Tribal Lending Enterprise

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A Tribal Lending Enterprise (TLE) is a type of American financial services and lending organization owned and operated by a federally-recognized Native American tribal government. Native American tribal governments have established TLEs to further expand their business portfolios beyond traditional industries associated with tribal economies, such as gaming, payday lending, natural resources, and government contracting. Native American tribal lending is often operated through an online hub, based on sovereign tribal land, and offering loans to consumers (government-to-consumer lending).[1][2]


Native American tribes have diversified revenue streams[when?] in internet-based consumer lending through tribal lending enterprises that are often financed by a third (outside) party. As arms of the tribe, tribal lending entities benefit from the tribes' sovereign immunity in relation to state-based consumer lending regulation; "as nations that predate the Constitution and the United States, tribal nations can generally operate in licensed environments independent of state regulation."[3]


Some critics of short-term lending have alleged that American Indian tribes do not benefit from their lending businesses, and that the businesses are a loophole allowing "payday lending firms affiliating with Native American tribes and taking advantage of tribal sovereignty to offer loans online that would otherwise be blocked by many US state laws."[4] Leaders in American Indian tribal lending have rejected these allegations of their tribes being "rented" for private parties for profit at the expense of tribal members. Many have stated that this is "offensive to all Native Americans".[5] Some members of Congress have agreed, and in 2013, a letter signed by 31 congressmen and women opposed a federal crackdown on tribal lenders.[6] Multiple court cases have also reinforced tribes' ability to operate these businesses.[7] Many tribes have made the strategic business decision to outsource which has created a peak for tribe gaming as of 2018. Because of this, online tribal lending has become a key economic tool for American Indian Tribes.[8]


Examples of Tribal Lending Enterprises include the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians, Plain Green Loans, Chippewa Cree and others.


  1. ^ "A Fight Between Native American Lenders And The Government Could Reach The Supreme Court".
  2. ^ "CFPB's Mulvaney shows lighter touch with tribal lenders".
  3. ^ Clarkson, Gavin; Spilde, Katherine A.; Claw, Carma (1 March 2016). "Online Sovereignty: The Law and Economics of Tribal Electronic Commerce". SSRN 2740181. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ Javers, Eamon (17 September 2012). "How Some Payday Lenders Charge Over 700% on Loans".
  5. ^ "Statement by Barry Brandon, Executive Director, NAFSA - Native American Financial Services Association".
  6. ^ "31 Members of Congress Blast Fed's Crackdown on Online Lending - Indian Country Media Network".
  7. ^ "Court blocks Colorado AG from investigating tribes' online payday loans". 17 February 2012.
  8. ^ "Respect Indian Country, Retire 'Rent-a-Tribe'". 28 August 2018.