Saint Regis Mohawk Elder’s Benefit Pilot Program Scheduled for July 15th Disbursement

Members of the Saint Regis Mohawk Seniors Club were present as the Akwesasne Convenience Store Association provided their first monthly contribution of $10,000 to help fund the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Elders Benefit Pilot Program. The Elders Benefit is intended to help alleviate the financial burden of tribal elders ages 68-years old or more that reside in the southern portion of Akwesasne or within the 15-mile radius of the Tribe’s jurisdiction. Present were (from left, first row) Tribal Sub-Chief Agnes “Sweets” Jacobs, Tribal Sub-Chief Cheryl Jacobs, Pat Thomas, Senior Club President Lois Thomas, Tribal Chief Beverly Cook, and John Lazore. (second row, from left) Tribal Chief Michael Conners, Rick Hamelin, Tawit Francis. Keegan Thomas, Bula Hill, Gail General, Rachel Lazare, Faith “Noonie” Thomas, and Tribal Chief Eric Thompson.

Published May 1, 2018

Compliance Department Taking Applications Starting May 12th

AKWESASNE—The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council is pleased to announce a new tribal program has been developed to provide financial assistance to tribal elders beginning on Ohiarihkó:wa/July 15, 2018. A three-year pilot program is being launched that will provide quarterly disbursements of $600 (equivalent of $200 per month) to tribal elders ages 68-years old or more who reside within the southern portion of the Akwesasne community or in the 15-mile radius of the Tribe’s jurisdiction.

“I thank members of the Elder’s Benefit Working Group for their efforts during the past year in helping to fulfill the intended purpose of the elders benefit referendum,” said Tribal Chief Eric Thompson. Chief Thompson added, “Along with the support of the Tribal Council, Office of the Executive Director, Chief Financial Officer, General Counsel and other tribal staff; reasonable and realistic recommendations were provided to help an important segment of the Akwesasne community—our elders.”

On Tsiothóhrha/December 3, 2016; a tribal referendum was held to determine support for an elder’s benefit of $200 each month however, a budgetary plan was not developed that identified the benefit’s funding source. As a result, following the referendum’s passage by 385 “yes” votes to 150 “no’ votes, the Tribal Council assembled an Elder’s Benefit Working Group to help research and propose options for the benefit’s implementation. The working group identified new funding sources that will not affect existing programs and services provided to all tribal members and the community of Akwesasne.

During the past year, the seven-person Elder’s Benefit Working Group, which is comprised of tribal members who represented a cross section of the community, met to research information on tribal programs and services, as well as the gaming operations. Their final report was completed and presented to the Tribal Council on Kentenhkó:wa/November 26, 2017 and contained options and recommendations for implementation of an Elder’s Benefit Pilot Program.

“The Elder’s Benefit Working Group’s final report summarizes their weekly meetings, discussions on services presently provided to tribal elders, possible eligibility requirements, and possibilities for funding a new tribal program,” shared Tribal Chief Michael Conners. He added, “It provided a framework for subsequent work that was done earlier this year in developing the policies, procedures and amendments needed to implement a three-year pilot program that will provide financial assistance to tribal elders.”

The Tribal Council, with the assistance of the Elder’s Benefit Working Group, determined that a three-year Elder’s Benefit Pilot Program can be funded by increasing the Hotel Motel Occupancy Fees and through a Memorandum of Understanding with the Akwesasne Convenience Store Association for its remittal of agreed-upon monies on a monthly basis. The pilot program will also be supplemented through new revenue streams that entails a 4-percent fee on cash sales for food and beverages at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort and allocating start-up funds from the Tribe’s Community Development Investment Fund (patent funds).

The Elder’s Benefit Pilot Program will be subject to written guideline and disbursed on a quarterly basis (every three months) through direct deposits, with the first disbursement of $600 scheduled for Ohiarihkó:wa/July 15, 2018. The quarterly disbursement will be a “general welfare” benefit provided by the Tribe under the provisions of the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2014. Its goal is to provide tribal elders with financial support to meet their basic living needs; such as safe and habitable housing, assistance with meals and home care, and assistance with medical expenses and non-prescription medications.

To receive the benefit, tribal elders ages 68-years old who reside in the southern portion of Akwesasne or within the 15-mile radius of the Tribe’s jurisdiction will need to complete an application in-person with the Tribe’s Compliance Department, located in the Community Building at 412 State Route 37 in Akwesasne, New York. Those requiring assistance can arrange for a home visit to complete the application by calling (518) 358-2272.

“Given the success of the Elder’s Electricity Assistance Pilot Project, I’m confident that the Elder’s Benefit Pilot Program will also help alleviate the financial stress and burdens experienced by many of our tribal elders,” remarked Tribal Chief Beverly Cook. Chief Cook added, “Similar to the previous initiative for tribal elders, we intend to re-evaluate and, hopefully, expand this new tribal program in the near future.”

Applications for the first disbursement will be available beginning on Onerahtohkó:wa/May 12, 2018 until Ohiarí:ha/June 12, 2018 Any applications received after June 12th will be included in the second disbursement scheduled for Kenténha/October 15, 2018. Only one application needs to be completed for tribal elders to become enrolled into the Elder’s Benefit Pilot Program.

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