NAFSA to Congress: CFPB Targets and Actively Dismisses Tribal Sovereignty

Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), Quannah Davis, NAFSA Executive Director Gary Davis, and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT)

Published October 4, 2017

NAFSA’s Gary Davis visits Members of Congress, staff to discuss latest CFPB actions

WASHINGTON – The CFPB has created a dangerous precedent by ignoring tribal sovereignty, says Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA) Executive Director Gary Davis. Davis made this case to federal lawmakers in Washington last week as he continued NAFSA’s advocacy on the Hill. The most recent example of the CFPB’s disregard for tribal sovereignty has surfaced due to a consent order with a non-tribal, non-NAFSA business. The order includes a provision specifically banning the consideration of tribal status/sovereignty in the application of state law.

There are major concerns that such language will become boilerplate in CFPB consent orders, and that the CFPB is actively looking to marginalize tribal activity in the marketplace by focusing on companies in the industry that do business with tribes. You can learn more about what these actions mean for tribal lending entities (TLEs) by visiting NAFSA’s website.

“Tribal sovereignty is not something that can be ignored at will,” said Davis. “Despite the best efforts of NAFSA and our member tribes, the CFPB appears intent on skirting or completely ignoring tribal sovereignty when it comes to the enforcement of its regulations. The CFPB’s disregard for tribal sovereignty could have far-reaching implications for all tribally-owned enterprises by setting a dangerous precedent for tribal-federal relations.”

This is not the first issue the CFPB has had regarding its recognition of tribal sovereignty. The CFPB has chosen to bring tribes and tribal lending entities under its civil investigative demands (CIDs) authority. In using its authority, the CFPB has abandoned the co-regulatory structure envisioned when the bureau was created by the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010. Even though tribal lending entities have sovereign status, a federal court has ruled that CFPB statutes did not exempt tribes from falling under CID authority. That case could soon appear before the Supreme Court. Absent high court action, Congress would have to act to clarify tribes and tribal entities’ status with respect to the CFPB.

“The response from Members of Congress to our concerns has been very positive, and we will be actively continuing our advocacy on the Hill,” said Davis. “Ensuring tribal sovereignty is maintained when extended to economic arms of a tribe is vital for the future of economic development in Indian Country.”

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  1. richard smith 3 years ago
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