Native American Groups Applaud California Court Decision Supporting Tribal Sovereign Immunity
WASHINGTON, May 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Both the Native American Lending Alliance (NALA) and the Native American Fair Commerce Coalition (NAFCC) applaud the Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles for ruling in favor of the protection of Native American sovereign rights. The court ruled in favor of Ameriloan over the California Department of Corporations in their unlawful attempt to assert jurisdiction over tribally operated businesses. This decision is consistent with the recent Colorado court decision which also upheld absolute tribal sovereignty.
“Clearly the tide of judicial opinion in the United States is in favor of respecting the sovereign rights of Native Americans, which is based upon 250 years of federal Indian law jurisprudence,” said Bruce Sunchild, Chairman of the Chippewa Cree Tribe, and a board member of the Native American Lending Alliance. “E-commerce has opened opportunities for tribes across the nation to generate revenue to support our people and generations to come.”
Indian Country has been disproportionately impacted by the recent economic downturn. It is estimated that many tribes have unemployment rates soaring to 50 and even 70%. Many tribes are unable to generate revenue through gaming or tourism, due to being in a remote location. However, e-commerce initiatives have the power to break down geographical barriers and provide some of the most economically challenged tribes with the opportunity to generate revenue.
“The Native American Fair Commerce Coalition (NAFCC) and the Native American Lending Alliance (NALA) were founded to protect both the tribes’ sovereignty as well as provide the best product to our consumers. For this reason, both NALA and the NAFCC have created a self-regulatory model demanding that our member tribes adhere to best practices that protect both the lender and the consumer,” said Barry Brandon, Executive Director of the NAFCC. “This decision further codifies that sovereign immunity extends to off-reservation, for-profit commercial activities, so long as the entity engaged in the off-reservation activity is an arm of the tribe–created by the tribal council with supporting tribal laws, as is required by NALA best practices.”
The text of the decision states that: “Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine distinct from tribal sovereignty and is not dependent upon finding that federal law preempts a state regulation.” The decision goes further to articulate that: “A Native American Indian Tribe is subject to suit only where authorized by Congress or where the tribe has clearly waived its sovereign immunity.” Finally, the decision expresses the absolute nature of tribal sovereignty: “An Indian Tribe’s sovereign nation status confers an absolute immunity from suit in federal or state court, absent an express waiver of that immunity or congressional authorization to sue.”
The California court decision is similar to the February 14, 2012 ruling in Colorado vs. Cash Advance which also upheld absolute sovereign immunity. The Colorado decision included particularly strong language supporting absolute sovereign immunity for tribes to engage in commerce using the Internet: “[T]ribal immunity knows no territorial bounds.” The decision goes on to state: “[T]ribal immunity applies to a tribe’s governmental and commercial activities alike…[n]ot only has every federal court of appeals addressing this issue so concluded, but the United States itself has also conceded that a tribe does not lose its immunity simply by engaging in a business through a corporate entity.
The Native American Lending Alliance (NALA) formed in 2011 to protect Native American sovereign rights and enable responsible financial alternatives designed to meet the consumer needs with transparency, value and convenience. NALA protects consumers’ rights with best practices that ensure these guiding principles are respected. Offering on-line financial services presents a tremendous opportunity for Native Americans to improve the welfare of their tribes. Through NALA unity is brought to a movement guaranteed to generate opportunities, jobs, and development on tribal lands as well as provide valuable and needed financial services.
The Native American Fair Commerce Coalition (NAFCC) is a representative organization comprised of like-minded tribes and tribal members that are committed to protecting the sovereign rights – well settled in U.S. law – of Native Americans to pursue business and economic opportunities for their tribes nationwide. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the NAFCC is more than 10,000 individual members and represents Native American tribes nationwide.
For more information or to interview a member of NALA, please contact Dan Rene of Levick Strategic Communications at 202-973-1325 or email@example.com.
CONTACT: Dan Rene
SOURCE Native American Lending Alliance