Charles Trimble: Lessons from Indian banking
"In the final months of 2008, as I watched some of America’s largest financial institutions teeter on the verge of bankruptcy, and some of the financial giants fail, I thought of my own experience on the board of directors of the American Indian National Bank from 1975 – 1986.

It wasn’t that AINB management or the board did anything greedy or illegal, as was the case in some of the large institutions, but we learned how sorely lacking we were in knowledge and experience in the highly competitive and volatile world of banking and financing.

Although it had a short life of 11 years – from 1975 to 1986 – AINB was a noble effort. It was begun by several prominent Native Americans, including past Congressman Ben Reifel, R-S.D., and Fred Massey Sr., a retired federal official. This group was able to secure a million-dollar loan from the International Bank, and invited tribes to invest in capitalizing it. Public shares were also offered with preference given to Native Americans. This eventually grew to approximately $48 million in assets. The founders had also hoped to “hold” certain appropriated federal funds until they were delivered to tribes and programs in Indian country. This would let those funds earn money for investment in Indian economic development projects. This however did not happen."

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Charles Trimble: Lessons from the Indian banking sector (Indian Country Today 8/7)

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