There are a lot of misconceptions about what benefits Native American tribal members receive. I would be more than happy to answer questions about how the system works. Along with other general questions about modern native Americans.

Edit: Tribal ID: imgur.com/a/8dcxPK1

Edit: I am going to try to respond to everyone just be patient I wasn’t expecting so many people to be interested.

These are my experiences as a Potawatomi member, all tribes run things their own way

Edit: to amend previous statements, Native American tribes do receive money from the government in the form of grants. How much each tribe receives depends on various factors. This money is to be spent in social services, it is not going into any individuals wallet. It is given to tribes via the treaty that states that the US government has to pay reprimands for stealing our country. The US is basically paying long overdue rent.

Common Question 1: Do all tribes have these benefits?

Answer: No, some tribes are well off due to mostly revenue from casinos, the MAJORITY of tribes are poor

Common Question 2: Trust Funds?

Answer: Members get a trust fund they can access when they turn 18, they get a partial chunk on their 18th birthday, then smaller chunks every year until they turn 28, and get everything. If you graduate a four year college you get all the money immediately.

Comments: 555 • Responses: 42  • Date: 

queenith21450 karma

This is the thinking that made me want to make this ama. Please try to understand that we are NOT RECEIVING MONEY FROM THE GOVERNMENT. The money tribes have is made through their businesses, usually casinos. Tribes can only open up casinos on land that already belongs to them. None of your taxes are going to any tribe. In fact the US government is constantly trying to take away more and more property from tribes. Unlike other businesses tribes usually spend all the money they earn back on the well being of the tribal members. Edit: someone pointed out to me that the government does give some money to tribal grants, but I doubt any individual gets that money, and if it makes anyone feel better, my trust fund, and monthly per capita payments get GUTTED by US taxes. The amount of money each member gets taxed from receiving payments from probably makes up more than what any grant is worth. 0ur tribe also puts a lot of money back into the city of Milwaukee.

Sunkitteh2 karma

Hi- maybe add this comment in an edit to your main text? Lotsa redditors now assume the money comes from taxes and won't read through to this. Just saying.

queenith212 karma

Will do

baumbach191 karma

Pretty sure the government pays quite a bit actually I thought I read an article it was over 20 billion dollars that goes to tribes in the US?

I think saying that non of anyone's taxes are going to any tribe is not accurate.

queenith213 karma

I’ve been informed that the government gives grants to tribes, but there are hundreds of tribes, I’m sure not everyone gets the same amount of money. And that money is certainly not going into any individuals pocket

Onearmplanche168 karma

What benefits do you receive?

queenith21410 karma

Life insurance, free healthcare, free tuition plus books, money towards your first house, guaranteed job at tribe owned bussiness, elderly care, then money every two weeks earned by the tribe that is evenly split between the members.

Onearmplanche156 karma

Why is substance abuse such a large problem in tribes? Do you believe these benefits help or hurt the substance abuse issues?

queenith21330 karma

It has everything to do with your environment. I’d say outside of the reservation a Native American has the same chance of having drug issues than any other person. On the reservation these issues can get pretty bad, and becomes normalized for people growing up there. Kids who live o the reservations tend to blow through their money or get mooched on by friends and relatives. If you handle your money correctly you could essentially live off it if you live somewhat modestly. So its bad to give people who are addicted to drugs money, but at the same time it gives them a chance at a new life. My aunt was in the grips of addiction on the reservation and with the tribes help she was able to move far away from the people enabling her. There are plenty of programs that offer money help, and addiction help through the tribe, but no one can force you can go to them.

AngelLust012 karma

That and Trauma. My grandparents grew up in a residential school. They both coped with their trauma by alcohol and substances. They didn't know how love and affection felt. My grandma and grandpa didnt hug or kiss my mom goodnight until she was 13. A lot of people on the reserve were sad, depressed, and angry when they were finished schooling. Plus theres almost nothing on the reserve for today's kids to play or to have fun with. Except drinking and smoking up.

queenith215 karma

That’s what our tribe thought, we basically decked out the res with fun things to do, and the problem still persists

ProfessorZ300025 karma

This sounds great, how do I join a tribe?

queenith2180 karma

Lol well if you have kids with someone who’s 50% you won’t have to dish out much money on them. Spouses that are non members but are married to members also get partial benefits.

warlord9162 karma

So you married 😉😉😂

queenith213 karma

🚩🇦🇱🇦🇹🇧🇾🇧🇲🇨🇳🇩🇰 lol, people trying to have kids with members just to get some benefits actually is an issue

bucketofboilingtears9 karma

That depends on the tribe. Many tribes offer no spouse benefits. I'm a tribal spouse, and fortunately I do get free health insurance through the tribe. My husband doesn't get any $ directly from the tribe, but he does some $ from various funds - he gets reimbursed for his fishing license and gets $ to put towards a personal trainer (or any exercise expenses). Every time I drive by the casino I think "Thank you all for the health insurance!"

queenith212 karma

Yeah I think health insurance and the tuition are the things I’m most grateful for. And everything I talk about will be from the perspective of MY tribe, as that’s what I know about.

lefttheovenoff53 karma

The benefits you receive are pretty amazing. It seems the that would really set up anyone going forward in life to have them. Have the general rates of higher education and social mobility improved over the years as a result? If not, why do you think that's the case

queenith21103 karma

That’s a great question. I think it depends on the individual. Despite all the money going into the community and the people, there is a lot of drug and alcohol issues in the reservation, and not a lot of kids take advantage of the education system. I think the issue is that kids who grow up on the reservation know how much money they are so for, and when they get the money on their 18th they go nuts, and their parents, friends, and other adults take advantage of them. I didn’t grow up on the reservation, and my parents didn’t tell me I was going to get anything until the day I actually got it. And even then they knew it was coming so throughout my childhood they taught me to be fiscally responsible. The environment you grow up in is paramount to how u use the resources that become available to you. I know some people who will squander everything they get in the first year, but I know if some that have started businesses, and use their benefits as a way to further improve their lives. It really comes down to the individual, and the people around you.

drag0nw0lf8 karma

Do you think this could be alleviated by a timed release of money? Like they could get 25% when they turn 18, then 25% at 25 etc?

The more I read about the developing brain of humans the more I understand that although there's a lot an 18 year old can understand and do, the frontal cortex doesn't develop fully until around age 25. That limits impulse control and long-term planning and without it, a lot of bad habits are established in that gap. This applies to all kids of all cultures. If they didn't have quite so much money to go through so early, perhaps it could help?

queenith212 karma

They do do this. You get a chunk at 18, then a small fraction every year until I turn 28. Or u get it all when u graduate

Moonrider25781248 karma

What are your views on sacred lands? One of my friend is native american and she told me that the term "sacred land" gets tossed around a lot these days. Also does your tribe have the option of opening up a casino? I have heard that when a casino opens up, crimes rates do spike in the surrounding area. Finally, What are your views on other natives like native Hawaiians and the native people of Canada?

queenith21101 karma

Sacred lands are a tough one. Usually when hear about this it has to do with burial land. Obviously I think burial land holdin a tribes dead, land that has always belonged to them, shouldn’t be messed with. Then there is just land, a fraction of what they used to have. Even still the US government is constantly trying to take back what little land has been allowed to most tribes. Next, my tribe already has a casino, it’s in Milwaukee, which is already a pretty crime ridden city. But the casino is located In what I’d say is the industrial area, so away from neighborhoods, and most crime is due to poverty, and the casino supplies the city with over 3000 well paying jobs. Plus the tribe gives back a lot to the city of Milwaukee in terms of fundraising, community event spaces, sponsorships, city planning and so on. Finally other natives, of don’t really have an opinion to their situation that is different to my thoughts on American Indians, most countries treat their natives pretty badly, I empathize with them. I mean in the 60’s the us would secretly sterilize native Americans to try to reduce the population, I heard something similar happened in Canada.

howdoestimefly39 karma

Do you know of any drastic differences between the different Potawatomi bands in the United States?

I'm a member of the Oklahoma band, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and while I can receive scholarships through them, the rest of the benefits you've mentioned don't apply to me... maybe because I don't live on tribe land.

Nativedescent24 karma

I don’t believe OP is an expert, but does know a bit. Fellow Oklahoman here and from my knowledge, Potawatomi gets some of the better benefits out of most tribes (at least better than Caddo, Choctaw, and Cherokee or I would be on a different tribe) and we don’t get full tuition, we get maximum $2,300 in first time home buyer assistance, etc. There is more benefits for those living on tribal land, but not to make it worth moving from OKC to Shawnee.

PerilousAll3 karma

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queenith213 karma

Lol I’ve never heard of it

queenith212 karma

We got lucky, most of our land is in the middle of nowhere, we got one little patch in Milwaukee, and we made the most of it

queenith2135 karma

Yea I completely agree knowing that your life isn’t going to be ruined by an injury or student debt takes a lot of weight of your shoulders.

the_excited_moa21 karma

Can you tell me a bit about the tribes history? I am European, so I do not have a great knowledge about the current or past situation of native North-Americans. I would be glad if you could tell me anything about the culture, religion, status, how the rest of Americans see you etc.

queenith2155 karma

We are a minority and I would say most Americans seldom think about or understand us. The US government treats most tribes very poorly. Back when the English and French first came to America to colonize it they brought disease. Which wiped out most of the native population, then they committed genocide on top of that and stole all of their land. When things got a little more civilized the US government gave the tribes “some” land back, this land is called reserves, where many natives live today. The population is falling because of integration, there are very few full blooded natives left. Back in the day the US would force native children into boarding schools where they would try to brainwash them into forsaking their culture. Most of the culture was passed down through spoken word, not documentation, so a lot was lost. Today there are pow wows, which are cultural dances accompanied by drummers. There are a lot of videos online if pow wows. As for religion it is hard to say, every tribe has their own take on how we came to be.

odinsvalhalla17 karma

Why is it that i never see native Americans with a beard, or bald heads or chest hair? Off topic but i hoped you knew why.

Also, by receiving benefits, do you mean material benefits like money? If so, what do you get exactly, and what do you have to do to get it??

queenith2134 karma

I think some groups of people, genetically, have a harder time growing facial hair. No men in my family or other tribe members I know have long facial hair. In order to get benefits you have to be a member of a tribe that is relatively well off. MOST tribes require you to have a certain % of blood to be a member. That percentage can vary. In my tribe it’s 25%, but there are ongoing talks to lower that %. The benefits you receive depend on the tribe, and how much money they make. My tribe owns the Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee, so there’s good income. All proceeds made form the casino go to the tribe, who divides it up as they like. There is no one ceo or board, all profits go to maintaining the casino, and for the good of the tribe. My benefits are huge: full tuition cost without limit (this includes books), full medical care insurance, there is nothing medically I’ve ever had to pay for, 1 mil life insurance, guaranteed job through any tribal owned business, 150,000 to he first house I buy. Everyone gets a trust they can cash out on on their 18th bday. Then we get our individual shares from the tribe profit every two weeks.

JiveTurkeyMFer3 karma

Is there a way to have to your blood checked in order to receive benefits? My stepdad is 50% native, but his dad was an orphan as a kid and picked up his adopted families name so his history has been super hard to track down. What can be done to get him benefits?

staceywacey1 karma

It's called a blood quantum certificate, but its basically genealogy. To be enrolled in my tribe, we had to trace direct lineage to a person on a specific census that was taken in the early 1900s.

As far as your stepdad goes, it all depends on if his tribe is accepting new members. Having the genealogy and required documents ready (birth, death, marriage certificates) helps, but if the rolls aren't open, theres nothing you can do. My cousin needed a liver transplant last year and the tribe COULD have helped, but she isnt a member. My aunt missed the last time the rolls were open (back in the 90s) and didnt get herself or my cousins registered.

queenith212 karma

Yes this is mostly true but every tribe has different rules, so he may have an easier or harder time with it

sweet_puck12 karma

How do you feel about having Native representation in Congress? Do you think things might get better, in spite of the current administration?

queenith2122 karma

I think it’s pretty poor. That being said the amount of native Americans are going down simply through integration, and most kids on reservations receive poor education. Some tribes are better off than others though, and can afford nicer education systems. My tribe offers full rides to any college, and they certainly encourage kids to go into politics. It’s hard to see if I see things getting better, we become more and more of a minority every day. I think candidates like Bernie Sanders care, and even barrack did some good. In fact my dad met with barrack when he was in office to offer insight about Native American government. Nevertheless almost all tribes have their own sovereign governments and it can be like game of thrones at tribal meetings.

throw-ahhh-way11 karma

How do you feel about Native Americans/First Nations being used as the name or mascot for a sports team?

Also the use of imagery that is supposed represent culture like the spear on the Florida State Seminoles helmet?

queenith214 karma

I get this question a lot. Teams like the braves are fine, because a brave was just a title for a Native American warrior, like the Vikings. Obviously red skins is not ok as the very name itself is a derogatory slur. No one would be ok with calling a team the “wetbacks” or the “chinks” but then people go and argue that it’s ok, the most common defense is that it is honoring native Americans, very few of us feel honored by that

Redux_Z9 karma

What are your thoughts on the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians attempt at acquiring 1,390 acres of land on open market and to have it placed into federal trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, thereby increasing the size of their reservation?

seattlehusker6 karma

Why would anyone have an issue with the tribe using their own resources to but private property to expand their reservation? Not being obtuse but generally would like to understand the resistance.

rubbertolle2 karma

It’s because a lot of non-Natives see Natives’ rights to sovereign land as a “special privilege” and believe it’s unfair to everyone else. Once the land is in trust, regular taxes* and state and city regulations don’t apply because that’s how land sovereignty works. (I say *regular taxes because often tribes do agree to pay various taxes/tax alternatives as part of their agreement)

queenith213 karma

Trust me I get taxed out my ass every time I get paid my per capita

pod2g182 karma

Cherokee only gets it twice a year, so average $5k every 6 months after taxes

queenith212 karma

At least you get something, most tribes don’t

rubbertolle2 karma

Lol same. Our casino pays big chunk of taxes to the neighboring city too as part of our agreement.

queenith212 karma

That sucks

goat_nebula3 karma

Not OP but I'm interested as well. I was just thinking about how tribes and others could potentially pool resources to privately purchase land. How they use it or how it applies to Reservation Law through the Federal Government is an interesting next step there. Depending on the state and tribe, you would think they may want to keep it private and away from the Federal Government's involvement. If history shows anything it's that Native Americans trusting the Federal Government has not boded well for the former in the past. May just want to keep it in tribe hands and keep them out of it completely. Great question.

queenith212 karma

Well reservation land, I BELIEVE can not expand. Tribes can still buy land and do what they want with it, they just don’t get to have the special rights with it.

alittletooreal6 karma

Do you lose any/all benefits if you choose not to work for the tribe business? What are the requirements for keeping them and can you get them taken away?

queenith212 karma

Good question, no u don’t need to work for the tribe, as long as y meet the blood requirements u can be a member and receive benefits. You can get them taken away by being disentitled, or kicked out. But that has only happens one time in the history of the tribe and it was under strange circumstances. The tribe does not want to kick people out, so you get lots of second chances

blobdon5 karma

My father is 100% paiute. How did you connect to your tribe and how would him and I be able to connect to our tribe if we could? Do you need to have a certain percentage of native blood? Im interested in learning about my heritage I just never got around to doing so, but I intend to change that for both of us if possible.

queenith212 karma

It depends on the tribe, in all likelyhood 50% would be more than enough, you need to look up their website, the office headquarters or something. It’s possible your tribe has no benefits, but I would check around and see if you can make contact with them.

M-0D47in3 karma

Is there corruption in the tribe owned business? What's the governance structure? do you vote for your tribal leaders? Are they the one at the head of the business?

queenith212 karma

No corruption that I know of, there isn’t some big fat cat. The tribe votes for board members, the board members oversee everything. They propose laws and the members vote on them. I believe we hire people to run the bussiness’ but they do not make he rules

similar_observation2 karma

What is your opinion of the Parks and Rec episode Harvest Festival?

queenith212 karma

In the end Leslie does the right thing, that’s more than I can say about the US government

SirWitzig2 karma

Given your experience with the financial support from your tribe, do you think it would be good if everyone were to receive a universal basic income from the government?

queenith213 karma

Well yes I personally think that would be good, but the whole thing is way over my head

bw04049682 karma

Would you support government run casinos to fund this?

queenith212 karma

Well if they were competing with us... no. Lol

pgm1232 karma

I saw a Tweet about the 1838 Potawatomi Trail of Death and how it isn't taught in American schools. What did you learn about it and what would like to be taught to others?

queenith212 karma

Well most schools at least gloss over the trail of tears, the trail of death is the Potawatomi version. I honestly don’t know much about it, I wish schools would teach ore about NA in general. Usually they are either depicted as savages or the people who helped out the pilgrims. I mean for a long time Chris Colombia was the hero, they don’t teach you about the rape and genocide of an entire people

VoidWalker4Lyfe1 karma

Besides proving your lineage and becoming an official member, is there anything else you need to do to receive the benefits? Do you have to do any work for the tribe or anything?

queenith212 karma

Nope, just prove your blood quantum

doomteddiz1 karma

Do you think its fair that you get to receive these benefits?

Brytanium1 karma

Well it wasn't particularly fair when the white people took all their land and forced them onto small reservations without them even knowing what they were signing away. These benefits are some of the only things a lot of these tribes have going for them after so many years of Injustice.

doomteddiz1 karma

This was from a time when right of conquest was an understandable defense for genocide. People do shitty things, but should their descendants be made responsible for other people's actions? At least they had the chance to sign a document to save their lives. Many people in the past didn't even get that opportunity. I don't reap any benefit from what was done to the native americans, but I have to apologize and pay for your livelihood? The documents they signed to give away land gave their descendants food, healthcare, and housing for time immemorial. How is that an injustice?

queenith212 karma

First of all you don’t pay for our benefits. Second of all the us was not trying to save their lives they were trying to force them into a small area where they would die out. Third of all yes I think it’s fair. Think of it like this. Your grandparents get a plot of land to do with whatever they want. They build a unicorn factory. Now only your grandparents can build a unicorn factory cause only their land allows unicorn factories. Because they are the only unicorn factory around, your grandparents make a lot of money. Your grandparents then share all the money they earn with you and your whole family. Now is it unfair that you get your families hard earned money and your friends family doesn’t?

tammorrow1 karma

How do native Americans view the Dawes Act justifications of heritage?

queenith212 karma

Add that to my google search history. And I think it is a very fishy act. Presidents, especially back then, did not have tribes’ best interests at heart.

M-0D47in1 karma

Are there some tribal traditions the tribe try to maintain or revives? like what, and is done in that purpose?

queenith212 karma

Powwows. Look them up on YouTube. There is even a big festival for them that people form all different backgrounds come to see.

universe-atom1 karma

When will you do this kind of AMA again?

Simply thx for the AMA! It was really interesting! Love from Germany

queenith213 karma

It certainly gained more traction then i thought. My dad works in tribal politics so I may invite home to talk about how the legality and politics if he tribe work. I’m open to suggestions.

TrulyStupidNewb1 karma

Which country gives better benefits to Native Americans: Canada or USA?

queenith212 karma

I couldn’t say. What type and the quality of the benefits is up to the tribe itself, not the country.

Broketographer1 karma

I know you're answering questions primarily about benefits, but I recently began learning about Michigan's history and the indigenous people here. The Potawatomi were here in Kalamazoo, MI long before it was settled by Titus Brohnson. Before the Potawatomi, there were the moundbuilders. I'm curious, were you raised with any stories about the moundbuilders? It's a fascination of mine.

queenith212 karma

I don’t know any stories, but there are mound sites in Wisconsin if you want to visit. I agree they are pretty cool.

x98secrets1 karma

I have volunteered to build and repair houses on some Navajo, Sioux, and Cherokee reservations. If you have had people from outside come help has it made a difference and in what way?

queenith212 karma

In the beginning the tribe was poor, and the neighbors hated us. Nowadays there is plenty of money for things like building and maintaining homes, so I doubt there is much need for volunteer workers.

Nezrite1 karma

When will Dream Dance re-open? (yep, I'm making it all about me and my needs)

queenith212 karma

This fall, so probably soon. Heard they spent 2mil on the renovations so hopefully it’ll be worth the wait.

beetnemesis1 karma

Interesting AMA, thanks.

  • How does tribal businesses (like the casinos you mentioned) impact daily life? Is everyone expected or invited to learn the casino biz? Are there other businesses that are started that are shared in a similar way?

  • What is an interesting fact about your tribe from pre-colonial days?

queenith212 karma

Our tribe animal is the bear. Young tribal members are given a paid internship to learn about how the casino is run over the summer. I would say unless you work there, the only part the casino plays in you life is providing most of the tribes revenue.