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 visit the Business Development Model page.
We focus our efforts in four primary areas:
- Developing Native entrepreneurship and small business ownership and
- 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).
- 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.
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:
- The Uniform Law Commission’s Model Tribal Secured Transactions Act page features links to the model act, the accompanying Implementation Guide, and related resources.
- A super model: New secured transaction code offers legal uniformity, economic promise for Indian Country
Community Dividend, March 2006
A discussion of how the Model Tribal Secured Transactions Act could provide the legal structure and consistency American Indian tribes need to facilitate borrowing from off-reservation partners or other tribes.
- 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.
For information or technical assistance on tribal legal infrastructure development, contact:
- Sue Woodrow
Helena Branch, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
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.
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:
- Menominee poster contest promotes free tax prep
Since 2005, Menominee Indian High School has sponsored a poster contest to promote the use of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites.
- Workshop promotes Native youth financial education
The presentations from a Fed-sponsored workshop illustrate a variety of promising approaches to Native financial education.
- Lessons learned from a financial education pilot for Native youth
A pilot program at Oh Day Aki Charter School in Minneapolis shows that standard financial education materials can be adapted to benefit Native students in an urban setting.
For further information: