Post Office sends back tribal disbursement checks

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NEW TOWN, N.D. - If you're waiting on an important piece of mail, it can seem like it takes forever to reach you. But what do you do when you find out the post office returned it before ever giving you the chance to get it? That's what a lot people in the New Town community are now asking.

The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation recently mailed its tribal disbursement checks, worth $1,000, to more than 15,000 tribal members, but the distribution didn't go according to plan.

"On Friday I know the checks were going to be mailed, so I go to check the mail on Saturday and my check is in there but nobody else's. I have five other people that live with me --my four children and my fiance," says Kelly Hosie, Tribal Member, New Town resident.

Hosie says when she asked one of the postal employees where the other checks were, she was told that all the checks were returned if the names didn't match the names on the post office box application. So she asked to see her application.

"So she pulls my application, and I say 'all my kids' names are on here,'" says Hosie.

At that point Hosie says she requested to speak with the post master.

"I want to know why all of a sudden you have an issue putting other people's names, mail in my box when it wasn't an issue before," says Hosie.

She says he told her that he just started enforcing the policy listed on the application for the box as of that day.

Chairman Fox says there is typically about one to two percent of checks that end up returned as deliverable for various reasons, but he says this time was different.

"There were a number, a significant number, of checks that weren't delivered, so we're responsible to our members to make sure the distribution goes as best as possible," says MHA Chairman Mark Fox.

He says they had to create a secondary process of distribution, which meant members have to physically pick up their check at the Tribal Administration Building.

"It created a bit of a headache for us but is one we don't want to go through again," says Fox.

Fox says in the future he plans to sit down with his staff and work with the post office to figure out ways to keep this problem from happening again.

The New Town Post Master declined to comment on this incident.

Chairman Fox says this disbursement is one of only three that the tribe can provide this year to its members.

Anyone who hasn't received their check yet is asked to stop by, call the Tribal Administration Building or go to www.mhanation.com.