There are frameworks that have been put in place like the five Cs of credit, without input or without thinking about this complicated trust land status. So, what that is, is basically there’s several land statuses on reservations, including tribal trust land, which is held in trust by the federal government for individual tribes, and then there are individual trust lands. So, as an individual citizen of a tribe, I can hold trust land on within the reservation boundaries.
And so, if I’m seeking home ownership, they make it very difficult for me to leverage the land that I’m standing on, the five acres that I’m standing on, as collateral for financial institutions. At this point in my 10-year career in financial world, I just feel like the conversation has stopped happening. People have refused to innovate within the space. There are 56 million acres of trust land in the United States. And it’s frustrating to me that we’ve put so many regulations on financial institutions that they are unable to think around this problem.
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It’s literally like, your brain is a malleable instrument, right? Even language. There’s a certain window of opportunity for you to learn language. I feel like in the financial institutions—you know, at the age of seven, technically, if you’re a feral child and you’ve never been exposed to language, there’s a window that closes and you’re unable to learn language after the age of seven—I sort of feel like that’s what’s happened with our financial institutions. As we’ve been colonized and we’ve rebuilt ourselves into these nations, the window of opportunity has closed for us to co-create financial products with financial institutions for trust land. And I think that was done on purpose, truthfully.
I think there are a lot of solutions in this space. And it looks like the government coming in and helping out with that; financial institutions and corporations helping us co-create products; and us sitting in these seats, with the perception: “We know our communities. We know how to do this. We’ve got these great tools here. We know how to reach our populations. We just need the capital to come our way and we can get you what you need.”
It’s kind of like nobody likes the person that says the fake problem exists. Instead, you know, white institutions have sought narratives which confirm their anxieties exist, which is risk. They’ve confirmed that there’s risk within our markets, because we don’t fit their framework of the five Cs. And it’s just a constant narrative that’s repeated over and over. And we’re standing up as leaders within our spaces, saying there’s a different way to look at our world and our markets, and there’s lots of opportunity here. You’re just missing out on it.