Tag Archives: Native communities

First Nations Development Institute Releases Critical Report On A Model Tribal Consumer Protection Code

With funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, First Nations Development Institute announces the release of a new research report that examines the passage of consumer protection and anti-predatory lending legislation by tribal governments. Previous research has demonstrated that predatory lending is stripping money from low-income tribal citizens, especially those who are unbanked or underbanked. Some tribes have passed legislation to provide consumer protection for their citizens.

“Tribes have the power to establish their own legislation that limits predatory lending on reservations and this sends a strong signal that such lenders are not welcome,” stated Michael E. Roberts, president of First Nations Development Institute. “This report helps tribal leaders think through the options available to them as they work to avoid asset stripping in the form of high-cost loans.” The report also includes a model tribal code that can be adopted by tribal governments to limit the activities of predatory lenders.

The report, titled Building Trust: Consumer Protection in Native Communities, is the first attempt to explore the complex legal dynamics related to tribal consumer protection legislation and to discuss what tribal nations are already doing to combat predatory lending through the use of tribal legislation. Examining existing consumer protection and anti-predatory lending policies, this report also highlights issues that tribal leaders should consider in developing such legal and regulatory tools, including matters related to tribal legal jurisdiction and setting up regulatory systems.

Levon Henry, the executive director of DNA People’s Legal Services, will be presenting the paper at the South Dakota Indian Business Alliance conference on May 17, 2011 in Rapid City, South Dakota. Henry was a member of an advisory committee that directed the research for this project. DNA People’s Legal Services is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit legal aid organization working to protect civil rights, promote tribal sovereignty and alleviate civil legal problems for people who live in poverty in the southwestern United States. “We have seen the negative impact of predatory lending on many tribal members,” stated Henry. “Tribes can take a pro-active step and adopt legislation that can limit the impact of such activities.”

For more information about the report Building Trust: Consumer Protection in Native Communities, visit First Nations Development Institute’s website at www.firstnations.org.

Via EPR Network
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First Nations Launches Native Asset Building Partnership Project

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) released the names of the advisory committee members for its new Native Asset-Building Partnership. Members include Anita Fineday, Chief Judge of the White Earth Tribal Nation; Tadd Johnson, Special Counsel for Government Affairs for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe; Susan White, Director of the Oneida Trust Department; former Senior Vice President and board member of First Nations, Sherry Salway Black; Elsie Meeks, Director of the USDA Rural Development Office; attorney Margaret Schaff, partner at Schaff & Clark-Deschene; Tracy Fischer, Interim President of the First Nations Oweesta Cooperation; and Michael E. Roberts, President of First Nations Development Institute.

The goal of the Native Asset-Building Partnership Project is to strengthen tribal and Native institutions in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota through tribal nation-to-nation peer learning and model development that will lead to improved control and management of assets for the benefit of Native communities and individuals. Advisory committee member Susan White said, “Peer mentoring will provide ideas and processes on how Indians as the true stakeholders can gain greater control over their own assets. Applying mentoring objectives will elevate a tribe’s ability to be more self-determined and therefore gain greater control over their own assets.”

First Nations’ goal is to partner tribes around specified assets and allow them to share best practices for asset stewardship and management. “Through this project we will be able to continue to ask questions from our brothers and sisters at other tribal nations and create long-term enduring benefit to Indian Country,” notes advisory committee member Anita Fineday who is Chief Judge of the White Earth Tribal Nation located in White Earth, Minnesota.

Sherry Salway Black said “assets are incredibly important for individuals, families, communities, and nations – including tribal nations. The ownership, control, management and development of current assets and creation and acquisition of new assets taken together are wealth and assure a better future.”

The Native Asset-Building Project advisory committee is composed of national and regional leaders familiar with asset-building in Native American communities. “First Nations is grateful to have the participation of such well respected national and regional leaders in Indian Country,” said Michael E. Roberts. The project advisory committee will assist in engaging tribes and Native organizations in the targeted states to determine asset-building needs and regionally-relevant models and assist in the planning and hosting of an asset-building conference that will take place in Minneapolis, Minnesota this fall.

The Native American Asset Building Project is a two-year project funded by the Otto Bremer Foundation, based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. For more information about First Nations’ Native Asset Building Project, contact Raymond Foxworth, Research Officer for First Nations at 303-774-7836 or rfoxworth@firstnations.org.

About First Nations Development Institute
Founded in 1980, First Nations Development Institute is a national Native American-led nonprofit organization. Through a three-pronged strategy of Educating Grassroots Practitioners, Advocating for Systemic Change, and Capitalizing Indian Communities, First Nations Development Institute is working to restore Native control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage, or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native communities. To learn more about First Nations, visit: www.firstnations.org.

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Integrated Asset Building Strategies for Reservation-Based Communities

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) announced the publication and release of “Integrated Asset Building Strategies for Reservation-Based Communities: A 27-Year Retrospective of First Nations Development Institute.” This unprecedented report is the culmination of more than a quarter century of work by First Nations and highlights the economic, social and cultural resilience and ingenuity of Native peoples across the United States.

Funded by a generous grant from the Ford Foundation, the report includes original research on several key asset-building strategies in Native communities: financial education, individual development accounts, community development financial institutions, entrepreneurship development, building Native controlled philanthropic foundations and funds, and utilizing the earned income tax credit. Drawing upon a unique mix of practitioner and academic research, the report presents new data and analysis of asset building in Native communities.

According to Michael E. Roberts, President of First Nations, “In order to accurately identify and assess the needs and trends in Indian Country, we need to continually review and evaluate First Nations’ major asset building approaches and their effects in Native communities and this report does just that.” In addition, Roberts notes that the report is being released publicly “to allow everyone with an interest in Indian Country the opportunity to access the models, tools, analysis and information from First Nations’ comprehensive body of work over the last 27 years.”

Through a three-pronged strategy of Educating Grassroots Practitioners, Advocating Systemic Change, and Capitalizing Indian Communities, First Nations is working to restore Native control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage, or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native communities.

To learn more about this report, or to order copies, visit the First Nations Development Institute Website at www.firstnations.org or contact Sarah Dewees, Director of Research, via email at: sdewees@firstnations.org or by phone at: 540-371-5615.

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