Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation has re-entered the online loan operation, this time connecting up with Plain Green LLC.
From all indications, Plain Green is a far more respectable outfit than PDL Ventures, with which Rocky Boy was involved over the last two years. The Better Business Bureau reports all kinds of problems with PDL Ventures, with people making complaints that were never addressed by the company.
Although the bureau gives Plain Green an F, the company has fewer complaints and a higher percentage of them resolved than PDL Ventures had.
So, Rocky Boy is running an operation that would be illegal off the reservation. Montana voters wisely last year voted to outlaw such operations in the state.
Rocky Boy claims that tribal sovereignty exempts it from Montana law, though as a safety measure, it had told the Montana attorney general it won't offer its lending services to Montana residents — only the other 49 states.
Still, there is something terribly wrong here.
First, poor people who are heavily in debt to begin with, have few options if they are faced with medical difficulties, car problems or other emergencies.
They have few choices but to resort to high-interest loans that almost by their nature are predatory. In the long run, such loans rarely help poor people. More often than not, they just result in people being more heavily leveraged.
And Indian reservations are much in the same predicament. Most are just like Rocky Boy, in remote areas and full of people who live beneath the poverty line.
Previous efforts to boost the economy at Rocky Boy have been largely unsuccessful. The same is true for most reservations.
As a result, Native Americans often have to resort to running gambling casinos, selling cigarettes or operating high-interest loan operations.
Now, people are getting paid living wages to work at the lending institution, and the tribe is getting impressive monthly profits. The tribe needs the money, because you can be sure that with massive federal budgets cuts on the horizon, Congress will, sadly, put Native Americans at the front of the line for the budget ax.
It's hard to blame Rocky Boy officials, who have fought for years to get some kind of economic development projects going. Sadly, most doors to improved economic opportunities are shut to Native Americans.
It's sad that poor people in need of bailout loans and Native Americans reservations in desperate need for financial help, have no place to turn but each other for help.