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Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho

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A proposal to make membership on the tribal council a full-time job with an estimated $65,000 a year in salary and benefits stirred controversy on the northern Idaho reservation. Only Chairman Ernie Stensgar is paid a full-time salary. The six other members receive modest stipends for attending weekly tribal council meetings and hold down other full-time jobs. The salary plan received support from tribal members at the regular general membership meeting in March. Final ratification is up to council members. Newly elected Councilman Chiarpah Matheson said he does not think council members should be salaried. "They look at their positions as more of an honor than a job. They know the decisions they make are not going to impact their employment.'' Most other tribes have full-time councils, said Alice Koskela, legal counsel for the tribe. The Nez Perce, for example, has nine full-time council members, she said. Paying council members a salary has been discussed in the past, tribal newspaper editor Donna Matheson said, but now the tribe is financially able to do so, largely because of the success of the tribe's casino and hotel in Worley.

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