"Tribes have engaged in kinship commerce, or inter-tribal trade, since time immemorial. A recent news headline, however, recently helped bring these activities to the forefront: “Economic Consortium of Indian Tribes Launched; The Native American Group to Buy from and Sell to Member Tribes.” As reported in Business Wire, the Seminole Tribe and Mashantucket Pequot Tribe announced the formation of Native American Consortium.
Consortium tribes intend to buy from and sell to American Indian-owned vendors and producers for their needs whenever possible. Nine other tribes from various regions are participating. Northwest tribes include the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and the Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak, the latter marketing its seafood products to tribal casinos as well as health food outlets in the Seminoles’ territory in Florida. The consortium’s foremost goal is economic development throughout Indian country.
To assist in its efforts, the consortium in September entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of the Interior’s Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development. IEED will help connect producer tribes and Indian-owned businesses with purchaser tribes, and participating tribes with federal procurement opportunities and commercial markets world-wide. The consortium will also foster business transactions, joint ventures, and other economic development initiatives. Early efforts are focusing on trade in paper products and beef. Tribes and Indian-owned businesses are also exploring trade in seafood, agricultural products, raw materials and mineral assets.
Inter-tribal e-commerce is another exciting area, particularly from a tax perspective. States seeking to tax e-commerce in Indian country will likely encounter legal hurdles relating to Indian tax immunity. For example, states that want to impose use taxes on inter-tribal trade activities will have to demonstrate a sufficient physical connection to the state."
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Debora Juarez and Sharon Haensly: Kinship commerce: New developments in inter-tribal trade
(Indian Country Today 12/5)