Schatz Leads Committee Roundtable on Economic Sovereignty in Native Communities

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, led a roundtable discussion, “Investing in Economic Sovereignty: Leveraging Federal Financing for New and Sustained Development in Native Communities” to hear from the Department of the Treasury, the Department of the Interior, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and Native leaders from across the country.


In his opening statement, Schatz explained historical challenges and underscored how federal resources are advancing Native communities’ economic sovereignty.


“Access to capital for economic and community development is a longstanding issue within many Native communities. Unique barriers, such as the inability to easily collateralize trust land for home loans, compound disparities in already distressed economies,” said Chairman Schatz. “However, Congress’s recent allocation of billions of dollars in targeted resources to help Native communities recover from COVID-19 – including the biggest one-time investment in Native-serving programs in history through the American Rescue Plan – has changed the game. [These] new federal authorities and resources are making a difference on the ground.”


The following panelists participated in the roundtable:

  • Mr. Clint Hastings, Associate Program Manager for Native Initiatives, Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, U.S. Department of Treasury, Washington, D.C.
  • Ms. Fatima Abbas, Senior Advisor, Office of Recovery Programs, U.S. Department of Treasury, Washington, D.C.
  • Ms. K. Denise Edwards, Acting Director of the Office of Indian Economic Development and Chief of the Division of Economic Development, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
  • Mr. Casey Lozar, Vice President, Center for Indian Country Development, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, MN
  • The Honorable Arlan Melendez, Chairman, Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, Reno, NV
  • Mr. Kūhiō Lewis, President & Chief Executive Officer, Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA), Kapolei, HI
  • Mr. Richard Frias, Executive Director, Native American Financial Officers Association (NAFOA), Washington, D.C.
  • Mr. Pete Upton, Board Chairman, Native CDFI Network (NCN), Washington, D.C.
  • Mr. Carl Marrs, Chief Executive Officer, Old Harbor Native Corporation, Old Harbor, AK


To view the full video of the hearing, click here.