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Tribes pay members

H&N photo by Andrew Mariman
Jessica Jackson, of Chiloquin, shows a check she received from the Klamath Tribes Friday morning. The money comes from revenue generated at the Kla-Mo-Ya casino. Members said the payments are a sign of the Tribes’ improving health and progress.

Per capita distribution first since 1954 for Klamath Tribes

H&N Staff Writer
Saturday, September 22, 2007 2:59 PM PDT
CHILOQUIN — Mary Gentry was a small child when members of the Klamath Tribes last received per capita payments from tribal revenue.

She remembers going to Klamath Agency to collect her check, worth about $200. A short time later, the Tribes lost federal recognition and its history of self-sufficiency faltered.

But Friday, for the first time since 1954, the Klamath Tribes distributed per capita checks based on about $3.6 million worth of revenue to around 3,600 tribal members. Members received a little more than $1,000 per person.

Some started waiting at 11 p.m. Thursday at the Klamath Tribes Administration near Chiloquin. They came from Nevada, California and Washington as well as the Klamath Basin.

Tribal members said the payments are a sign of the Tribes’ improving health and progress toward the self-sufficiency it had in the 1950s.

“My children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren are part of this,” said Gentry, tribal member benefits administrator. “It’s exciting.”


Friday’s payments come from the Tribes’ gaming operations at Kla-Mo-Ya casino. While exempt from state and local taxes, tribal members will be required to pay federal taxes on the payments.

Payments for those under age 18 will go into individual trust funds.

Once they are 18 and have a high school diploma or GED, they will be able to access the money. Otherwise, it becomes available when they turn 21.

Tribes around the county provide per capita payments to their members for their share in tribal businesses. The payments vary, from about $50 per person up into the thousands.


Preparing for the event was a five-year process. Along with compiling all member information, tribal administration went through the regulations set by the U.S. Department of the Interior on Indian gaming. A member benefits department had to be set up to disburse the payments.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Torina Case, tribal council secretary. “It’s always something you want to do is give back to your people.”

Tribal officials hope the distributions will be made annually, depending on how profitable the casino is. Kla-Mo-Ya opened in 1997.

Individual plans for the checks differed.

James Sr. and Preslianna Hamilton plan to use their checks to pay for new school clothes for their 4-year-old son, Desimus, and his four brothers. Winnie Foster said she’d either invest in a new computer or her home.

Money for tuition

Jessica Jackson’s check will allow her to pay fall-term tuition at Klamath Community College. She was thankful for the check because she was denied financial aid. She’ll even have money left to pay for gas to get to and from class.

Christine G. Allen said she appreciates the money. She was in her 30s and working for the Klamath Agency the last time she received a per capita payment.

She had no plans for her money yet. Rather, the payments will ensure the future stability of the tribal members who have come after her.

“This will help the younger generation,” she said.

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