“Recent media reports regarding a federal indictment in Pennsylvania have highlighted allegations of a Native American Tribal Government ‘pretending’ to operate a business. Without commenting on the specifics of any particular case, we feel compelled to call attention to the fact that NAFSA represents sovereign tribes that own and operate some of the most innovative e-commerce businesses in the country. General insinuations that tribes which are engaged in their own economic development are being ‘rented’ or ‘used’ are false, and offensive to all Native Americans. The entrepreneurs that are part of NAFSA are not pretending to be innovators – they are leading the way with e-commerce products that are helping the unbanked and underbanked. These businesses, operating as arms of Tribal Governments, follow all U.S. federal laws, operate pursuant to tribal lending codes and following industry-leading best practices. They not only fill a critical financial need for consumers, they are contributing to the social welfare of the tribes and their people, who are facing shockingly high levels of unemployment and poverty rates. The government and the media should take better care to avoid painting all Native American economic development efforts with a broad brush when addressing specific individuals, businesses or Tribes. People interested in learning the real story should watch the recently released documentary film An Unlikely Solution, available at http://www.anunlikelysolution.com.”
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