Selling To Native American Tribes

Posted by on February 3, 2014 at 10:01 pm.

by April Tanner, Kimball Equipment Company

Does your company sell to foreign nations? Your company may be taking this risk and not even know it. If you sell to a Native American Tribe –  with or without your knowledge of the tribal ownership of the company, then your company is selling to a Sovereign Nation and the normal credit rules don’t apply. The risk – yes risk – your company is exposed to is increased. . . unless you are prepared.

United States Indians, Canadian Indians and Alaska Natives are considered Native American Tribes by United States and Canadian law. In the United States, the tribes have their own laws.  These laws apply to their land, property, members and legal justice system. The Bureau of Indian Affairs in 2010 recognized over 300 tribes in the United States alone. Tribes ARE NOT normally subject to most United States laws. This fact will impact your business. These impacts will include your company’s ability to collect debt owed, repossess rented equipment, the safety of employees doing repairs to tribal owned equipment on tribal land, your company vehicles, and your employees/salespersons who enter tribal lands etc. 

Selling to tribes may also have an impact on your company’s relationship with your bank. Many banking rules and loan covenants have specific guidelines about reporting sales to tribes because of the high risk. Your company’s insurance policies also may have specific guidelines or regulations about selling to or having company employees or property enter Sovereign Nations Territory. Even our yearly auditors ask about our sales to tribes and how we control risk.

In the past 10 years I have noticed a huge increase in the number of tribes starting up companies and entering the business world. In some cases the tribe has leased their land to private US companies for use – further complicating legal issues. Many tribes are trying to utilize the assets they own in new and better ways to benefit the tribe . . . read full article

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