of the Mississippi, made history by being the 1st tribe in the U.S. to manage a commercial off-reservation casino. The tribe is hoping that the casino would produce million of dollars for the tribe's coffers.

A recent report stated that the tribe expects to earn $18 million from its 5 northern casino facilities and other business interests this year, but will spend $33 million, leaving a $15 million shortfall.

The tribe is also hoping to get $5 million from the Greektown Casino to this year's financial budget but bankers have compelled the tribe to reinvest the profits of the casino into the building of the permanent casino facility. Board member Todd Gravelle commented that the Greektown Casino is putting unimaginable strain on the resources of the tribe and it should be sold.


06/19/2008 03:15 PM
By Richard Kennedy