Katherine A. Spilde, Gavin Clarkson, Carma Claw Nez
Vanderbilt Law School’s Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law, Volume 19
Publication year: 2016


In 1886, the US Supreme Court wrote that, for Indian tribes, “the people of the states where they are found are often their deadliest enemies.” Recently, state agencies and regulators have continued that tradition of hostility by improperly attempting to regulate electronic commerce businesses operated by tribal governments that are more properly subject to regulations established by tribal law and subject to federal oversight. In this article, we present results of our empirical research into the economic impact of tribal e-commerce in Indian Country. We first frame the issue with a brief summary of the legal foundations for tribal e-commerce and tribal lending in particular. We then present several case studies of tribes that have engaged in online lending, focusing on the direct economic impact to those tribal communities. We conclude the article with policy arguments as to why state and federal regulators should support rather than suppress tribal e-commerce, including tribal small-dollar online lending… read more.