Economic growth in Indian Country has improved over the past two decades, yet entrepreneurs and businesses on most reservations still find it difficult to access credit and capital investments. As sovereign nations, tribes can support and encourage the flow of credit into their communities by creating and strengthening their secured transaction systems (STS). These commercial laws are essential to protecting the interests and rights of businesses that extend credit, such as banks.
A strong STS establishes a set of rules for secured transactions that is reasonably similar to other jurisdictions, a reliable and transparent lien filing system, and politically independent contract enforcement mechanisms. This article explores the history and components of STS across the United States and Indian Country. It also discusses the Model Tribal Secured Transactions Act, and provides insights for tribal community leaders who are considering adopting or strengthening their STS.