Stop the Senate Banking Committee from Interfering with Tribal Sovereignty
In a bold affront to tribal sovereignty and a setback to unprecedented economic development in Indian Country, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has introduced the SAFE Act (Stopping Abuse and Fraud in Electronic Lending Act of 2012). This legislation would result in the loss of billions of dollars in sorely-needed tribal revenue. After decades of stunted economic growth, eCommerce has proven to be a financial lifeline for tribes who struggle with overwhelming poverty and a lack of access to the financial opportunities afforded to other Americans.
Senator Merkley's introduction of this Bill refers to Native Americans engaging in e-commerce only as 'rogues,' which is both politically insensitive as well as a shocking betrayal to the Native American community — traditionally staunch supporters of the Democratic Party.
NAFSA Executive Director Barry Brandon, a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, spoke out on the proposed legislation, saying “This legislation demonstrates the complete lack of understanding and respect that should be afforded to tribal government entities.”
To put a stop to this federal intrusion into tribal sovereignty, NAFSA encourages all tribal members — and like-minded constituents — to contact their respective members of Congress to express their concern about the abrogation of sovereign rights provided to Native American tribes under treaties with the United States.
Dear [Your Senators]
I am a concerned citizen writing to express my concern about the careless revocation of sovereign rights provided to Native American tribes under treaties with the United States. I hereby denounce the Stopping Abuse and Fraud in Electronic Lending Act of 2012 (S.3426), as it will stifle innovation and further isolate tribes that have suffered from more than 250 years of oppression. Internet Commerce provides a financial lifeline for tribes who struggle every day with overwhelming poverty and a lack of access to the financial opportunities afforded to other Americans.
The Consumer Federation of America has stated that the dollar value of storefront lending has decreased, but the online sector has been growing. In a time of economic turmoil, I urge you to grow the job force instead of building a virtual wall that would prohibit tribes from sharing in the 21st Century economy.
Again, I would like to thank you for taking action on this very important issue. By eliminating this potential legislation, we are saving tribal governments billions of dollars, preventing the loss of thousands of jobs, and maintaining a longstanding treaty that recognizes tribal nations as able to govern themselves within the borders of the United States of America. I look forward to seeing how the Senate improves its plans to protect our sovereign rights.