SUPPORTING SOBRIETY:  A Tribal Chairperson Should Set the Example

thankful and gratefulGuest Commentary

In 1993, I chose to abstain from drinking alcohol to support my sister’s sobriety. You see, it is extremely difficult for one family member to get sober when all other family members live a lifestyle with alcohol.

The benefit, however, has been mine as I have a sober sister and the spin off to the next generation began with her sobriety. I also benefitted because while I do not believe I ever had an issue, why would I be exempt from this disease grabbing hold of me? If you don’t drink or do drugs, it can never take hold. My choice to abstain has benefitted me as much as my sister.

I have been drug and alcohol free since 1993. I owe it to my sister.

As Chair of the largest Tribe east of the Mississippi, I also believe it is my responsibility to project a sober and healthy lifestyle to our people as well as that of all American Indian people. This includes having voted against our Midjim liquor licenses 100% of the time over the years. I certainly would not operate a private business that sells booze. I find that immoral.

Sault Ste. Marie Tribal Chairperson Aaron Payment

Sault Ste. Marie Tribal Chairperson Aaron Payment

I do not condemn those who drink, I just know life is so much better without it. A chair, chief, tribal president, governor, or ogema should be of sound mind and body and live a wellness and sober lifestyle. Our people have been devastated by the disease of alcoholism, illegal drugs and now suicide.

I believe the chair should set an example. I accept that my life is under a microscope and I am proud to try to live up to the highest example; especially for our youth and those in recovery. You will never see me drinking alcohol. You certainly will never see pics of me on Facebook doing shots.

A sober life is a great one. It is our Anishinabe Biimadziwiin. I promote this in a non-judgmental way. I believe when we face the Creator, we need to have, “Clean Hands and Straight Eyes.”

Chi MeGwitch, Negee!

Aaron Payment is the tribal chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, based in Sault Ste. Michigan. With over 43,000 tribal citizens, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe is the largest tribe east of the Mississippi and operates gaming and enterprises.  In addition to his role as tribal chairperson of his Tribe, Payment serves secretary for the National Congress of American Indians and serves on a tribal advisory board for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In August 2015, he was named to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education by President Obama.

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  1. Patricio 3 years ago
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