Democrats put faith in American Indians |

Democrats put faith in American Indians

Associated Press Writer

DENVER – Citing decades of discrimination against businesses on reservations, owners of the Denver-based Native American Bank praised a decision by organizers of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver to invest $2 million on Wednesday.The bankers said it’s a good way to encourage tribes to get more involved in politics after years of trying to convince lenders that businesses on reservations do not have higher default rates and that obstacles surrounding tribal sovereignty can be overcome.”We as native Americans are never going to have this opportunity again in our lifetimes,” said Frank LaMere, chairman of the Democratic National Convention Native American Coordinating Council.Leah Daughtry, the convention’s chief executive officer, said the money will be left in a non-interest-bearing account until it is needed next year. The money is part of $16 million provided by the federal government to pay for the convention.Daughtry said the deposit is a tradition by Democrats to help minority-owned banks.”We’re putting our money where our mouth is,” she said.The 6-year-old Native American Bank began to show a profit last year, President J.D. Colbert said.He said the bank has $79 million in deposits and $89 million in assets.Colbert said businesses on reservations have struggled for years to persuade banks to loan them money because reservations were economically stressed and have their own tribal laws.”In effect, they said native people were not bank-worthy,” he said.Manuel Heart, chairman of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe in Colorado, said Colorado tribes get a lot of money from oil and gas revenues and gambling, but most of that is used to supplement the federal government’s financial support for health care and education.He said many reservations are located near small towns that don’t have banks with the expertise needed to deal with legal issues dealing with American Indians.

Support Local Journalism