Indian Land Capital Company (ILCC)—a Native Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that helps tribes acquire lands for business development, housing and community-based projects—has been awarded a U.S. Treasury Department CDFI Fund grant of $750,000, which is the Fund’s highest tier financial reward, states a press release.
This is the second year ILCC has been awarded a grant from the CDFI Fund’s Native American CDFI Assistance (NACA) program, which provides technical and financial assistance to Native American tribes, tribal entities and other CDFIs serving Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities. This year, ILCC is among 33 Native CDFIs to receive awards totaling nearly $11.5 million. The grants were recently announced by CDFI Fund Director Donna J. Gambrell and Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary Don Graves.
NACA awards assist financial institutions serving Native communities to increase their lending services and financial products, in addition to building their internal capacity to serve their target markets.
Native CDFIs provide loans at lower cost and with fewer lending barriers than most mainstream financial institutions, allowing tribal borrowers to make quicker financial decisions and retain greater control and flexibility in the financing, acquisition and management of tribal lands.
“This year’s awardees will continue to provide vital financial services in low-income areas that are typically overlooked by traditional lenders, bettering the lives of Americans nationwide,” said Gambrell in a statement.
“Receiving the NACA Award for a second year is a great honor,” said Gerald Sherman (Oglala Lakota), ILCC’s president and CEO. “The award will help ILCC to scale up our loans for tribal land recovery and address long-standing fractionalization issues.”
According to ILCC, the receipt of the grant at this particular time is significant because 2012 marks the 125th anniversary of the General Allotment Act of 1887 (Dawes Act) that lead to 90 million acres of Indian land (roughly two-thirds of the total Indian land base) being taken out of Indian ownership and control. Much of Indian Country remains fractionalized and tribal land is being acquired in all 50 states.
“This will support local efforts to create good-paying jobs throughout Indian Country,” said Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus, a long-time supporter of CDFIs. “These resources will help Montana tribes and tribes across the nation better attract business and follow through with an economic development vision for future generations.”
ILCC was created in 2005 as a collaborative effort between the Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) of Little Canada, Minnesota, and the Native American Community Development Corporation (NACDC) of Browning, Montana, to bridge the gap in lending to tribes and to facilitate the acquisition of Indian lands for social, cultural, and economic purposes. Pioneering Indian land and economic leaders Cris Stainbrook (Oglala Lakota) and the late Elouise Cobell (Blackfeet) were ILCC founding directors.
To date, ILCC has raised $7.5 million in funds from socially-conscious investment sources including ILTF, Ford Foundation, CDFI Fund, Wells Fargo, Otto Bremer Foundations, First Nations Oweesta Corporation, individual tribes, and others. In June 2012, ILCC received a $1 million low-cost loan from Bank of America to help tribes acquire lands for business development, housing and community–based projects.
ILCC has made approximately $6.3 million in loans to Indian nations and entities, and has assisted in the recovery of nearly 30,000 acres of tribal land in Washington State, Montana, Minnesota, and California. Projects made possible through ILCC financing have included expansion of a health care facility, construction of homes for tribal members, sustainable forest management, wetland restoration, agriculture/ranching, and protection of sacred and cultural sites.
ILCC’s long-term goal is to substantially increase its loan pool and its capacity to make more and larger loans. In 2011, ILCC launched a campaign to raise $4 million in the first year with the goal of building a $100 million investment fund for Indian Country over the next 10 years.