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.