Native American Finance Officers Association
On Wednesday, May 20, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) announced the release of their Final Rule to modernize the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) with an increased focus on promoting capital and investment in Indian Country.
Over the past few years, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency has prioritized modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act’s regulations so it can better serve communities, including Native American communities, that have been left behind. The Native American Finance Officers Association has worked closely with the Office of the Comptroller of Currency to ensure the needs and priorities of tribes and Indian Country as a whole are being met accurately in their efforts to modernize the Act.
In August 2019, the Native American Finance Officers Association and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency hosted a bus tour of Pueblo communities in New Mexico, as well as a community discussion with a group of tribal economic development stakeholders from the government, private, and non-profit sectors. “Visiting tribal lands with Native American Finance Officers Association last year had a profound effect on my understanding of the needs facing Indian Country,” said U.S. Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting. “I deeply appreciate the input and partnership with many tribal leaders and others from the Native American Community throughout the development of this rule, which will make a profound difference for so many.”
In April 2020, the Native American Finance Offcers Association submitted comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that was released on December 12, 2019. Native American Finance Officers Association's comments largely applauded the agency's approach and suggested ways in which the Final Rule could be as inclusive as possible for Native American communities in its definition of “Indian Country.” Native American Finance Officers Association also requested that the Final Rule ensure projects occurring on Native lands actually benefit the Native communities that they purport to serve. These comments are reflected in the Final Rule.
“The future for so many communities throughout Indian Country looks a little brighter today. Indian Country needs an influx of capital, now more than ever, to address some of the longstanding infrastructure and community development challenges that we face,” said Native American Finance Officers Association Board President Cristina Danforth (Oneida Nation). “We are grateful to the Comptroller for recognizing the Community Reinvestment Act’s shortfalls for communities like ours, and undertaking the long process of modernization to remedy them.”
The updated regulations are historic for Indian Country in a few key ways. They provide tribal governments parity with other governments to determine the financial needs of their respective communities. They also encourage innovative partnerships between Indian Country and financial institutions to support community revitalization and development.
Increasing tribal access to banking services and credit will help finance community development by making more funding available for economic development, public safety, housing, infrastructure, and education. These improvements to the Community Reinvestment Act could provide long-term funding for tribal governments and secure access to capital to help tribes sustain thriving communities.
For more information on the Final Rule, see the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's prepared fact sheet.
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About Native American Finance Officers Association
The Native American Finance Officers Association launched over three decades ago as the Native American Finance Officers Association to highlight the role of tribal finance in fostering economic opportunities. The Native American Finance Officers Association has grown along with tribal economies over the last 30 years to be advocates of sound economic and fiscal policy and developers of innovative training programs in financial management to build the financial and economic skills of the next generation, and convenes tribal leadership, experienced professionals, and economic partners to meet the challenges of economic growth and change. Through its work in growing tribal economies and strengthening tribal finance, the Native American Finance Officers Association supports the advancement of independent and culturally vibrant American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
To learn more about the Native American Finance Officers Association, visit the website www.nafoa.org.