Wednesday, March 21, 2018

'Per cap' plagued with perplexing problems

In their efforts to process “thousands of requests from the public” for April 10 per capita checks, the Crow Tribe’s Enrollment and Finance departments have run into multiple complications. The checks – for $215 – have sometimes bounced, arrived with an incorrect amount printed upon them, or been mailed to the wrong address or person.
“We are very grateful to assist each and every tribal member who has called or came into the Enrollment office,” an April 21 post from the Crow Tribe of Indians Facebook page states. “The Enrollment Department is currently distributing the checks returned from post offices.”
According to Emerson Bull Chief, former director of the Tribal Historic Preservation Office, the departments’ current employees are having difficulties working with their Progeny Tribal Enrollment Software database. He learned this information, he said, based on conversations with former Enrollment and Finance workers.
Knowledge of how to use the database, he continued, was lost in translation as he and other employees from former Chairman Darrin Old Coyote’s administration moved out on Dec. 2, 2016 and Chairman A.J. Not Afraid’s workers moved in. Bull Chief has received his check, he continued, but he decided to address the issue for those who are affected and wary of possible repercussions.
The News attempted to contact both the Enrollment and Finance departments, but was not answered.
“Everything was set up by the old administration, so when Dec. 10 came around, A.J.’s people were able to get that per cap out without an issue,” Bull Chief said. “There were long lines for many days after per cap was issued [on April 10]. Now, the lines are shorter, but people are still waiting.”
For some tribal members, including Minneapolis baker Ellsworth F. Ten Bear Jr., a delay in per capita payments doesn’t affect their lives to a significant degree. His son hasn’t received his check yet, he said, but Ten Bear expects it to arrive eventually.
He has had to track a check down in the past, he continued, but considers the waiting process part of living away from the Crow Reservation.
“We already expect that to happen,” he said. “It usually takes a couple days longer.”
For others, such as Lark Real Bird of Garryowen, money from these checks provides an important boost to help her family. 
Her daughter, Real Bird said, had been expecting per capita money to help pay for expenses during a trip out of state in connection with her school. When her daughter’s check didn’t come, Real Bird had to send her own money to help the trip go smoothly.
Up until now, Real Bird said, she had always received checks for herself and her children on time. This year, she needed to visit the Enrollment office to get her per capita on April 12, then fill out a “green sheet” with her son and daughter’s names. Recently, she has become familiar with the green forms.
Real Bird’s son has since found his check at a Garryowen address the family hadn’t used in 20 years and she found hers at another address that had gone unused for 10. To locate her family’s per capita, Real Bird had to stand in line for upwards of 45 minutes on several occasions, often receiving little in the way of answers.
This changed, coincidentally, the day of her interview on Monday. On the way to the News office, she ran into an Enrollment worker who found the location of her daughter’s check.
“Who knows where my daughter’s check went?” she said that afternoon. “I guess I’ll find out today.”
At press time, Real Bird located the check at her mailing address from 20 years ago, which she used before her daughter was born.
To contact Enrollment, call (406) 679-5313.