Business | Law | National

Fort Belknap Tribes depend on revenue from Internet lending






The office of American Web Loans in Red Rock, Oklahoma, owned by the Otoe-Missouria Tribe. Photo by Jane Daughtery.

The Fort Belknap Indian Community in Montana operates 11 Internet lending websites, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The lending operation employs 70 people on the reservation. Revenues from the website make up 20 percent of the tribe's income, the Journal said.

"You have generations of family here who have never known what it was like to get up and go to work," Michelle Fox, a tribal member who helped start the operation, told the paper. "For us right now, it's the difference between survival and non-survival."

The operation, however, faces intense scrutiny from state and federal officials. The tribe's bank, Wells Fargo, cut ties and its payment processor had to stop working with another bank that reached a settlement with the Obama administration.

Fox said revenues have fallen 40 percent as a result.

Get the Story:
Tribes' Online Lending Faces Federal Squeeze (The Wall Street Journal 7/24)

Related Stories:
Barry Brandon: Media gets it wrong yet again on tribal lenders (07/10)
Native Sun News: Payday loan story stirs squabble at Pine Ridge (07/07)
Law Article: Supreme Court decision could impact tribal lenders (07/03)
Al Jazeera: Tribes face scrutiny for Internet lending operations (06/17)
Lawyers dispute effect of Supreme Court case on tribal lenders (06/10)
Group claims Supreme Court ruling affects tribal payday lenders (05/30)