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Lac Vieux Desert Band relies on revenue from lending business

The Lac Vieux Desert Band landed on the front page of The Washington Post homepage earlier today.

The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Michigan depends on revenues from its controversial Internet lending operation.

According to The Washington Post, 42 percent of the tribe's budget comes from the loan business. In addition to providing jobs, the money supports health, education, per capita payments and other programs on the reservation.

But the tribe is facing threats from state and federal regulators who say the operation takes advantage of consumers. According to the Post, the loans come with annualized interest rates of 780 percent, far higher than what's allowed outside of Indian Country.

“I can’t make a moral judgment on what a tribal government decides to do,” Barry Brandon, the past executive director of the Native American Financial Services Association, told the paper. “Does it surprise me? No, not at all, because I understand how tribal sovereignty works and how difficult it is for tribes to find businesses that provide any kind of revenue. If anything, a tribe is best-suited to deliver that [loan] product, given that they fully understand both the pros and cons.”

The tribe's business is running at "capacity," an executive said.

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Indian tribes gambling on high-interest loans to raise revenue (The Washington Post 3/2)

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