Oneida Nation pays out $88 million to members in per capita

Oneida, Wisconsin (AP) 12-07

The Oneida Tribe of Indians distributed $88 million during December in its largest payout to members yet from gaming revenues.

Each of the tribe’s 16,000 members received at least $5,000, the tribe said.

The General Tribal Council voted in August to disburse the gaming revenues as a special one-time payment. The Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the disbursement on December 10 and checks went out a few days later to members, tribal spokeswoman Bobbi Webster said.

Members younger than 62 received $5,000, while those over 62 recieved $10,000, she said.

The tribe’s younger members typically get an annual payment of $800 each October, Webster said, so this one-time payment is a big jump.

Members decided in August to return more money to the group because the tribe already contributes to charities, businesses, fundraising and other ventures, Webster said.

“The membership just felt it was time that they perhaps were able to enjoy part of those revenues as well,” she said.

The council later rejected a proposal to reduce the payments to about $2,000, she said.

There are between 5,000 and 6,000 Oneida members in Wisconsin, with the rest spread throughout the country.

The tribe has an annual budget of more than $500 million. Members made sure in approving the disbursement that it would not lead to spending or job cuts, Webster said.

Members are being told not to carry large amounts of cash and exercise caution after they receive the payments to avoid theft, she said.