Senate Indian Affairs Committee takes up economic development

Louis Young set up his Arrow Barber Shop with a loan from Lakota Funds. Photo from Lakota Funds

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee is focusing on economic development issues this week.

The committee will hold a listening session tomorrow on the Buy Indian Act. The 1910 law requires the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service to give preference to tribally- and Indian-owned businesses in procurement matters but regulations weren't finalized until June 2013.

The committee also will focus on community development financial institutions, commonly known as CDFIs. Organizations like Lakota Funds in South Dakota and Native American Community Development Corporation in Montana provide loans, grants and financial services to Indian entrepreneurs who are typically unable to secure capital from traditional sources like commercial banks.

"Representatives from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service, and the Department of the Treasury will be present to answer questions on their respective programs," the committee said in a media advisory.

Members of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee listen to testimony at a June 10, 2015, hearing. Photo by SCIA / Flickr

The session will take place tomorrow at 2:45pm in Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building. It will not be webcast.

The committee will expand on access to capital issues at an oversight hearing on Wednesday at 2:15pm in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Witnesses include Derrick Watchman, the chairman of the board of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development.

"The National Center is pleased Chairman Watchman will be able to shed light on the challenges Native businesses face to the people who craft national policy," Gary Davis, the president and CEO of NCAIED, said in a press release.

The full witness follows:
Ms. Alejandra Castillo
National Director, Minority Business Development Agency, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Derrick Watchman
Chairman, Board of Directors, National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, Mesa, AZ

Mr. Ross Hill
CEO, Bank2, Oklahoma City, OK

Mr. Dante Desiderio
Executive Director, Native American Finance Officers Association, Washington, D.C.

Committee Notices:
Listening Session on "Buy Indian Act and Community Development Financial Institutions" (July 16, 2015)
Oversight Hearing on "Accessing Capital in Indian Country" (July 17, 2015)

Federal Register Notice:
Acquisition Regulations; Buy Indian Act; Procedures for Contracting (June 7, 2013)

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