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Casey Lozar Vice President, Director of Center for Indian Country Development

Xest Sxlxalt (Good day)! Thank you to all who support and inform the work the Center for Indian Country Development (CICD) does on behalf of Indian Country.

Today we embark in a new direction and share our updated mission to support the economic prosperity of Native nations through actionable research, policy development, and community collaboration. This mission aligns with our work as a Federal Reserve System resource and the Minneapolis Fed’s pursuit of a growing economy and stable financial system that work for all of us.

Tribes and tribal organizations around the country have long been advocating for policy and administrative change in tribal public finance. Here at CICD, we recognize that the national conversation on equity and inclusion in the financial system has offered a unique window of opportunity to elevate tribal public finance discussions and formalize the fundamental changes tribal leaders have highlighted for decades. To that end, CICD is committed to anchoring our efforts on the components of tribal economic infrastructure that:

  • Add explicit value in Indian Country development;
  • Recognize the inherent sovereignty of tribal nations;
  • Connect to key Indian Country policy levers; and
  • Equip tribal, state, and federal policymakers with information they need to shape policy.

Tribal governments play a critical role in providing the public goods necessary for tribal economic prosperity. Following centuries of harmful federal policies ranging from extermination and removal to assimilation and neglect, tribal self-determination has become the hallmark of federal Indian policy. Self-determination has empowered tribal nations to manage their treasuries and determine their development visions and priorities. However, large economic gaps between Indian Country and the rest of the United States remain.

Our strategic focus areas

Our team has committed to dig deeper into several areas of tribal economies, including the contribution of tribal enterprises and tribal revenues toward public goods and services. Impediments and improvements to tribal tax authority, including tribal-state compacts, Indian Trader Regulations, tribal self-governance compacting, and dual taxation, are areas ripe for analysis. Similarly, the efficacy and advancement of bond financing, loan guarantee programs, and tax credits in Indian Country are areas of interest. We also want to better understand access to capital, credit invisibility, and potential regulatory improvements that could make the Community Reinvestment Act work better for Indian Country. Our research and policy focus areas include long-term, complex challenges as well as emerging opportunities and issues of concern (such as ways to mitigate the pandemic’s effects).

Characteristics of our strategic research areas

Studying problems simply isn’t enough. We know that for CICD’s work to be effective, it must be policy-driven, accessible, consequential, and relevant. We are asking and answering questions that may help unlock the economic potential in Indian Country. We aim to provide policymakers at all levels the data they need to support tribal self-determination and engage in effective and productive government-to-government relationships. Our applied research has clear policy implications and practitioner impacts, and it illuminates important policy concerns.

How are we accomplishing this?

We are engaging tribes and tribal organizations to understand the economic opportunities and financial challenges Indian Country is facing. Our research team is making a targeted contribution to improving the quality of and access to Indian Country data through user-friendly data dashboards; small, applied-research surveys focused on targeted questions; and the establishment of CICD as a public repository for clean, well-documented data. We are analyzing innovative practices and policies. And we are using the convening power of the Federal Reserve and CICD to inform policy.

A special thank you to those who came before us and laid the foundation for our work today. In its first six years, CICD addressed a wide range of projects and topics, including tribal business alliances, legal infrastructure modernization, language-immersion-school effectiveness, tribal homeownership, Native labor market conditions, and COVID-19 pulse surveys.

Our new and growing team of researchers and policy professionals is excited to continue deepening our work in Indian Country economic development. Going forward, CICD will focus on tribal financial barriers and policy solutions so that tribes can equip themselves with the data and resources they need to unlock their full economic potential. We will continue—in partnership with tribal leaders and communities—to be a responsive resource that helps to collectively bring about economic prosperity for tribal nations throughout the United States.

Lem’lmnts (Thank you),

Casey signature
Casey Lozar (Salish Kootenai)
Vice President, Director of Center for Indian Country Development