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The U.S. Treasury's CDFI Fund has awarded a total of $12.4 million to organizations that serve Native American communities.
Tanya Fiddler, executive director of Four Bands Community Fund, has been appointed to the federal Community Development Advisory Board
Narayana Kocherlakota: Welcoming Remarks for Conference on the Law and Economics of Indian Country Economic Development
Citi Foundation has awarded the South Dakota Indian Business Alliance $141,000 to support a new statewide entrepreneurship initiative.
Four Ninth District organizations are among 16 Native community development financial institutions (CDFIs) selected to attend The Leadership Journey, a new capacity-building training program from the CDFI Fund.
President's speech, May 1
Chippewa Cree Tribe and State of Montana Sign Historic Agreement - On April 4, 2012, the Chippewa Cree Tribe and the State of Montana entered into a Uniform Commercial Code lien-filing compact designed to facilitate lending and economic development on the Rocky Boy's Reservation.
Leech Lake Band and State of Minnesota Sign Historic Agreement: On October 21, 2011, Leech Lake Tribal Chairman Arthur 'Archie' LaRose (left) and Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie (right) signed a lien-filing agreement designed to facilitate lending and economic development on the Leech Lake reservation.
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Federal Reserve seal

The Past, Present, and Future of the Minneapolis Fed in Indian Country:
Promoting Economic Prosperity in Native Communities
For more than 15 years, the Minneapolis Fed’s Community Development office has worked to promote economic development in Native communities. This slide show describes past, current, and future milestones in our work to assist tribes in their efforts to build thriving economies.

Training materials

Our Early Work in Indian Country: 1993–2002
Building Networks and Knowledge
In the early 1990s, Community Development began reaching out to Native communities in the Ninth District in order to improve our understanding of the financial needs and barriers in Indian Country. Highlights from this period include releasing a video training series about lending in Indian Country and cosponsoring numerous educational and networking events on the subject.

ULC logo The Model Tribal Secured Transactions Act: 2002–2006
Promoting Access to Credit
Community Development served as a key advisor and drafting committee member to the Uniform Law Commission’s Model Tribal Secured Transactions Act initiative. Working with tribal representatives, the ULC developed a comprehensive, culturally appropriate model law that supports secured lending for tribes, tribal consumers, and private sector Native-owned businesses in tribal jurisdictions. Community Development serves as the primary outreach and legal training resource on the MTSTA for tribes and Native organizations across the country. Numerous tribes have adopted the MTSTA, and many others are in the process of reviewing and adapting it for enactment.

Conference poster

Indian Business Conferences: 2006–on
A Focus on the Building Blocks of Economic Development
To date, Community Development has cosponsored nine Indian Business Conferences. These gatherings have brought together tribal representatives, policy and law makers, community development corporations, foundations, academics, elected officials, bankers, and entrepreneurs for discussions that emphasize a focused, “building-block” approach to economic development in Indian Country. This approach recognizes that certain fundamental issues often stand in the way of unleashing the full potential of economic growth in Indian Country. These issues center on governance, legal roadblocks, and an array of infrastructure issues, as well as the necessity of securing adequate financing.

Indian Business Alliance logos

Indian Business Alliances: 2006–on
New Coalitions Help Build the Private Business Sector
As a direct outcome of the Indian Business Conferences, Indian Business Alliances were formed in Montana, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin to promote private Indian business development. The alliances work to maximize and develop resources that encourage and support Indian entrepreneurs in each of these states. Although each of the alliances has a unique mission statement, all have pledged to continue working on the four building blocks of sustainable business development in Indian Country: governance, infrastructure, finance, and resources.

Indian Country model

Business Development in Indian Country Model: 2006
A Strategic Approach to Sustainability
Soon after the launch of the Montana Indian Business Alliance in 2006, Community Development created an illustrated strategy to frame the stated objectives and work of the MIBA. This strategic framework has since been adopted by the other Indian Business Alliances, which enables them all to effectively leverage resources, share and cross-pollinate ideas, and collectively strengthen their mission to support entrepreneurship and small business development in Indian Country.

Signing historic agreement

Joint Sovereign UCC Filing Compact: February 2008
Crow Nation and State of Montana Sign Historic Agreement to Facilitate Lending in Indian Country
On February 6, 2008, the Crow Nation and the State of Montana signed a historic UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) lien-filing compact to facilitate lending and economic development on the Crow Reservation. The occasion was the final step in the Crow Nation’s enactment of the MTSTA. The compact, which Community Development helped facilitate, has the potential to encourage more lenders to do business in Crow communities while upholding principles of tribal sovereignty.

Since the signing, the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation has entered into a similar compact with the State of South Dakota, and other tribes are in the process of working with their respective states on comparable arrangements.

Land

Model Tribal Probate Code: 2009–on
Removing Barriers to the Use of Value in Trust Land
Community Development is continuing its partnership with the Uniform Law Commission to build legal infrastructure in Indian Country that will promote access to credit. Barriers to utilizing the value represented in tribal trust and restricted lands for collateral or other similar purposes are extensive, in particular the fractionalization of trust land interests and the associated federal management of these lands. The ULC, Community Development, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and representatives from Indian Country and national Native organizations are embarking on an initiative to draft a Model Tribal Probate Code that will reduce the significant issue of fractionalization of trust land interests.

Tipi being built on open land

Indian Country Business Environment Research: 2011–on
Our Next Step
Community Development has launched a multi-year research initiative to study the links between tribal business environment factors, especially commercial laws and tribal court systems, and business and economic outcomes. The intent of the project is to identify policy issues and potential solutions for consideration by policy makers, as well as to inform ongoing and future studies of development in Indian Country and other emerging economies.

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Our model

Our Model for Business Development in Indian Country A Visual Representation of Our Strategic Approach to Sustainability

Created by the Community Development Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Our model - governance

Step 1: Build a foundation of good governance Implement the separation of tribal government and business and the separation of governance powers—i.e., independent tribal courts, private-sector-supportive tribal policies, and long-term strategic planning.

Our model - infrastructure

Step 2: Build solid infrastructure for private sector development Build legal infrastructure: e.g., commercial, business, employment, and zoning laws and regulations.

Build physical infrastructure: e.g., zoned business districts and sound road systems, utilities, and telecommunications.

Build human capital infrastructure: e.g., workforce training and development.

Our model - finance

Step 3: Enhance access to business financing Promote the understanding and exploration of new opportunities to enhance Native entrepreneurs’ access to small business capital. Potential sources of capital include commercial credit, loan guarantee programs, community development financial institutions, revolving loan funds, microenterprise funds, equity funds, and individual development accounts.

Our model - resources

Step 4: Attract business development resources to the community Pursue available resources for entrepreneur development, business training, asset building, financial education, mentoring, and technical and marketing assistance.

Economic Development in Native Communities

The Minneapolis Fed’s Community Development Department has been engaged in promoting economic development in Indian Country for more than 15 years. Our emphasis is on helping tribes build governance, infrastructure, financial access, and resources to support sustainable private business development in Native communities. For more on our approach, please explore the Our Model tab in the slide show display above.

We focus our efforts in four primary areas:

  1. Developing Native entrepreneurship and small business ownership and
  2. Broadening access to capital for Native-owned small businesses.

    Community Development is a founding and active partner in Indian Business Alliances that work to promote entrepreneurship and capital access in the Ninth Federal Reserve District’s Native communities. Currently, there are active Indian Business Alliances in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. For more information, visit the Indian Business Alliances tab on this page (above).

  3. Developing tribal legal infrastructure to support business activity.

    In many Native communities, private business development may be hindered because federal laws and procedures governing matters such as lending, commerce, and property ownership are absent or insufficient. Since 2002, Community Development has worked closely with the Uniform Law Commission and tribal representatives on initiatives to help tribes select and build a sound legal infrastructure that can support private business development in Indian Country.

    Highlights:

    Model Tribal Secured Transactions Act. Completed in 2005, the Model Tribal Secured Transactions Act is a flexible, culturally appropriate model law designed to facilitate a type of lending that is crucial for starting and sustaining private businesses. Community Development serves as a national leader for outreach and training on the Model Tribal Secured Transactions Act.

    For further reading:

    For information or technical assistance on tribal legal infrastructure development, contact:

    • Sue Woodrow
      Branch Executive
      Helena Branch, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
      (406) 447-3806
      susan.woodrow@mpls.frb.org

    Model Tribal Probate Code. Community Development serves on a Uniform Law Commission steering committee for the development of draft tribal legislation that will address the significant issue of fractionated trust land—an issue that severely affects the use of land value as collateral in seeking capital. Proposed next steps in the initiative include researching the barriers and potential solutions for freeing up the value held in trust and restricted lands while preserving land ownership, tribal jurisdiction, and tribal sovereignty.

  4. Supporting Native financial education and Native credit counseling initiatives.

    Community Development supports financial education initiatives by working with the Indian Business Alliances and statewide financial education coalitions, such as the Montana Financial Education Coalition; by publishing information on Native financial education; and by hosting educational events.

    For further reading:

    For further information:

Featured Article

Federal Agencies Collaborate to Bring Secured Transactions Law Resources to Indian Country
From The ANA Messenger: The Economic Development Issue, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Native Americans
Winter 2012
Community Development Advisor Sue Woodrow discusses a multiagency partnership that is providing model secured transactions legislation and related training workshops to tribal representatives.

Video

Vice President Richard M. Todd and Community Development Advisor Sue Woodrow discuss the Minneapolis Fed's work in promoting economic development in Indian Country. (Video produced by the Property & Environment Research Center.)

Special Report

Growing Economies in Indian Country: Taking Stock of Progress and Partnerships [off-site PDF]
Published by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
April 2012
A summary report of findings from the 2011 Growing Economies in Indian Country workshop series, which was sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and multiple partner agencies. The series explored challenges, recommendations, and promising efforts for economic development in Native American communities. It culminated in a national Growing Economies in Indian Country summit, held on May 1, 2012, in Washington, D.C.

Testimony

Opportunities and Challenges for Economic Development in Indian Country
Susan M. Woodrow
Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.
November 10, 2011

Community Dividend

Economic development in Indian Country is a frequently explored topic in Community Dividend, the Minneapolis Fed’s quarterly community development newsletter.

Recent Community Dividend articles on Indian Country

First-ever tribal national park planned for Pine Ridge 
April 2014
News and Notes

Making surety bonds a surer thing for Native contractors 
January 2014
Recent changes to a federal insurance-guarantee program could help construction firms in Indian Country and elsewhere do business.

Long-awaited rules require the BIA to "buy Indian"  
October 2013
New rules that implement the Buy Indian Act of 1910 give procurement preferences to Indian-owned businesses.

Federal initiative brings healthy fare to food deserts
April 2013
A collaborative initiative by three federal agencies aims to increase the supply of nutritious foods in urban and rural areas where access to healthy food is low.

Legal settlements in Indian Country prompt revival of Native Financial Education Coalition
April 2013
Settlement payments create critical need to raise awareness in Native communities and protect consumers from scams.

New credit union promotes financial access on Pine Ridge reservation
January 2013
The first-ever federally insured financial institution on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is open for business.

Fiddler appointed to Community Development Advisory Board
January 2013
News and Notes

Three Affiliated Tribes to build oil refinery
January 2013
News and Notes

Spanning the spectrum of Native workforce development
July 2012
Initiatives under way in the Ninth District demonstrate that Native-focused organizations are working to increase work preparedness, education levels, and employment rates in the communities they serve.

Fed releases report on economic development in Indian Country
July 2012
News and Notes

Citi Foundation awards entrepreneurship grant to SDIBA
July 2012
News and Notes


Earlier Community Dividend articles on Indian Country

Mini-banks provide hands-on education in personal finance
April 2012
School-based, student-oriented banking operations teach kids the fundamentals of saving.

Tribal college receives $18.9 million for career training initiative
April 2012
News and Notes

Energizing Native economies: Tribes build corporate governance to spur investment and development
January 2012
Some American Indian tribes are overhauling their corporate governance structures in order to facilitate energy projects and other economic development on tribal lands.

Leech Lake Band and State of Minnesota sign lien-filing agreement
January 2012
A new state-tribal arrangement will facilitate lending to reservation-based businesses.

Native CDFI News
January 2012
News and Notes

Harvest Initiative and Hunkpati Investments: Stirring up economic development on the Crow Creek reservation
October 2011
The story of how residents of the Crow Creek Indian reservation, a prominent businessman, a church congregation, and two young attorneys came to be deeply involved in improving the reservation's economic circumstances.

Native American Credit Counseling initiative aims to bridge the credit gap in Indian Country
October 2011
A certification program created by Rural Dynamics/Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Montana is designed to build credit counseling education and services in Native communities.

Making the New Markets Tax Credit work in Native communities
October 2011
Some Native communities have had success in attracting New Markets Tax Credit investments, despite unique challenges involved in implementing the program in Indian Country.

Recent demographic data reveal effects of economic slowdown in Indian Country
July 2011
New data from the U.S. Census Bureau confirm that economic trends on American Indian reservations in the Ninth District worsened or stagnated during the recent recession.

Standing receives Minority Small Business Champion Award
July 2011
News and Notes

Transportation partnership offers economic hope in north central Montana
January 2011
For many residents of Montana's Hi-Line region, an innovative transit partnership provides the means to pursue an education, commute to work, or access important services.



Articles from Other Minneapolis Fed Publications

Growth by degrees
fedgazette
March 2006
The good news: tribal colleges help develop Indian economies and cultures. The bad news: they face a chronic funding crisis.

Indianpreneurs
fedgazette
March 2006
Small business development holds great promise for American Indian economic progress, but big obstacles remain.



Other Articles and Reports

The Enduring Challenge of Concentrated Poverty in America: Case Studies from Communities Across the U.S.
Published by the Community Affairs Offices of the Federal Reserve System, in Partnership with the Brookings Institution, October 2009
A report exploring the dynamics of poor people living in poor communities, and the policies that will be needed to bring both into the economic mainstream. Featuring a profile of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana.

Secured Transaction Codes: An Important Tool for Tribal Economic and Housing Development
Published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, September 2004
A discussion of how commercial codes are important tools for enabling and supporting tribal economic and housing development by improving access to commercial and consumer credit.

Community Development is a founding member and co-leader of several Indian Business Alliances. These statewide coalitions of tribes, financial institutions, nonprofit organizations, corporations, colleges and universities, and government agencies work to maximize and develop resources that encourage and support Native small business owners and entrepreneurs. Although each alliance has created a unique communication, networking, and initiative platform, all have pledged to continue working on the four building blocks of sustainable business development in Indian Country: governance, infrastructure, finance, and resources. For more on these building blocks, please explore the Our Model tab in the slide show display above.

For more on the objectives and work of the Indian Business Alliances, see Partnering to Diversify and Strengthen Indian Country Economies: Indian Business Alliances, October 2009 [pdf], and visit the sites listed below.

For information or technical assistance on developing an Indian Business Alliance, contact:

Sandy Gerber
Community Development Senior Project Manager
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
(612) 204-5166
sandra.gerber@mpls.frb.org

Active Indian Business Alliances in the Ninth Federal Reserve District:

Minnesota Indian Business Alliance logo

Minnesota Indian Business Alliance

Established 2008

Contact:
Sue Woodrow
Branch Executive
Helena Branch, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
(406) 447-3806
susan.woodrow@mpls.frb.org

Montana Indian Business Alliance logo

Montana Indian Business Alliance

Established 2006

Contact:
Sue Woodrow
Branch Executive
Helena Branch, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
(406) 447-3806
susan.woodrow@mpls.frb.org

North Dakota Indian Business Alliance logo

North Dakota Indian Business Alliance

Established 2012

Contact:
Sue Woodrow
Branch Executive
Helena Branch, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
(406) 447-3806
susan.woodrow@mpls.frb.org

South Dakota Indian Business Alliance logo

South Dakota Indian Business Alliance

Established 2007

Contact:
Sandy Gerber
Community Development Senior Project Manager
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
(612) 204-5166
sandra.gerber@mpls.frb.org

Wisconsin Indian Business Alliance

Established 2013; web site is in development

Contact:
Sandy Gerber
Community Development Senior Project Manager
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
(612) 204-5166
sandra.gerber@mpls.frb.org

Upcoming Indian Country Events

National American Indian Housing Council Annual Convention 2014
June 3-5, 2014
Kansas City, MO

The 40th annual convention of the National American Indian Housing Council will feature workshops, trainings, roundtables, and other opportunities to network and learn about building stronger communities together.

Registration and additional information

Claiming Our Rights and Strengthening Our Governance
National Congress of American Indians Mid-Year Conference & Marketplace
June 8-11
Anchorage, AK

This gathering of tribal leaders, community members, government officials, and policymakers will feature a Tribal Leader/Scholar Forum, a tradeshow, and cultural events.

Registration and additional information

Economic Development and Procurement Conference
August 5-7, 2014
Billings, MT

Save the date for this annual gathering, which will feature a trade show and vendor-supplier matchmaking. Sponsored by the Native American Development Corporation (NADC). Further information will be posted on the NADC's web site.

Past Indian Country Events

Indian Country Currents: Materials from Past Events

More Community Development Events

For a listing of general Community Development events from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, visit our Community Development Events page.

Additional resources can be found on our Indian Country Currents: Materials from Past Events page.

Tribal Legal Infrastructure

Training materials, model laws, and other resources related to building sound laws and legal systems that can support private business development in Indian Country. (For more on the connection between economic development and tribal legal infrastructure, see the About tab.)

Tribal Commercial Code Training Webinar

Presented by First Nations Oweesta and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, April 27–28, 2011. Developed for Oweesta’s technical assistance clients, this webinar is designed to help CDFIs, community-based organizations, microenterprise development organizations, and other lenders working with Native communities better understand how to strengthen the legal infrastructure in Indian Country through the development of a commercial code.

Presenter:
Sue Woodrow, Community Development Project Manager, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis—Helena Branch

Moderator:
Kellie Jewett, Associate Director of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development, Oweesta

Webinar slides [pdf]

Model Tribal Secured Transactions Act

Developed by the Uniform Law Commission, in collaboration with tribal representatives, the Model Tribal Secured Transactions Act is a flexible, culturally appropriate model law designed to facilitate a type of lending that is crucial for starting and sustaining private businesses. The Uniform Law Commission’s Model Tribal Secured Transactions Act page features links to the model act, the accompanying Implementation Guide, and related resources.



Indian Country Data

Data releases, analyses, and other resources on socioeconomic and demographic trends in Indian Country.

 

Indian Country - definition