Tribes Involved in Native American Defense of Sovereign Rights Obtain a Court Order to Expedite the Case

Posted by on Aug 26, 2013 in Press Release | 0 comments

WASHINGTON, DC (August 26, 2013) – In a new development in Otoe-Missouria Tribe, et al. v. N.Y. State Department of Financial Services, et al., where two  federally-recognized Native American tribes are suing the Department and its Superintendent  Benjamin Lawsky to bar their  effort to control the tribes’ consumer lending activities, the Hon. Richard J. Sullivan (United States District Judge for the United States District Court Southern District of New York) has issued an Order to Show Cause that will expedite prosecution of the case.

Under the Order, the Defendants must respond by Friday, August 30, 2013 to the Tribes’ motion for a preliminary injunction. The injunction would prevent Mr. Lawsky from purporting to pursue and actually pursuing any state regulatory or enforcement actions over tribal consumer lending businesses, including the related activities of financial institutions, payment processors, and financial services associations. The hearing on the motion is set for September 11, 2013.

“Superintendent Lawsky and the Department have taken it upon themselves – without any Congressional mandate and with utter disregard to the tribes’ constitutionally preserved sovereign rights – to reach across the country and assume regulatory control over tribal businesses that are vital to Native Americans’ wellbeing. Their campaign has so far met with unfortunate success, as the banks and other service providers to the tribes have responded to the Department’s threats,” said David Bernick, Counsel of Record for the Tribes. “The Court’s Order to Show Cause has expedited litigation of our request for a preliminary injunction. If granted, the injunction would open the door for our business partners to come back and continue to service our legally-owned, operated, and regulated tribal lending businesses.”

“If Mr. Lawsky is allowed to stall this case and run out the clock, our tribal governments will be devastated,” said Barry Brandon, executive director of the Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA). “We look forward to the hearing on September 11 so that he can explain his reasoning for unilaterally imposing the laws of New York in order to nullify our constitutionally preserved sovereign rights.”

Brandon continued, “Without banking relationships and business partners, the Tribes’ legitimate e-commerce businesses will be destroyed. For some tribes, lending business revenues constitute more than 25% of the tribes’ funding for governmental operations. Without this funding, tribes also cannot fund essential services, such as education, health care, elder care, and justice operations.”


The Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA) formed in 2012 to advocate for Native American sovereign rights and enable tribes to offer responsible online lending products. Through the protection of consumer rights and sovereign immunity, NAFSA provides vital services to tribally operated lenders serving the under-banked with better short term financial services, furthering economic development opportunities in Indian Country.

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