Community Dividend

Community Affairs Officer's note - Summer 1998

Community Affairs Officer's note - Summer 1998

JoAnne Lewellen | Community Affairs Officer

Published July 1, 1998  | July 1998 issue

This issue of Community Dividendis the second of two addressing community development in Indian Country. Here we focus on economic development and the opportunities for and challenges to lender participation in these communities.

First, Patrick Borunda advances the thesis that banks have an unprecedented opportunity to participate in and profit from the recent growth in Indian-owned businesses throughout the nation. Borunda is executive director of ONABEN—A Native American Business Network, a Portland-based Native American business network serving the Pacific Northwest. He also is a member of the board of directors of the Portland branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Next, two authors discuss the tribal legal infrastructure needed to support the type of boom in economic activity Borunda describes. One discusses tribal sovereign immunity and what it means for bankers entering into commercial relationships with tribes. This article is written by Susan Woodrow, senior counsel at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. The other, written by Maylinn Smith, director of the Indian Law Clinic of the University of Montana's School of Law, discusses a recent initiative that resulted in drafting a model secured transaction law for Montana and Wyoming reservations.

Finally, we report on Federal Reserve Board Governor Laurence H. Meyer's recent visit to Minnesota's Mille Lacs and Fond du Lac Indian reservations. Guided by the Reserve Bank's Karen Grandstrand, Banking Supervision vice president; Margaret Tyndall, Community Affairs manager; and me, Governor Meyer saw and heard about the economic development initiatives of two tribes that have benefited from profitable casino operations.

To provide Governor Meyer a broader perspective of the Ninth District reservations not visited, we also discussed with him those Indian communities in remote locations, those who have not shared in the advantages of sizable casino revenues and those who still struggle to provide the basics of life for their tribal members.

It is part of our mission to help people understand the value and complexity of economic development in Indian Country. We hope you find this issue informative and useful in your work.