-Congressional Delegations from Great Plains Region Urged to Take Action and Protect Tribal Rights-
WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As state and federal authorities across the country overstep their legal boundaries and infringe on Native Americans' status as sovereign entities, tribes are speaking up in support of their rights, including the ability to operate legal, licensed online lending businesses that benefit their tribal governments.
This week, the latest Native American group to weigh in was the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association (GPTCA), which passed a resolution calling on the Congressional delegations from states within the Great Plains Region to stand with Indian country in fighting on Native Americans' behalf. This comes after last month's actions by the New York Department of Financial Services, which has interfered with tribes' abilities to operate legal online lending businesses pursuant to tribal law.
GPTCA's resolution was welcomed by the Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA), whose members include tribes operating online lending enterprises that have contributed significantly to tribal economic development.
"We are pleased to have the GPTCA and their members join us in opposing and fighting the actions undertaken by these overzealous regulators," said Barry Brandon, Executive Director of NAFSA. "This resolution is further proof that Indian country is gravely concerned with the attacks that the State of New York has made on our tribal sovereignty. We will not sit idly by while our very old and highly respected rights are supplanted."
The GPTCA is made up of the 16 Tribal Chairmen, Presidents, and Chairpersons in the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. The Tribal Leaders of the Sovereign Indian Nations meet quarterly to take action on various matters affecting the Tribes. The primary purpose of the GPTCA is to unify to defend the Tribes' inherent rights under Treaties, promote the welfare of Native Americans, take up matters affecting the Tribes, and protect sovereignty.
The resolution was enacted at the GPTCA meeting on September 6. The full text of the resolution is below.
GREAT PLAINS TRIBAL CHAIRMAN'S ASSOCIATION (GPTCA)
WHEREAS, The Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association (GPTCA) is composed of the elected Chairs and Presidents of the 16 Sovereign Indian Tribes and Nations recognized by Treaties with the United States that are within the Great Plains Region of the Bureau of Indian Affairs; and
WHEREAS, The Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association was formed to promote the common interests of the Sovereign Tribes and Nations and their members of the Great Plains Region which comprises the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska; and
WHEREAS, The United States has obligated itself both through Treaties entered into with the sovereign Tribes and Nations of the Great Plains Region and through its own federal statutes, the Snyder Act of 1921 as amended, the Indian Self-Determination Act of 1976 as amended, and the Indian Health Care Improvement Act of 1976 as amended; and
WHEREAS, Indian Tribes are governments that pre-date the United States, and through the Indian Commerce, Treaty, and Apportionment Clauses and the 14th Amendment, the United States recognizes the status of Indian tribes as sovereigns and the status of American Indians as tribal citizens; and
WHEREAS, In treaties, the United States pledged to protect Indian Tribes, guaranteed the right of Tribal self-government, and has undertaken a trust responsibility to promote the viability of Indian reservations and lands as permanent homelands for tribes; and
WHEREAS, On September 6, 2013, the Tribal Chairmen and the Tribal Council representatives from the Tribal Nations that are members of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association are meeting in Bismarck, North Dakota, discussing issues of great importance to the Indian Tribal Nations of the Great Plains Region and their members; and
WHEREAS, as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, otherwise known as sequestration, Congress specifically exempted many programs that benefit low-income Americans, including Medicaid, tax credits for working families and food stamps, but exempted virtually none of the programs aiding American Indians — including money spent through the departments of interior, education, health and human services and agriculture; and
WHEREAS, the State of New York and the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) Administrator Benjamin Lawsky unlawfully attempted to intimidate Native American Tribes and encroach upon their Tribal Sovereignty by attempting to disrupt commerce with tribally owned financial services businesses; and
WHEREAS, The Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association insists on appearing before any Congressional Committees, Federal Boards or Regulatory Officials if new or revised regulations are being considered for the short term lending industry involving Tribally owned financial services businesses; and
WHEREAS, The Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association has the same concerns of other Tribes with reports that the DOJ and FDIC are intimidating some community banks and third party payment processors with threats of heightened regulatory scrutiny unless they cease doing business with online Tribal lenders. As a result, many banks and payment processors are terminating relationships with many of their long-term customers who provide underserved consumers with short-term credit options; and,
WHEREAS, The Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association recognizes the Honorable United States Attorney General Eric Holder as an individual who understands and defends Tribes' inherent sovereignty; and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, The Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association hereby supports the Tribal Sovereignty of all Tribes in strongly opposing the actions of the State of New York that threaten every Tribes' sovereignty; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, The Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association respectfully requests that the United States Congressional Delegations from North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska contact the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission and reaffirm their Support for Tribal Sovereignty, confirm that they do not support the efforts by the State of New York or any other entity to encroach upon Tribal Sovereignty, and remind Federal Agencies to abide by Presidential Executive Orders requiring consultation; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, The Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association respectfully requests that the United States Congressional Delegations from North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska confirm and clarify that no Federal Agency is bringing direct or indirect pressure upon banks to end their business relationships with Tribal Governments; and,
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, The Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association reserves the sovereign rights of Tribes who are members Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association to develop their economy including entering the short term loan industry and will support all Tribes ensuring their Treaties and Sovereignty remain intact as our Treaties intended.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that this resolution shall be the policy of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association until otherwise amended or rescinded or until the goal of this Resolution has been accomplished.
The Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA) formed in 2012 to advocate for Native American sovereign rights and enable tribes to offer responsible online lending products. Through the protection of consumer rights and sovereign immunity, NAFSA provides vital services to tribally operated lenders serving the under-banked with better short term financial services, furthering economic development opportunities in Indian Country.