Updated: Feb 4
The easiest way to invest in the prosperity of Tribal Nations
There’s a myth that most Native American communities and reservations are doing well thanks to popular casinos which bring wealth to the area. While this might be true for a few areas, most tribes are dramatically impoverished, with some tribes reporting unemployment as high as 85%. This is because Many Native American communities are isolated, both geographically and technologically, which presents challenges when it comes to modern banking. Most American Indians keep their money in cash, as they must drive hours to the nearest bank, but lack of access to technology makes online banking difficult as well.
To address those realities, Native American Bank was launched in 2001 to get financial capital and services to more Native Americans. The bank’s mission is to collectivize capital in Indian country to invest in projects that will help Native communities and reservations become economically independent. Their focus is contributing to businesses and organizations which will contribute to the economic development of Indian country. 30 out of the 33 owners of the bank are Tribal Nations, Tribal Enterprises, and Alaska Native corporations. Their main branch is in Denver, with two other offices located in Browning and Box Elder, Montana. They also offer free ATM services through Money Pass ATMs.
Although we currently don’t know much specifically about their lending portfolio, we do know that most of their lending is commercial. They make credit available to companies majority-owned by Native Americans, as well as companies whose activity they believe positively contributes to the economies of Native communities.
In 2012, they earned an Outstanding CRA rating, and are a certified CDFI. Most notably, they’ve recently started a financial literacy program which provides e-learning on topics such as credit cards, credit score, emergency savings, budgeting, courses for small business owners and more. We would encourage them to expand the availability of their financial literacy courses offline and continue to build branches in areas close to reservations.
We would recommend this bank to anyone looking to invest in American Indian communities, and they offer online banking so this would be possible to anyone regardless of location. For those looking to move their money to this Better Banking Option, check out nabna.com to find out what products they offer and their mission.