Indian Land Capital Company (ILCC), a Native-owned and -managed Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) recently became an associate member of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA), one of the largest and most influential tribal associations in the state and countrywide.
Roscoe, Montana-based ILCC provides flexible loan options to Indian nations for Tribal land acquisition; since its 2005 inception, the company has facilitated over $7 million in loans to tribes in six states that helped to return some 30,000 acres of land to tribal control.
California is home to some 110 federally recognized Indian Nations, each with differing economic, cultural, and social needs and conditions. Some 12 California tribes remain landless with another 28 tribes possessing less than 100 acres of tribal lands and 33 tribes possessing 101 to 1,000 acres. The total tribal trust lands benefiting California tribes is less than 450,000 acres. This diminutive land base is often inadequate to support sustainable land use, especially for a state that boasts nearly three-quarters of a million American Indians—the highest density in the United States and representing 14 percent of the total national Native population.
Many tribes need additional land and economic development to fund infrastructure improvements and offset shrinking federal government funding, especially given that only a handful of California tribes enjoy tribal government gaming revenues large enough to support tribal operations and self-sufficiency. Earlier this year, ILCC negotiated an innovative financial agreement to help the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians of Stewarts Point Rancheria purchase 510 acres of wooded land adjacent to its remote rancheria in Northern California.
Gerald Sherman (Oglala Lakota), ILCC’s President and CEO, sees such structural challenges as an opportunity. “On the one hand, many tribes in the state have little land or resources needed to access traditional financing to support tribal goals and programs. On the other hand, California is also home to some of the most successful and diversified tribes in the nation who we hope will become social investors in ILCC’s loan funds,” said Sherman. “And we see CNIGA as a vital partner in reaching both sets of tribes and creating a model for the rest of the nation for how tribes can work together to strengthen tribal sovereignty.”
Steve Stallings, a tribal council member of the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians who has served as Director of the Native American Banking Services group for Wells Fargo as well as CNIGA’s Vice Chair agrees: “The movement to reclaim tribal lands is critical to the long-term success and sustainability of California tribes,” said Stallings. “That is why I was delighted to nominate ILCC to join CNIGA as a member and partner.”
Sherman will be moderating a panel discussion entitled “Land: Sovereignty and Economic Development” at CNIGA’s annual Western Indian Gaming Conference at the Morongo Casino on February 13th, 2014.