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Former Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Chairperson Aaron Payment has been named the Director of Government Relations at the National Indian Health Board (NIHB), based in Washington, D.C.  His appointment became effective on June 14, 2022.

Payment served as Chair of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians for more than 14 years and an additional eight years on the tribe’s council.

In a news release distributed on Thursday, the NIHB said as the organization reaches its 50th anniversary, expanding government relations will position NIHB to better serve tribal communities. It will be invaluable to have in-house the skills and perspective of a seasoned tribal leader who has served in many leadership positions.

“I have had the pleasure of advocating side-by-side with Dr. Payment on Capitol Hill – in congressional offices – to lawmakers – and as witnesses testifying side by side during Congressional hearings. The Government Relations Department at NIHB brings under one Department Congressional and Federal Relations, advocacy, regulatory policy analysis, and appropriations,”  NIHB CEO Stacy A. Bohlen (Sault Ste. Marie Band of Chippewa Indians) said. 

“I am humbled to transition to serve all of Indian Country. I feel blessed to have had long standing and widespread support among Tribal nations and pledge to do my very best starting with securing Congressional Advanced Appropriations for the Indian Health Service” explained Dr. Payment. 

During his many years of serving as tribal chairperson for the Sault Ste. Tribe of Chippewa, Payment, who has a doctoral education degree, became a strong voice on the national level. He served on the US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee including as Vice Chair. He chaired the National Institutes of Health Tribal Advisory Committee, was Tribal Health Research Advisory Chair, and was on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Tribal Advisory Committee. 

Additionally, Payment spent nearly a decade of service as the National Congress of American Indians Midwest Regional Vice President, including two terms as Recording Secretary, and two terms as first Vice President.

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In his role, Payment will oversee Congressional and Federal Relations and Advocacy, as well as budget and policy. This “one-stop-shop” approach promises to be formidable as it will be at the heart of advancing the Tribal health agenda, the NIHB said in its release.

“We are so pleased that Dr. Payment joins NIHB’s team. CEO Bohlen further explained, “I am confident he will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to NIHB’s work as we celebrate NIHB’s50th Anniversary and envision the next 50 years. We have the opportunity to make a real impact with the Administration’s historic funding to Indian Country and commitment to Advanced Appropriations, and I cannot think of anyone better suited to lead this effort.”  

For more information regarding Indian Health Service (IHS) Advanced Appropriations, please visit the NIHB website at www.nihb.org.

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