OCC Finds Education Key to Lending on Indian Reservations

Article excerpt

Would the Blackpipe and Gordon fair-lending cases have been avoided through mutual education -- bankers teaching tribal members about finance and tribes working to familiarize bankers with the way things work on reservations?

Possibly a better understanding might have resulted. "Providing Financial Services to Native Americans in Indian Country," a new report from the Comptroller's Office, concludes that education for bankers, tribes, and tribal members is a critical step to building business relationships and meeting the financial needs of Native American communities.

"Some Native Americans living in Indian country may be unfamiliar with traditional bank products and services. Additionally, their knowledge of personal financial management techniques may be limited or dated in view of the variety of products and services in today's market," the report stated.

On the other hand, according to the report, "many banks are unfamiliar with tribal cultures and may not know how best to meet tribal financial product and service needs. ... Increased awareness of tribal culture, rules, and regulations prescribed in tribal codes, the needs of the Indian community, and the financial sophistication of the tribal members and tribal governments enable banks to establish good working relationships with the tribal communities in their trade areas. …