Historical Foundations of the CICD

Minneapolis Fed Efforts in Indian Country: Past and Future
Watch Sue Woodrow and Patrice Kunesh discuss the Minneapolis Fed’s current Indian Country work and future opportunities available to the new Center for Indian Country Development.

Past, Present, and Future of the Minneapolis Fed in Indian Country: Promoting Economic Prosperity in Native Communities

For more than 20 years, the Minneapolis Fed has worked to promote economic development in Native communities. This timeline describes past, current, and future milestones in our work to assist tribes in their efforts to build thriving economies.

Our Early Work in Indian Country: 1993–2002
Building Networks and Knowledge

In the early 1990s, the Minneapolis Fed 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.

The Model Tribal Secured Transactions Act
Promoting Access to Credit

Since 2002 the Minneapolis Fed served as a key advisor and drafting committee member to the Uniform Law Commission’s Model Tribal Secured Transactions Act (MTSTA) initiative. Working with tribal representatives, the Uniform Law Commission developed a comprehensive, culturally appropriate model law that supports secured lending for tribes, tribal consumers, and private sector Native-owned businesses in tribal jurisdictions. Minneapolis Fed 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.

Indian Business Alliances

Since 2006 the Minneapolis Fed has cosponsored numerous 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.


As direct outcomes of the Indian Business Conferences, Indian Business Alliances have been formed in Montana, Minnesota, North Dakota, 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.

Business Development in Indian Country Model: 2006
A Strategic Approach to Sustainability

Soon after the launch of the first Indian Business Alliance in 2006, the Minneapolis Fed created an illustrated strategy to frame the alliance’s stated objectives and work. 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.

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 the Minneapolis Fed helped facilitate, has the potential to encourage more lenders to do business in Crow communities while upholding principles of tribal sovereignty.

Since the signing, several tribes in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota have entered into similar agreements with their respective states, and other tribes are in the process of working with their respective states on comparable arrangements.

Model Tribal Probate Code
Removing Barriers to the Use of Value in Trust Land

Since 2009 the Minneapolis Fed 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, the American Bar Association, the Minneapolis Fed and representatives from Indian Country, national Native organizations and other partners are embarking on an initiative to draft a Model Tribal Probate Code that will reduce the significant issue of fractionalization of trust land interests.

Indian Country Business Environment Research

Since 2011 Minneapolis Fed 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.