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Tribes Back Investment Fund To Safeguard Land

ROSCOE, MT - ILCC, a leader in tribal land funding and acquisition, announces new financial instruments and technical assistance for the roughly 565 federally recognized Native American tribes. ILCC is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) backed by tribal leaders and social investment groups to provide innovative banking products and services for Native nations to reclaim financial, operational, and jurisdictional control over their land.

In 2011, ILCC plans to raise a $4 million investment fund from mainly tribal sources towards building a $100 million investment fund for Indian Country over the next ten years. The organization’s goal is to combine Native values and resources to empower economic and cultural transformation across Indian Country.

“It may take several decades, but Indian people are patient and working together we can make a difference. We are investing for future generations,” says Native banking expert Gerald Sherman (Oglala Lakota), ILCC’s President and CEO. Pioneering Indian land and economic leaders Cris Stainbrook (Oglala Lakota) and Elouise Cobell (Blackfeet) are ILCC founding directors.

“This is a new paradigm for Indian Country: Indian people creating Indian solutions using Indian resources. We’re taking our own destinies back and not looking for answers from others,” agrees Bill Lomax, an American Indian investment professional and President of the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA).

In the past, a lack of financing has often limited tribes’ ability to purchase land and other crucial resources necessary for meaningful economic development, self-sufficiency, and self-determination. As a CDFI, ILCC provides loans at lower cost and with fewer lending barriers than traditional mainstream financial institutions. This allows tribal borrowers to act quickly and retain greater control and flexibility in the financing, acquisition and management of tribal lands.

ILCC provides another benefit to Indian Country: tribal investors can earn a return on social investing – in other words “do good while doing well.” Tribal lending for land acquisition represents sound financial management and sustainable development for Indian Country. “ILCC provides sustainable investment products for tribes with resources at their disposal to help other tribes regain ownership and control over lost tribal lands. This strengthens tribal sovereignty for all tribes. Giving strength to one tribe strengthens all Native communities,” says Sherman.

ILCC loan capital currently comes from Native organizations, foundations, and banks including The Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF), Oweesta Corporation, Snoqualmie Indian Tribe of Washington, and the Ford Foundation. ILCC plans to target additional Native investment sources, including tribal-government gaming, to enhance the circle of indigenous lending.

Although treaties with American Indian tribes hold the legal bearing of the U.S. Constitution, nearly 80 million acres of land granted to tribes have been lost over the years. Regained land is fundamental to Indian cultural, social and economic progress as it can be used for business purposes, housing, agriculture, ceremonial purposes, or left as open space. “This is an important step towards Indian self-sufficiency and community development. Tribal land is the heart and soul of Indian identity, culture, and well being,’ says Sherman.

ILCC loans have already helped tribes purchase roughly 7,000 acres. In 2007, ILCC provided the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe a $1.2 million loan to purchase land for a community health center and tribal offices. “ILCC provided us with a loan that allowed us to begin to secure additional aboriginal land in the Snoqualmie Valley, ahead of speculators, prior to the Tribe generating any casino revenue, and in a manner that was respectful of tribal sovereignty. This is how financing in Indian Country should be done,” affirms Matt Mattson, Tribal Administrator for the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe.

About ILCC 
ILCC was created in 2005 by the ILTF and Native American Community Development Corporation (NACDC) to support and assist American Indian tribal leaders and tribal governments in recovering reservation land and important off reservation lands, as well as consolidating and more effectively managing lands within reservation boundaries. Prior to starting ILCC, Gerald Sherman was a banker focused on community development and finance on Indian reservations. He was also the founding director of the Lakota Fund, a well-known CDFI and one of the first microfinance funds in the United States. The ILCC model combines capital with Indian ingenuity to transform tribal citizens and communities -- much as the microfinance model changed the lives of millions of low-income borrowers around the globe.


STORY TAGS: Native American News, Indian News, Native News, Minority News, Civil Rights, Discrimination, Racism, Diversity, Racial Equality, Bias, Equality



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