Category: August 2015 – Indigenous Peoples & Impact Investing

Impact Investing in Native American Communities

By Drew Tulchin, Managing Consultant of UpSpring with Rafael Chapman, Analyst of UpSpring,


According to the US Census, Native American, Alaskan Natives and Pacific Islander indigenous people accounting for 1.6% of the total population. While small, the amount of investment and donations that serve this population is disproportionately even smaller. For example, well below 1% of US philanthropy goes to ‘Indian Country’. And, banks physically are often absent from Native communities, and their capital is, as well.

“When we went to start our business on our reservation, the bank’s loan officers looked at us like they didn’t understand what we were saying. We literally had to bring them to our site and show them. They were not able to interpret their underwriting with consideration of the sovereign laws of our Tribe, even though our business was viable.”
– Native American Entrepreneur in Northern New Mexico

The need for more jobs, updated housing, better health, stronger education, and increased incomes provides many areas for investment. Unemployment and poverty rates are much higher in reservations than even their surrounding border communities: the unemployment rate over 10% [1] and 30% of Indian housing identified as overcrowded, and community poverty rates that are the highest in the country nearly one-third[2].

Capital and wealth creation for Native Americans has not been solved through gambling. Of the 566 federally recognized tribes in the U.S., only 240 have casinos at all. And, much of this money does not stay in the community due to the nature of the working agreements with the casino management companies. A small percentage of tribes have had great financial success, no question, but there are still 100s of others where the standard of living is well below American averages. Native Americans have the least financial wealth statistically, even compared with other minorities.

Impact Investment is a Good Fit for Indian Country

Since the advent of socially motivated investment in the modern era, the drive for mission driven capital has been a good fit for investing in Native American opportunities. Most opportunities are in community investment. Challenges include there are few vehicles and limited communication about them. This makes matching capital difficult even for willing investors.

In financial terms, transaction costs are high and risk is difficult to quantify due to lack of ‘comparables’. There are additional factors, which can scare off a less initiated investor – like sovereignty, complicated Tribal governments, and communities that are opaque to outsiders. These factors can readily be addressed, but it often requires more time than alternatives, leading potential participants to pursue faster options.

A dollar injected into a Tribal economy can really make a difference, more so than many other options, and offer a viable return. Tribal government and the next generation of leaders are seeking new solutions to overcome the post-colonial cycle of US federal government grants. Therefore, new cash flows are important to bolster especially the more remote communities and those with little formal commerce.

With increased attention on impact investment, now is great timing to increase linkages between capital markets and Native American communities. Solutions to investment barriers are emerging. Formal Indian Business Alliances (IBAs), for example, hone the sovereign laws of a Tribe to match commercial legal requirements of surrounding counties and states. Training programs, including the local Native Community Finance in New Mexico and the national ONABEN, support business plan development for new entrepreneurs and financial education programs to increase assets.

Another investment path in Indian Country is leveraging capital market vehicles. Existing financial instruments include low-income housing, historic preservation and other tax-credits. These are the same tools used throughout the U.S. Other known community investment products, like New Market Tax Credits and Community Development Venture Capital, are rarely seen, most often due to lack of local knowledge and expertise in them.

How Can We Help Indigenous Communities With Community Investment?

While there are few channels to invest in Indian Country, their numbers are growing. Supporting Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Tribal Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs) are two clear options. Of the 917 CDFIs in the US, an estimated 8% serve American Indian, Alaska Native, and/or Native Hawaiian communities.

The Native CDFI Network ( ), is a nonprofit organization with more than 70 members whose mission is to strengthen and promote “Native CDFIs creating access to capital and resources for Native peoples.” Among their many activities, the Network lists its membership to connect interested investors. And, it works with national organizations to raise the profile of Native lenders, as well as support policy initiatives.

Hopi Credit Association in the Southwest, and Four Bands Community Fund in South Dakota are just a select few of the members nationwide with outside investors.

What Are The Exemplary Organizations In This Field?

There are many shining lights of institutions doing great work. These are just a few with which we are personally familiar. It in no way advocates for a specific organization, and there are many other worthy entities that we welcome to be sited. Contact and we will list all recommendations on our blog- The goal here is to provide a wide range of examples:

First Nations Oweesta Corporation ( )
National Native Organization

This long-standing entity provides training, technical assistance, and investment to tribal members and Native lenders. Founded in Colorado in 1999, among its many other accomplishments, Oweesta has extensive research on Native financial education and asset building. It received the 2015 Education Program of the Year award from the Native American Finance Officers Association for its Building Native Communities program. Oweesta has managed 10s of millions of investor dollars with excellent repayment. It has served as a mezzanine financial intermediary, on-lending to smaller Native CDFIs.

CRAFT3 ( )
Regional CDFI

This nonprofit was founded in 1994 and has a strong track record working with impact investors. It has invested more than $333M in over four thousand people and businesses in the Pacific Northwest. In collaboration with ONABEN, CRAFT3 offers loans to Tribes and Tribal members in Oregon and Washington. This lender and technical assistance has particular expertise in many sectors banks avoid but which are vital to rural, local communities. Areas include financing land, agriculture, seafood, forestry, and child care. A Native example of positive impact is financing the Taala Fund, for Quinault tribal members, to support ten businesses that brought new local job opportunities.

Cha Piyeh, Inc (CPI)

Native Local CDFI

CPI provides capital to Ohkay Owingeh Tribal Members in New Mexico. [Disclosure: Author sits on the Board.] CPI offers specialized loans to young people with no credit, affordable consumer loans, home repair and home purchase. This young organization has helped nearly 100 families escape the trap of payday lenders. The staff continuously strives to improve the lives financially and economically on a daily basis. They recently closed on their first mortgage, which enabled a tribal member to sell his home to another tribal member. It recently began working with outside investors to increase its total portfolio, which is currently just under $1 million.

What Financing Options Are Available?

There are other avenues to support the development of Native American communities:

Calvert Foundation ( )
For Individuals and Institutions

Dedicated to growing the impact investment movement and providing community development financing to under-served communities, this CDFI has raised over $1 billion from over 15,000 investors since 1995. Through their Community Investment Note, the Foundation has been able to connect individual investors with nonprofits and private organizations addressing community needs such as job creation, affordable housing, and environment protection.

Efforts in Indian Country in the US include investing in financial institutions such as the Native American Bank (NABNA).

• Native Home Capital ( )
For foundations and high net worth individuals

This Southwest based organization is home to The Native Green Loan Fund. The Fund is a public / private partnership created with Confluence Philanthropy ( ). It set out to pool support of foundations to invest in greening Native American infrastructure projects, such as solar power, improved solar, and better heating systems. The goal of the fund is to leverage $10 million in shared risk program-related investments to leverage nearly $12 million annually in state allocated grant funds for tribal infrastructure.

Ohkay Owingeh Housing Authority (OOHA)
Tax credit for individuals, foundations and institutions with New Mexico tax liabilities

OOHA is the Tribally Designated Housing Entity (TDHE) of the Ohkay Owingeh Tribe in New Mexico. It has housed 100s of low income families, delivering financial education, homeownership education, and leading community development projects. It has received dozens of national awards for its cultural preservation, sovereign protection, and economic development.

Tribal members are working to bring more families back to live in their 700 year old historic plaza, which is at the center of the community. To do so, a new vehicle to raise capital was created in partnership with the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority (NM MFA). This provides a tax credit to supporters, applying a 50%  state tax burden credit, in addition to federal and state tax deductions. This opportunity is available to corporations, individuals, foundations, and other legal entities. The Plaza Restoration Project, called Owe’neh Bupingeh in their Native Tewa tongue, is a novel model to diversify capital sources.

The Future

A number of investment efforts are growing with presence in Indian Country. With the rise of technology, transaction costs are reduced. More opportunities will continue to grow here in the future. Some emerging examples are:

Peer to Peer Lending. Think of this as eBay for lending. With over 2 million members and more than $4 billion in funded loans, Prosper ( ) is one of the largest such lending marketplaces in the United States. People borrow from $2,000 to $35,000. Investors lend as little as $25 and earn a return. Kiva ( ), is a nonprofit organization that allows individuals to make small donations to microfinance institutions that provide loans and other financial services to underserved communities. They are expanding with Kiva Zip to offer direct lending to institutions, individuals and businesses, with interest in serving low income and minority populations with affordable capital to reduce poverty and spur economic development.

Online Portals. CapNexus ( ) is a searchable online database that provides social investors with detailed information about lending opportunities. By breaking information asymmetry constraints, this investment tool brings clarity and transparency to investment initiatives – including those in Indian Country, decreasing financial risk and increasing access to deals.

Crowdfunding websites such as Crowdfunder ( ) and Kickstarter ( ) aggregate small contributions from a very wide pool of people. With the recent changes in raising investment online, equity and debt is increasingly possible, in addition to the donation format that is done now. A successful crowdfunding in Indian Country was Project 562. This campaign raised over $200,000 to collect photographic stories from members of every Native American tribe in the US.

Pay for Success (PFS, sometimes called “Social Impact Bonds”) is an innovative funding model that drives government resources toward social programs that prove effective at providing positive results to the people who need them most. PFS expands available funding for service providers, expanding the pie. It tracks the effectiveness of programs over time to ensure funding is directed toward programs that work.

PFS enables governments to draw in greater and more diverse resources to tackle social problems by tapping private investments for the upfront costs of the programs. If the program is successful in delivering services that measurably improve the lives of the people it is meant to serve, then government repays those who made the original investment. If the program does not achieve its target results, government does not repay those who made the original investment.

This model ensures that taxpayer dollars are being spent only on programs that actually work. This model, first introduced in 2010 in the UK, has grown in the US. Seven projects have launched to date, with two led by Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc. ( ) to address underfunded social needs including homelessness and prison recidivism.

There are many more stories and organizations out there. Send opportunities to invest in Indian Country to us and we’ll post them for all to see . The potential is great, with high need to fill.


Article by Drew Tulchin, Managing Consultant of UpSpring (formerly Social Enterprise Associates}, a B Corporation with the mission of providing market driven solutions that solve real problems. With 15 years plus experience, Tulchin’s efforts have led clients to raise more than $100 million for triple bottom line efforts. He serves as Treasurer of the board of Cha Piyeh, Inc, the CDFI of Ohkay Owingeh .

In the fall, he will be joining Third Sector Capital Partners ( ) as Senior Director. He has an MBA from the University of Washington and BA, cum laude, in History and International Relations from Washington University. Reach him at

Rafael Caballero Chapman, who joined UpSpring in 2015 as an Analyst after finishing his MPA in International Financial Management from American University. He has honorary BA degrees in Economics and International Relations from the University of Delaware, and is originally from Caracas, Venezuela.

Article Reference Notes


[2]  National Center for Education Statistics (2008). Statistical Trends in the Education of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Washington, DC: US Department of Education.

Indigenous Peoples and Engagement Timeline for Sustainable and Responsible Investing (2006 – 2015)

By This list was coordinated and complied by Reed Montague of Calvert Investments with extensive contributions by Steven Heim of Boston Common Asset Management,

[Additional information dated from 1971-2005 is in Part 1 of this compilation]

The list is based on an earlier timeline created by First Peoples Worldwide ( )


2006 – 2009 –  Joined by over a dozen investors, Boston Common Asset Management on behalf of Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust files shareholder proposals with ConocoPhillips. Representatives from Boston Common and/or BBT speak at the ConocoPhillips annual meeting for 10 consecutive years. They, along with Amazon Watch, facilitate participation by Indigenous representatives for the 2006, 2007 and 2008 ConocoPhillips annual meetings. The Resolved clause for the 2007 Proxy states: Shareholders request that the Board prepare a report at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, on ConocoPhillips’ policies and procedures regarding: 1. Host country laws and regulations with respect to their adequacy to protect indigenous rights. 2. Process and practice for obtaining consent of Indigenous Peoples affected by our operations, through their recognized and official governance structures. Resolved clause for 2007 and 2008 Proxy Statement also references Indigenous Peoples Living in Voluntary Isolation who face extinction from diseases, and shareholders request that the Board prepare a report by November 1, 2009, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, on ConocoPhillips’s policies, procedures, and practices for obtaining consent of Indigenous Peoples affected by our activities – whether as operator or minority partner – through their recognized and official governance structures; and its policies to avoid contact with Indigenous Peoples living in voluntary isolation. In 2009, shareholders withdrew the proposal after the company committed to expand its reporting per the proposal and meet in New York, which leads to twice yearly dialogue meetings from 2010 to 2014 with ICCR members and other investors.

2006 –  Representatives from the Western Shoshone in Nevada and the Colville Tribe attend the AGM of Newmont Mining, along with Indigenous representatives from Australia, Ghana, and Peru. Investors, led by Boston Common Asset Management, urge Newmont to respect the rights of the Western Shoshone.

2006 –  Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS) picks up the lead from Boston Common Asset Common on Newmont Mining after shares sold. CBIS files shareholder proposal asking Newmont to prepare a report on its community consultation practices that its board supports. At Newmont’s 2007 AGM, over 95% of votes are in favor of the proposal.

2007 –  The UN establishes The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) as a subsidiary body of the Human Rights Council, the UN’s main human rights body. EMRIP provides the Human Rights Council with thematic advice, in the form of studies and research, on the rights of Indigenous peoples. In 2012, EMPIP submits a report on Indigenous Peoples and the right to participate in decision making with a focus on extractive industries.

2007 –  The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration) is adopted with widespread support from UN General Assembly following a 30-year struggle by Indigenous Peoples from around the world.

2007 –  The Ethical Investment Research Information Services (EIRIS) and the Center for Australian Ethical Research (CAER) rate 250 companies’ risk exposure to Indigenous Peoples’ rights in their October 2007 report “Indigenous rights, indigenous wrongs: risks for the resource sectors”.

2008 –  First Peoples Worldwide publishes “The Histories of Social Investing & Indigenous Peoples: Using the Tools of Diverse Cultures to Restore Balance to a Fractured World”, noting that Indigenous Peoples have practiced social investing for eons.

2008 –  Boston Common Asset Management and other investors urge Repsol YPF a major Spanish oil & gas company to adopt an Indigenous Peoples policy that include FPIC. They also ask Repsol to withdraw from Block 39 in Peru, an area with reports of the presence of Indigenous Peoples Living in Voluntary Isolation. Intermon Oxfam (Oxfam of Spain) represents Boston Common at Repsol’s 2008 AGM in Madrid. Their intervention leads to front page press coverage in Spain. Intermon Oxfam prepared a critical report the previous year and submitted a petition with 10,000 signatures to Repsol. The company then consults with 24 national and international groups including Intermon Oxfam to develop its Indigenous Communities policy, adopted in 2008. The policy includes reference to FPIC, ILO 169 and the UN Declaration.

2008 –  U.S. investors organized by Boston Common Asset Management send a letter to Barrick Gold that supports the Western Shoshone in Nevada. Boston Common helped arrange for representative of the Western Shoshone to participate in the 2008 AGM. Boston Common co-filed a shareholder proposal by NEI Investments that received over 16% vote in favor at Barrick’s 2009 AGM

2009 – 2011 –  ConocoPhillips makes initial commitment for its Peru operations: “For our exploration and production projects, we have publicly pledged to indigenous inhabitants in our areas of operations in Peru to obtain complete understanding and agreement of our activities with all communities prior to conducting operations.” The company later in 2011 amends its corporate human rights position to include Indigenous Peoples: “The Company’s approach to engagement with indigenous communities, in locations where they are an important stakeholder group for our operations, is consistent with the principles of the International Labour Organization Convention 169, concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” These actions followed five years of investor engagement led by Boston Common Asset Management and Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust.

2009 –  The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) adopts its first position statement on Indigenous Peoples and mining.

2009 –  First Peoples Worldwide becomes the first Indigenous representative on the Global Reporting Initiative’s technical committee.

2009 –  Wilmar International, a major palm oil company, returns disputed land and pays compensation to Indigenous Peoples.

2009 –  Batirente and Ethical Funds launch a three year investor collaborative engagement on Indigenous Peoples’ rights with investor signatories to the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and engages over 10 oil & gas, mining and timber companies worldwide. Since 2012, a group of international investors continue quarterly conference calls to coordinate engagements and hear from experts and indigenous leaders.

2009 –  Investors affiliated with US SIF Foundation’s IPWG and led by First Peoples Worldwide submit joint comments to Global Reporting Initiative advocating for FPIC and Community Well-Being Indicators in the GRI’s reporting standards for mining companies for the GRI G3  Metals & Mining Sector Supplement (MMSS).

2009 –  Twenty-six investors sign a letter from ICCR to FedEx questioning FedEx’s corporate support of the Washington, D.C.’s NFL football team as it owns the stadium’s naming rights. Due to the company’s disappointing response, some investors file a shareholder resolution with FedEx. The resolution was ultimately disallowed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2009 as “ordinary business” for marketing practices. FedEx executives meet in person and via telephone with a large group of investors and others: Oneida Trust of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin (Oneida Trust), Mercy Investment, Boston Common Asset Management, a commissioner of Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs, Calvert, ICCR, US SIF, Trillium, Catholic Healthcare West (Dignity Health), First Affirmative Financial Network, First Peoples Worldwide, and United Methodist Church General Commission on Religion and Race.

2009 –  A Western Shoshone representative speaks at Barrick Gold’s AGM with help from Boston Common Asset Management.

2009 –  The Calvert Social Investment Fund announces it will sell its shares in Weyerhaueser after engaging the company since 2003 as it has strong concerns over the company’s influence on treaty implementation negotiations between Grassy Narrows First Nation and the Province of Ontario.

2009 –  Trillium Asset Management files a shareholder proposal with Chevron – Global Environmental Standards Report. The Chevron Business and Ethics Code places the highest priority on the safety of its staff, community members and the environment where it operates. Corporate Policy 530 “commits Chevron to comply with the spirit and letter of all environmental, health and safety laws and regulations, regardless of the degree of enforcement.” Our company operates in 180 countries, including African, Asian and Latin American nations where environmental regimes may be less protective of human health and the environment than in other countries where Chevron operates.”

2009 –  Investors coordinated by Boston Common Asset Management sign an Amici Curiae brief of the Social Justice Advocacy Group for the 2009 appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court for Harjo et al. v. Pro-Football Inc. The case sought cancellation of the Washington NFL Team’s trademark on disparagement grounds. The case was not heard and due to the issue of “laches” ended.  A second suit with different plaintiffs led by Amanda Blackhorse, which had been on hold until the first case was resolved, then continues to proceed through the courts.

2009 –  Talisman Energy commissions a report by Foley Hoag, “Implementing a Corporate Free, Prior, and Informed Consent Policy: Benefits and Challenges”, published in July 2010 at the request of shareholders Batirente and RRSE (Regroupement pour la responsabilite sociale des entreprises), who continue to raise concerns over the Achuar’s opposition to Talisman’s operations in Peru. Batirente staff conducts a fact finding trip in Peru. Talisman leaves the country in 2012.

2010 –  In December, President Obama announces support by the U.S. Government for the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration). Earlier in 2010, 20 institutional investors led by Boston Common Asset Management sign a letter to the U.S. State Department encouraging unqualified endorsement by the U.S. for the UN Declaration. Calvert Investments speaks at a U.S. State Department hearing on the UN Declaration. ICCR and the Indian Law Resource Center brief investors on the status of the U.S. Government support for the UN Declaration.

2010 –  US SIF Foundation publishes a guidebook, “Creating a Sustainable World: A Guide to Responsible Stewardship of American Indian Assets”. Download link:

2010 –  Native American Finance Officers Association conference holds its first panel on SRI, titled “Shareholder Advocacy and Due Diligence When Choosing Your Investments”. The panel description states: “Money Talks!” A Tribe’s fiduciary duty extends to making responsible and informed investments in companies that help — and not harm — Indian Country and Native peoples.” Speakers are from Pueblo of Laguna, Milberg LLP, Trillium Asset Management and Boston Common Asset Management.

2010 –  The Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin hosts the SRI in Oneida Conference, called “Engaging in Socially Responsible Investing (SRI): Building Collaboration Among our Nations”. US SIF Foundation’s IPWG members present on the power of shareholder advocacy to representatives of several tribes.

2010 –  The Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin wins an Honoring Nations award from the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government for its management of tribal assets using a socially responsible investment (SRI) strategy.

2011 –  Devon Energy adds an aboriginal relations policy to its Canadian Code of Conduct following engagement by Calvert Investments.

2011–  IPIECA, the global oil & gas association for environmental and social issues, publishes the report, “Indigenous Peoples and the oil and gas industry: Context, issues and emerging good practice”.

2011 –  ConocoPhillips adds Indigenous Peoples rights to its corporate human rights position statement with references to ILO 169 and the UN Declaration. This follows five years of engagement by investors led by Boston Common Asset Management and the Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust.

2011 –  Over 40 institutional investors and Native American organizations (including the National Congress of American Indians) petition the FedEx Board of Directors regarding the company’s corporate sponsorship of the Washington, D.C. NFL football franchise and its disparaging name. The Oneida Nation and other investors present a floor motion based on the petition’s text at the annual meeting. By the 2014 FedEx AGM, support grows to over 100 organizations for the petition, including tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

2011 –  The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) passes a resolution following encouragement from the U.S. SIF Foundation’s IPWG encouraging tribal governments to adopt an SRI policy regarding their investable assets. NCAI also adopts SRI as its own standard practice.

2012 –  The International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank updates its social and environmental performance standards relative to Indigenous Peoples, Performance Standard 7. It explicitly requires that “the client will obtain the FPIC of the Affected Communities of Indigenous Peoples in the circumstances described in paragraphs 13–17 of this Performance Standard.” Investors including NEI Investments provide comments and recommendations to the IFC.

2012 –  First Peoples Worldwide publishes “Investors and Indigenous Peoples: Trends in Sustainable and Responsible Investment and Free, Prior, and Informed Consent” identifying environment and Indigenous sacred places as two top investment issues.

2012 –  ConocoPhillips announces suspension of its operations in the Peruvian Amazon as part of its global asset realignment. ICCR members led by Boston Common Asset Management and Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust continue to engage with the company on its corporate wide implementation of its Indigenous Peoples policies, including in consultation with ConocoPhillips on its development of social indicators for internal and external reporting.

2013 –  Spectra Energy publishes an Aboriginal Relations statement following engagement by Boston Common Asset Management.

2013 –  Twenty-one investors led by Oneida Trust and Boston Common Asset Management send a letter of support to the original Congressional sponsors of H.R. 1278, the Non-Disparagement of Native American Persons and Peoples in Trademark Registration Act of 2013. The Bill would remove federal trademark protection for the “R word” in reference to Native Americans, as it is a disparaging term and cannot be trademarked. Rep. Mike Honda reintroduces the bill in 2015 with 26 co-sponsors.

2013 –  Batirente, Boston Common Asset Management, and Storebrand Investments staff serve as Expert Advisers for the UN Global Compact for its report “United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: A Business Reference Guide”, designed to help businesses respect and support the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Other investors also provide comments.

2014 –  Apache Corp. adopts an Indigenous Peoples statement following engagement by Boston Common Asset Management. The statement includes references to the UN Declaration, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability, the ILO Convention 169, and the World Bank’s Operational Policy and Bank Procedure on Indigenous Peoples.

2014 –  First Peoples Worldwide publishes “The Indigenous Peoples Guidebook to FPIC and Corporation Standards” and coordinates with the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to offer training in corporate engagement and responsible investment.

2014 –  Repsol announces its withdrawal from Block 39 in Peru in the Amazon following years of questioning by NGOs and investors, including Storebrand Investments and Boston Common Asset Management, regarding potential harm to Indigenous Peoples Living in Voluntary Isolation that may live in the territory.

2014 –  The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cancels trademarks for the Washington, D.C. NFL team name, as its name and logo are disparaging.

2014 –  The Oneida Trust and other investors for the second year in a row present a floor resolution at FedEx’s annual meeting on the company’s corporate sponsorship of the Washington, D.C. NFL football franchise’s 2014 annual meeting. They file a floor motion after the SEC allows FedEx to omit a shareholder proposal on the topic from the 2014 proxy statement. Oneida Trust and other investors file a new floor proposal in 2015 in case the SEC also disallows the new shareholder proposal to FedEx.

2014 –  First Peoples Worldwide publishes its “Indigenous Rights Risk Report” that analyzes 370 oil, gas and mining sites on or near Indigenous land operated by 52 U.S.-based companies, finding that “92% of these sites pose a medium to high risk to shareholders and investors. Yet only 5 companies have Indigenous Peoples policies to guide the company for how to positively engage and work with Indigenous Peoples.”

2015 –  Investors led by Boston Common Asset Management, Calvert Investments and NEI Investments send a letter to the World Bank urging it to refrain from weakening its Indigenous Peoples safeguard policies in its draft environmental and social safeguards framework for new lending. As of April, investors with over $900 billion in assets under management support the request.

2015 –  Investors affiliated with ICCR and led by Christian Brothers Investment Service submit joint comments to the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) for its updated Indigenous Peoples and Mining Good Practice Guide.

2015 –  After nearly a dozen American Indians walk off the movie set of Adam Sandler’s latest movie due to the offensiveness of the script, Calvert Investments and other investors send a letter to Netflix over the issue.

2015 –  The Federal District Court issues summary judgement in favor of Amanda Blackhorse et al. to overturn six trademarks held by Pro-Football, Inc. owners of Washington, D.C. football franchise. While the owners may appeal, it is a major victory in the long-running legal battle that started in 1992 in the Harjo, et. al v Pro-Football case.

[Additional information dated from 1971-2005 is in Part 1 of this compilation.]

(This list was completed in July 2015)

Footnote: The information in this article should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. All investments involve risk, including the risk of losing principal. Best efforts have been made to include accurate information, please contact US SIF Foundation’s IPWG for any corrections or comments at-



Reed MontagueReed Montague is a Sustainability Analyst at Calvert Investments, Inc. ( where she specializes in Indigenous Peoples’ rights, particularly around offensive images, and product marketing issues. She also specializes in the healthcare and media industries and her advocacy activities have focused on increasing sustainability disclosure and Indigenous Peoples’ rights. In addition, she works on a variety of projects that further the company’s sustainability. She is also a long-time serving member of US SIF’s Indigenous Peoples’ Working Group Steering Committee. Previously, she managed the company’s relationship with the Calvert Social Investment Fund Advisory Council for many years, handled strategic partnerships and helped launch the Calvert Foundation. Prior to joining Calvert, she worked in the fields of business ethics and international trade. She earned a BA in Psychology and Yugoslav Studies from Connecticut College and is FINRA Series 7 licensed.

Steven HeimSteven Heim is a Managing Director of Boston Common Asset Management (, a globally recognized sustainable investment firm. Steven has over 24 years of experience in the responsible investment field. Steven has worked to promote corporate transparency, accountability, and attention to sustainability issues. His efforts to protect the human rights of Indigenous Peoples have helped catalyze positive policy changes at U.S. and international companies including ConocoPhillips and Repsol that included direct engagement with Indigenous Peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Since 2007, Steven has chaired the advocacy subcommittee of US SIF Foundation’s Indigenous Peoples Working Group and he serves on the Board of Directors of Cultural Survival.

Indigenous Peoples and Engagement Timeline for Sustainable and Responsible Investing (1971 – 2005 )

By This list was coordinated and complied by Reed Montague of Calvert Investments with extensive contributions by Steven Heim of Boston Common Asset Management,

[Additional information dated from 2006-2015 is in Part 2 of this compilation]

 The list is based on an earlier timeline created by First Peoples Worldwide ( )


1971 –  The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) supports the Crow Tribe’s challenge to Westmoreland Coal’s strip mining plans on its reservation.

1977 –  Indigenous Peoples first take their concerns to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Commission. The UN adopts the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples some 30 years later.

Early 1980s –  ICCR holds several symposia with Native speakers on the issue of insulting caricatures and images. ICCR members, led by Gary Brouse, later campaign against the Chief Wahoo mascot used by the Cleveland Indians Major League Baseball franchise via advocacy with its corporate sponsors. After several years, they were successful in getting Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, and Miller Brewing to drop their use of the mascot in advertising.

1982 –  The World Bank issues its first policy concerning Indigenous Peoples (Operational Manual Statement, OMS 2.34) “Tribal People in Bank-financed Projects.” It states: “…whenever tribal peoples may be affected, the design of projects should include measures or components necessary to safeguard their interests, and, whenever feasible, to enhance their well-being.”

1986 –  The Lakota Funds are established at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation as the first Native American Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), with assistance by the Oglala Lakota College and First Nations Development Institute. Other Native American loan funds at credit union or banks emerge. Many ICCR members participate.

1989 –  The International Labour Organization (ILO) adopts the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 169, a legally binding international instrument on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, ratified by 20 countries.

1990 – The Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin adopts the first tribal socially responsible investment (SRI) policy for its trust funds.

1990 –  Rebecca Adamson joins the Board of Trustees of the Calvert Social Investment Fund, becoming the first Indigenous person on the board of a mutual fund.

1993 – 1995 –  The Campaign by the James Bay Cree prompts Tufts University in 1995 to become first major institutional investor to divest from Hydro-Quebec bonds. ICCR, with leadership by Gary Brouse, also encourages investors to not buy Hydro-Quebec bonds. ICCR members file shareholder proposals on Hydro-Quebec financing with American Express and Merrill Lynch. Adrian Dominican Sisters files a shareholder proposal with Consolidated Edison to not buy power supplied by Hydro-Quebec if a proposed dam is built, which is later withdrawn with some success. The Quebec government puts the project on hold.

1995 –  The Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin updates its SRI policy to invest in a manner that does not enable harm to the environment or the spiritual and cultural values of American Indians.

1998 –  Applebee’s International removes the wooden “cigar store Indian” statues from its own restaurants and franchise décor packages following engagement by American Indian groups and Walden Capital Management (a predecessor firm for Boston Common Asset Management).

1999 –  Calvert creates the first investment policy on Indigenous Peoples’ rights in the U.S. First Peoples Worldwide (FPW) and Calvert conduct certified financial training on the criteria for more than 600 brokers.

1999 – Kinder, Lydenberg, Domini & Co. add corporate engagement on Indigenous Peoples to its ESG research database.

1999 –  The Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin begins to engage with Walmart Stores Inc. over American Indian burial ground site issues.

2001 –  The United Nations Commission on Human Rights appoints a Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples as part of the system of thematic Special Procedures. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples UNSR promotes best practices and investigates allegations of violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights.

2001 –  Trillium Asset Management files a shareholder proposal to Enron. “The shareholders request that the Board of Directors prepare a report, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, analyzing the biodiversity and indigenous peoples impacts of Enron’s operations worldwide, with an eye towards developing or refining policies addressing these issues.”

2001 –  In an engagement involving both ICCR and the estate of Crazy Horse, SBC Holdings agrees to stop selling Crazy Horse malt liquor. Ultimately, in a special ceremony the company delivered culturally appropriate damages, including seven race horses, 32 blankets and sweet grass.

2002 –  The UN establishes the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) as an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), with a mandate to discuss Indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights that was created in response to demands from Indigenous Peoples for a high level permanent body at the UN.

2002 –  ICCR members involved in its Equality Working Group file shareholder proposals or otherwise engage the following 14 companies on the topic of American Indians and sacred names/images: America Online, BP, Disney/ABC, General Electric, Goodyear, Liz Claiborne, J.C. Penney, Federated Department Stores, Sears, Target, Time Warner, Tootsie Roll Industries, Viacom, and Walmart.

2002 –  BP drops its plans to name a major Gulf of Mexico oil field Crazy Horse, following dialogue with the estate of Crazy Horse and other Native Americans, ICCR and Walden Asset Management. The Lakota believes it is sacrilegious to say the name out loud of someone who has passed. The company agreed quickly to change the name.

2002 –  Calvert Investments files a shareholder resolution at apparel designer Liz Claiborne over the company’s use of the Crazy Horse name, which was offensive to the Lakota Tribe, to market a line of clothing. This followed engagement from a coalition of shareholders from ICCR that sent a letter signed by over 800 institutional investors. After being unable to reach an agreement with the company, Calvert eventually sold its shares in the company.

2002 –  Trillium Asset Management files a shareholder proposal asking IDACORP to report impacts of Hells Canyon on Native Americans, garnering 35% support.

2002 –  Calvert Investments calls on IDACORP to adopt a formal policy on the rights of Indigenous Peoples in a shareholder resolution. The vote drew 12.8% of votes cast.

2002 –  Trillium Asset Management files a shareholder proposal to ChevronTexaco. “THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the shareholders request the Board of Directors of ChevronTexaco Corporation develop and adopt a comprehensive and verifiable human rights policy which shall include an explicit commitment to support and uphold the principles and values contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

2003 –  Boston Common Asset Management on behalf of the Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust files a shareholder proposal with Newmont Mining, asking the company to prepare a report on the risk to the company’s operations, profitability and reputation from its social and environmental liabilities. The proposal notes community protests against current or proposed Newmont projects in Peru, Indonesia, Ghana and the U.S. It was withdrawn after Newmont agreed to dialogue on their approach to community consultation and Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) globally.

2003 –  Boston Common Asset Management on behalf of Church of the Brethren

Benefit Trust files a shareholder proposal with Burlington Resources asking the company to adopt an Indigenous Peoples policy due to concerns about its operations in the southern Amazon region of Ecuador. In 2004, the proposal is withdrawn after the company publishes a policy. In 2004, the company also commits not to use force to enter territories of Indigenous Peoples and to get their approval. Later, other investors join them in co-filing proposals in 2004 and 2005 until ConocoPhillips acquires the company in 2006.

2003 –  US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investing establishes the Indigenous Peoples Task Force, later to become the Indigenous Peoples Working Group (IPWG) in 2008.

2003 –  Calvert Investments files a shareholder resolution asking Calpine to develop, implement and publish a formal written policy on Indigenous Peoples’ rights and to cease geothermal development in the Medicine Lake Highlands of California, which local Indian tribes consider sacred land. The proposal wins 4.3 percent of the votes cast. Calvert later divested its shares over concern about the violation of a sacred site and because Calpine no longer met the applicable investment criteria. In 2006, an appellate U.S. court overturns a lower court decision on Calpine, finding the government agencies violated their regulatory duties by failing to complete an environmental impact statement before extending Calpine’s leases in 1998, and that the agencies never took a “hard look” at whether the Medicine Lake Highlands should have been developed for energy in the first place.

2003 –  Trillium Asset Management files a shareholder proposal with ChevronTexaco.  Through its “TexPet” subsidiary, Texaco extracted over 1.5 billion barrels of oil from the Ecuadorian Amazon between 1971 and 1992. (Texaco was acquired by ChevronTexaco in 2001.) An estimated 16.8 million barrels of oil were spilled from the pipeline during this time, contaminating land and water. None of the hundreds of oil spills from Texaco operations were adequately remediated. It is estimated that in over 20 years of operations in Ecuador, Texaco systematically dumped 18.5 billion gallons of toxic waste waters into open unlined pits (New York Times, 10/24/03), or directly into streams, rivers, or swamps although it was standard practice at the time in the U.S. to re-inject formation waters into the ground in the oil production process.”

2004 – 2006 –  Boston Common Asset Management leads investor coalition that asks Newmont Mining to explore adopting FPIC policy for its global mining operations. In depth dialogue covers Newmont’s operations and specific projects in Nevada, Australia, Peru, and Ghana. As a result, Newmont improved its policies on Indigenous Peoples and community consultation by bringing lessons learned from Peru to pre-site development in Ghana and with the Western Shoshone in Nevada. Engagement includes an investor visit to a Newmont mine in Nevada and meetings with the Western Shoshone.

2004 –  Boston Common Asset Management initiates direct investor dialogue with Indigenous federations in the southern Amazon region of Ecuador regarding their positions on oil development sought by Burlington Resources. The Comite Inerfederacional FINAE, FPSE, FISH, an interfederational committee of Achuar and Shuar Indigenous federations in Ecuador writes report for shareholders showing 80% opposition to oil development in the company’s Block 23 and 24 in Ecuador. The company claims 95% of the Indigenous Peoples in those oil blocks are supportive.This leads to a multi-year dialogue led by Boston Common and the Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust whose success was featured in the 2009 academic journal Global Environmental Politics article “Corporate Boomerang: The Role of Shareholders in Ecuador’s Transnational Advocacy Networks”. Leaders of the FINAE, FPSE and FISH Indigenous federations plus the Sarayaku Community meet in 2005 with representatives of Boston Common Asset Management, the Office of the State Controller for the State of California and ICCR in Puyo, Ecuador to share directly with investors in Burlington Resources their views on oil development. The Ecuadorian Army provided security for the meeting due to death threats against the Sarayaku leadership

2004 –  Occidental Petroleum includes Indigenous Peoples in its new human rights policy at the urging of Boston Common Asset Management, in a human rights dialogue led by Christian Brothers Investment Service.

2004 –  Representatives of the Klamath Tribes speak at the Scottish Power annual general (AGM) about negative impacts of Pacifcorp’s dams on their salmon fisheries, with assistance by Boston Common Asset Management. Later dialogue led to company resolving the situation.

2005 –  Trillium Asset Management files a shareholder proposal with Costco on a land procurement policy. In 2001, Costco and a Mexican partner, Comercial Mexicana, purchased public land in Cuernavaca, Mexico and plan to build two megastores, provoking strong community opposition because the site contains an architecturally significant hotel, the Casino de la Selva, a long-time an artistic center and with renowned murals. Residents were also concerned about the loss of the hotel’s wooded grounds, the presence of pre-Columbian artifacts at the site, and the project’s impact on traffic.”

2005 –  The World Bank updates its 1983 Indigenous Peoples safeguard policy to include Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC). The World Bank’s new policy (OP 4.10 – Indigenous Peoples) states: “The Bank provides project financing only where free, prior, and informed consultation results in broad community support to the project by the affected Indigenous Peoples.”

2005 –  NCAA excludes from championship play 18 teams with mascots named after Indigenous tribes or leaders without their permission.

2005 – 2007 –  Boston Common Asset Management leads U.S. shareholder dialogue with BP on its community consultation process with Indigenous Peoples and local communities regarding BP’s Tangguh LNG pipeline project in Indonesia. As a result, BP includes a formal grievance process in its policy.

2005 –  Investors conduct a fact finding trip to Ecuador and meet with five Indigenous communities, Indigenous leaders, government officials, NGOs, and others regarding proposed oil development in southern Amazon and oil pollution in northern Amazon. The trip organized by Amazon Watch includes representatives of the Office of the Controller for the State of California, ICCR and Boston Common Asset Management. Boston Common meets with CEO of Repsol Ecuador and other staff in Quito regarding the company’s operations in the Amazon and relations with the Waorani People.

2005 –  Walden Asset Management writes FedEx Corp. questioning FedEx on its corporate sponsorship of the Washington DC football franchise via naming rights to the team’s FedExField stadium.

[Additional information dated from 2006-2015 in Part 2 of this compilation.]

(This list was completed in July 2015)

Footnote: The information in this article should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. All investments involve risk, including the risk of losing principal. Best efforts have been made to include accurate information, please contact US SIF Foundation’s IPWG for any corrections or comments at-


Author Biographies

Reed MontagueReed Montague is a Sustainability Analyst at Calvert Investments, Inc. ( where she specializes in Indigenous Peoples’ rights, particularly around offensive images, and product marketing issues. She also specializes in the healthcare and media industries and her advocacy activities have focused on increasing sustainability disclosure and Indigenous Peoples’ rights. In addition, she works on a variety of projects that further the company’s sustainability. She is also a long-time serving member of US SIF’s Indigenous Peoples’ Working Group Steering Committee. Previously, she managed the company’s relationship with the Calvert Social Investment Fund Advisory Council for many years, handled strategic partnerships and helped launch the Calvert Foundation. Prior to joining Calvert, she worked in the fields of business ethics and international trade. She earned a BA in Psychology and Yugoslav Studies from Connecticut College and is FINRA Series 7 licensed.

Steven HeimSteven Heim is a Managing Director of Boston Common Asset Management (, a globally recognized sustainable investment firm. Steven has over 24 years of experience in the responsible investment field. Steven has worked to promote corporate transparency, accountability, and attention to sustainability issues. His efforts to protect the human rights of Indigenous Peoples have helped catalyze positive policy changes at U.S. and international companies including ConocoPhillips and Repsol that included direct engagement with Indigenous Peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Since 2007, Steven has chaired the advocacy subcommittee of US SIF Foundation’s Indigenous Peoples Working Group and he serves on the Board of Directors of Cultural Survival.

High Impact Community Investments in Indian Country

By Stephanie R. Leighton, CFA, Trillium Asset Management,

Stephanie R. Leighton of Trillium Asset Management

Trillium Asset Management

Community impact investing provides investors with the opportunity to support community economic development, revitalization, growth, and sustainability. Many investors choose to allocate a portion of their overall portfolio holdings to this high social impact asset class.

Clients of Trillium Asset Management were among the first investors in Lakota Funds, a Native American community development financial institution (CDFI) located on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. These investments support basic banking services, small business and financial literacy training to “underbanked” Native American communities who have been historically targeted by predatory lending practices.

The Lakota Fund – is a micro-enterprise fund that developed out of the credit starvation and the virtual absence of a local economy on the Pine Ridge Reservation, home to 18,000 from the Oglala tribe. Given an unemployment rate of 90%, these funds are essential. The Lakota Fund provides technical assistance and loan capital up to $25,000 to tribe members who are establishing or trying to grow their businesses. These loans go both to the informal and formal business sectors. An average loan is around $5,000. More information at-

First Nations Oweesta Corporation (Oweesta) – Territories: Native American Communities including Alaska and Hawaii.
Oweesta is a non-profit certified community development finance corporation (CDFI). It is the only Native CDFI (NCDFI) intermediary in the United States. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of First Nations Development Institute (FNDI) that was founded in 1999 to assist tribes and Native communities with technical assistance, training, community development information, investments and loans. More information at-

To learn more about Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) go to:


Article by Stephanie R. Leighton, CFA is a partner and portfolio manager for Trillium Asset Management, LLC. She leads the firm’s Large Cap Core and Growth and Income strategies and is a member of the portfolio management team for the Green Century Balanced Fund.

Prior to joining Trillium in 1990, Stephanie was an Investment Officer at Sun Life of Canada and an analyst at Pioneer Investments. She serves on the Indigenous Peoples’ Working Group of US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment and has served on the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Committee on Socially Responsible Investing.

Stephanie holds a B.A. from Bard College and an M.B.A. from Northeastern University. She is a past president of the New England Chapter of the Social Investment Forum. She is a member of the Boston Security Analysts Society and the CFA Institute. Stephanie is a Chartered Financial Analyst charterholder.


Photographer Zoë Marieh Urness

GreenMoney thanks Zoë Marieh Urness for her photographic contributions to our special August 2015 issue on “Indigenous Peoples and Impact Investing.”


Below you can read more about Zoe and find links to see her full portfolio as well as how to purchase her photos.

Zoë Marieh UrnessPhotographer Zoë Marieh Urness is a Tlingit Alaskan Native whose portraits of modern Natives in traditional regalia and settings, aim to send a message –– “We are here. And we are thriving, through our traditions.”

“Since April of last year, Urness, who is Tlingit and Cherokee, has been traveling the western United States, Using her art to help preserve the traditions of indigenous people, she produces photos that serve to connect the old ways to the modern-day realities of the Native world. The importance of passing on tradition through storytelling, dance and song is deeply ingrained in Native American life, and Urness has managed to not only participate in this sacred heritage in a stylish and contemporary manner, but through her diligent documentation is sharing the ways of those whom she honors with a wider audience. Gaining traction largely through word of mouth, the series has grown organically and exponentially as one subject leads Urness to the next, and what began as a solitary endeavor has blossomed into a communal effort, unconstrained by tribe or borders.”
— Brooklyn Benjestorf, Nordstrom Blogs

Her unique style fuses documentary and fine art, with her imagery simultaneously reflecting the sensitivity and the ancestral strength of her subjects. Educated at Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA and with previous work in fashion, sports and editorial, Zoe’s current project Native Americans: Keeping the Traditions Alive focuses exclusively on sharing beautiful, powerful images of Indigenous Americans, and the lands and traditions they hold dear.


GreenMoney Interview Series:

By Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Interviewed by Steven Heim, Managing Director of Boston Common Asset Management,

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples interviewed by Steven Heim, Managing Director of Boston Common Asset Management

Boston Common Asset ManagementUnited Nations

Introduction by Steven Heim, Managing Director at Boston Common Asset Management.

Investors increasingly must pay attention to Indigenous Peoples globally because of both risks to their portfolios and opportunities for lasting business partnerships.  Much of the world’s remaining biodiversity and natural resources are located on or near Indigenous lands. After centuries of marginalization and oppression Indigenous Peoples are asserting their inherent human rights to self-determination and protection of their lands and cultures. In 2007 the United Nations adopted the landmark Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As Walter Echo-Hawk states: the Declaration “now points the way for bringing to the world’s indigenous peoples, at long last, the same human rights protections universally enjoyed by the rest of humanity.”

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz advocates for Indigenous Peoples rights as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She started as a student activist in the Philippines in the 1960s helping her people stop a major hydroelectric dam that would have devastated their territories. Now she meets with governments and corporations to investigate alleged human rights abuses and also to advocate for best practices that respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples. She believes investors can play a key role in bringing human rights protections to Indigenous Peoples while also enhancing the long-term sustainability of their investments.


Steven:  What is the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and what is your role in the United Nations and the protocol for investigating claims of human rights abuses of Indigenous Peoples?

Victoria:  My mandate as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is to really monitor how Indigenous Peoples’ rights are being respected, protected, and fulfilled by States, because they are the duty holders of human rights. To accomplish this I have to conduct some country visits and communicate with governments when I receive allegations of human rights violations. I also have to gather information and evidence, write letters to the government and others who are accused, and then gather more information [including] what are they doing regarding these alleged violations. The other part of my mandate is to raise awareness on the rights of Indigenous Peoples and to engage in dialogues with States and multilateral bodies and, of course, with Indigenous Peoples themselves to raise awareness and advocate for Indigenous Peoples’ rights. So, there is awareness raising and advocacy work, as well as monitoring.

Steven:  What do you see as the key challenges facing Indigenous Peoples worldwide now and how about for Indigenous women also?

Victoria:  Well, I think one of the key challenges is that there is a big gap in terms of implementing the international instruments related to the respect and protection of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. The UN Declaration clearly states that Indigenous Peoples have rights to their lands, territories, and resources and the right to determine the kind of development best suited to their cultures. There is still a long way to go before those rights are respected. I think we now find the biggest challenge is to respect and protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples, their lands, and their territories.

Indigenous Peoples in many parts of the world find themselves faced with situations where many investors are buying or expropriating their lands, or giving justification to governments to expropriate their lands for other uses. Many of the world’s remaining resources, whether in forests, minerals, or oil and gas, are found in Indigenous Peoples’ territories. And if those are the areas where resources are found, it’s logical for corporations to want to get their hands on them. That is really the problem faced by many Indigenous Peoples and that’s the kind of complaint that I receive most of the time.

Steven:  And then for Indigenous women in particular, what challenges do they face?

Victoria:  Well, for Indigenous women it’s really this violation of the rights of all Indigenous Peoples to determine the kind of development that they want. Indigenous women suffer more problems because, number one, in many communities they are the subsistence producers. They are the ones who produce the food, provide the water, and ensure the survival of the community. They are also the transmitters of traditional knowledge and cultural values to the younger generations. And they are faced with a lot of difficulty because there is a lot of violence in Indigenous communities; when women join protests they are often subjected to military violence. Also, women endure a lot of violence in their own domestic realm because of alcoholism and social pressure in dysfunctional Indigenous communities. I think women suffer doubly from racism and discrimination, because they are Indigenous and because they are women. I receive a lot of reports about missing or murdered Indigenous women, even here in the United States and Canada.

The other side of the story is that Indigenous women are still very vigilant; they are the ones who maintain the cultural values and knowledge systems that can enable communities to save their lands and preserve biodiversity. Many of the women are the traditional healers in the communities; they want to continue playing those roles, so there really needs to be much more attention given to Indigenous women, not just because of their problems, but also because of the contributions they make to their communities and to sustainably managing the world’s resources.

Steven:  What are the key things that you would like to accomplish in 2015 and into 2016 and what will your next thematic report be on?

Victoria:  Well for 2015 I would like to, of course, do more country visits. In the thematic reports I will focus on Indigenous women. The next thematic report for the General Assembly will be on the impacts of investments on the human rights of Indigenous Peoples. Investment is an issue that strongly affects Indigenous Peoples.

And I am thinking that I will use investments as a theme from 2015 to 2017. That [way] there will be a follow-up of the findings that will come up this year, and I will continue looking at this until the end of my term, which is three years, renewable for another three years.

Steven:  How in general would you like investors to help advance the rights and self determination of Indigenous Peoples, either encouraging corporations to respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples, or in direct investment in communities?

Victoria:  There are now several guiding principles, or frameworks, that investors should be made aware of. First, you have the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights that has been released by the United Nations. And then we have the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. These are the frameworks that investors should be aware of. If they really [want] to protect social and environmental rights, as well as uphold social and environmental standards, these instruments can guide them in doing that properly. Second, I think investors have a role to play because there are Indigenous Peoples who would like to undertake development in their own communities, but the right kind of development, from their own perspectives. If they were able to link up with investors who understand the need for environmental and social standards that respect and protect rights as well as the environment, then Indigenous Peoples would willingly engage with them. [This is] because the way the world is working now, [these] responsible investors are not a part of the conversation. Unfortunately, the investors we see are often those who are only interested in high rates of return; they are not mindful about destruction of the environment or social standards. Theirs are not the kind of investments that will help save the world or humanity. I wish that such investors would seriously think about the risks they face when they don’t adhere to social and environmental standards, as well as the benefits they will experience if they respect them. Investors should make those kinds of risk analyses because if they don’t, there will only be more conflict. Ignoring rights can be very expensive. Maybe in the end, it will not come down to more profits for these investors, but more problems caused by disputed lands and of course reputational risk as well. It’s good to look at the possible approaches that will make investors do the right thing.

Steven:  How can investors, maybe, play the role of influencing member States and corporations to implement the UN Declaration, since it’s all about resources and corporations want the resources?

Victoria:  Well, I think that investors should really have a human rights dialogue with the States to encourage respect for human rights. And if investors are contributing to the national development of any country, it is in the interest of the State to respect and protect these rights and in the interests of investors as well. [It will] allow for a better sharing of benefits between Indigenous Peoples, [investors] and companies that operate in communities, and the government. Respecting rights helps to prevent conflicts that can substantially raise investors’ costs and even lead to the abandonment of projects. When land rights are secure, investors face fewer risks.

Respecting rights also helps preserve vital natural resources. There is a lot of evidence that if you respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples, they will contribute much more to saving forests, making the ecosystem more sustainable, as well as bringing about more equity within the community. Growing inequality is not good for people nor for the environment.

Steven:  Do you have any other things that you would like to share with the readers of GreenMoney Journal?

Victoria:  Well, I think the key message is for the investment community to really undertake actions to meet these minimum international standards that protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the environment. The dominant investments we are seeing are not geared towards that end; we have to have an alternative that makes our world more sustainable and more just. Investors must seriously factor these considerations into their investment decisions.



Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is a development consultant and an international Indigenous activist from the Kankanaey Igorot people of the Cordillera Region in the Philippines. In June 2014 she assumed responsibilities as the third UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In 2009 she received the Gabriela Silang Award from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples in recognition of the work she has done at the forefront of the struggle for Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Tauli-Corpuz also served as the Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues from 2005-2009. She is the founder of Tebtebba, the Indigenous People’s International Centre for Policy Research and Education. Tauli-Corpuz has actively worked with the World Bank on the safeguard policy review process. As an activist, she previously helped organize Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines to stop the Chico River Hydroelectric Dam and the Cellophil Resources Corporation. Her full bio:

Steven Heim is a Managing Director of Boston Common Asset Management (, a globally recognized sustainable investment firm. Steven has over 24 years of experience in the responsible investment field. Steven has worked to promote corporate transparency, accountability, and attention to sustainability issues. His efforts to protect the human rights of Indigenous Peoples have helped catalyze positive policy changes at U.S. and international companies including ConocoPhillips and Repsol that included direct engagement with Indigenous Peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Since 2007, Steven has chaired the advocacy subcommittee of US SIF Foundation’s Indigenous Peoples Working Group and he serves on the Board of Directors of Cultural Survival.

Indigenous Rights: A Case Study in Bottom Up Social Metrics

By Rebecca Adamson, an Indigenous economist, founder and President of First Peoples Worldwide,

Rebecca Adamson

Extractive industry projects may not be created to victimize women, but violence against women has become a major by-product of these project operations. Rampant exploitation of women happens when thousands of mostly male workers are housed in makeshift “man camps” located at the sites of company operations. For example, North Dakota’s Bakken oil field has boomed—over the past five years, it has increased daily oil production from 200,000 barrels to 1.1 million barrels, becoming the second largest oil-producing state in the country. Thousands of highly paid workers have flocked to the region. Within two years, the combined influx of cash and oil workers has tripled the rate of murders, aggravated assaults, and robberies. [1] Sex crimes, rape, prostitution, and human trafficking have increased by 20.2 percent. Business Insider summarized the region thusly: “law enforcement says Bakken is a made-to-order market for sex”. [2]

Violence against women is widespread across extractive industry site operations. It is social pollution as toxic as any chemical released into the environment. Yet in the SRI community, of the three principal criteria—environment, social, and governance—social metrics are proceeding the slowest in terms of measuring impact, corporate accountability, and investor risk. Currently, the Securities and Exchange Commission does not require corporate securities reporting on community relations or human rights due to their perceived lack of material relevance.[3] However, just last year, Ernst and Young elevated the “social license to operate” to the third place on its list of the greatest business risks to the mining industry.[4] John Ruggie, author of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the Guiding Principles), told Business Ethics that “for a world-class mining operation…there’s a cost somewhere between $20 million to $30 million a week for operational disruptions by communities” and that the time it takes to bring oil and gas projects online has “doubled over the course of the past ten years, creating substantial cost inflation”. Additionally, “analysis by Environmental Resources Management of delays associated with a sample of 190 of the world’s largest oil and gas projects (as ranked by Goldman Sachs) found that 73% of project delays were due to “above-ground” or non-technical risk, including stakeholder resistance”.[5]

The problem is that current efforts to engage the private sector on human rights are largely driven by the Guiding Principles, which offer a rigidly “top down” framework that does not account for local dynamics such as the cumulative impacts of multiple companies operating in close proximity to a community, or the spikes in violence against women.

Furthermore, the Guiding Principles mention women, along with Indigenous Peoples, only in passing, thereby largely excluding them from the corporate social responsibility conversation. The resulting lack of guidance and metrics enables companies to disclose minimal information about their social impacts—especially on vulnerable groups—which limits investors’ ability to measure social risks and keeps nefarious social costs invisible and running rampant.

First Peoples WorldwidePublished in November 2014, First Peoples Worldwide’s Indigenous Rights Risk Report (IR3) offers a case study for measuring one of the most pressing social risks to the extractive industries—Indigenous Peoples’ rights—from the bottom up. Designed over a two year process with input from Indigenous leaders and activists, financial analysts, and industry experts, IR3 assessed 52 US oil, gas, and mining companies to identify where their projects overlap with or impact Indigenous Peoples, and rated each project’s risk exposure for failing to obtain Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC). FPIC is recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as Indigenous Peoples’ right to give or withhold support to corporate activities that affect them. Eighty-nine percent of the 330 projects assessed had medium to high-risk exposure (a searchable database of the scorecards is available on First Peoples’ website at By assigning quantitative risk scores at the project level using a methodology designed to capture the complex undercurrents within both communities and companies, IR3 provides a framework—and three key lessons—for designing social metrics that can be applied beyond just Indigenous Peoples.

The first lesson is that the results of preliminary back testing indicate a possible correlation between the companies’ average project risk scores and their market growth between 2010 and 2014. Companies with lower average project risk scores outperformed companies with higher average project risk scores by 4.21 percent. There are some caveats to this figure resulting from our small sample size, but it’s an important step in demonstrating the connection between corporate social and financial performance.

The second lesson is that most companies operate with no governance structure whatsoever for addressing social risks. One of IR3’s risk indicators is Risk Management, which rates a company’s capacity to identify, manage, and mitigate social risks at the board level. Forty-eight of the 52 companies have virtually nothing in this regard. They have no board committees with community relations or human rights in their mandate, or board members with community relations or human rights expertise. Without the governance structure or company capacity to identify, manage, and mitigate social risks, investors are left with a Management by Headlines approach, and virtually all communities that host or are proximate to extractive projects are in danger—as we’ve seen in case after case of violence against women.

Reports of Native American women and girls being trafficked to the Bakken has put the Fort Berthold Reservation on high alert, but how are the companies operating in the region responding? They’re not. Companies ( including Apache, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Hess, and others[6] have taken zero responsibility for their workers’ collusion in the growing sex trade, increased drug violence, and general crime wave in Fort Berthold over the past two years, let alone the rest of the region. While some companies in the region are making efforts to reduce flaring and improve transparency, no substantive dialogue is taking place about social impacts. This trend of neglecting social risks ( has permeated corporate interactions with communities across the globe.

Indigenous women protest the situation facing Papuans. Source: Oceania Interrupted; Photography: Sangeeta Sing
Indigenous women protest the situation facing Papuans.
Source: Oceania Interrupted;
Photography: Sangeeta Sing

Other examples include the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Anvil Mining allegedly provided transportation (planes and vehicles) to the Congolese Armed Forces as they raped and tortured civilians near its Dikulushi copper mine. [7] In Papua New Guinea, Barrick Gold protects its Porgera gold mine with a private security force of nearly 450 personnel. As of 2013, at least 170 women have allegedly been raped by these officers. [8]Barrick implemented a remediation plan for victims after a scathing report was published by Human Rights Watch, emblematic of the aforementioned Management by Headlines approach. In 2010, the lone women’s shelter in the oil sands boomtown of Fort McMurray, Alberta became so overcrowded that the executive director held a three-week hunger strike to draw attention to its desperate need for greater support. [9]Local news sources cite the town as an epicenter of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases coinciding with an uptick in prostitution. In Oklahoma, a legislative panel found a “boom in child sex trade linked to the convergence of major oil trucking routes outside and near Oklahoma City”. Because companies resist correcting their systemic operational failures to address the social risks of their operations, thousands of women and children are facing sexual assault and violence. The exploitation of women is ubiquitous.

There is no doubt that each of these communities is paying a heavy price. Now is the time for investors to take a serious look at the financial, legal, and reputational consequences incurred by the companies that perpetrate them. IR3 demonstrates a reasonable likelihood that there are measurable business implications associated with the treatment of communities. While more work is needed to understand social risks more fully, in no way does this make them less material, and First Peoples is spearheading several initiatives to bring “S” up to speed with “E” and “G.” This circles back to the third lesson, which is that efforts to capture social costs must include place-based accountability and be informed by local context. Without place-based accountability to the communities where the negative effects of corporate development are most directly felt, social metrics will continue to exist only as high-level, “aspirational” guidance that fails to elicit positive change on the ground.

We are partnering with academic researchers to pilot a “True Costs Collaboratory” that will use participatory data gathering to create an inventory of community impacts of resource extraction in Appalachia, the Dakotas, the Mississippi Delta, and Alaska. The inventory will then be used as the basis for quantifying the social costs that are currently unaccounted for. We also intend to expand IR3 to Canadian oil, gas, and mining companies, whose widespread disregard for human rights—both domestically and abroad—has attracted global scrutiny.[10] We’ve established a valuation advisory committee comprised of ESG analysts from major SRI firms as well as two mining companies. The committee played a key role in helping to design the IR3 methodology, and continues to advise the back testing and other next steps. Finally, we’re partnering with four other Indigenous organizations to establish Shareholder Advocacy Leadership Training (SALT) Centers in Argentina, Canada, and Mexico. The SALT Centers will be positioned to facilitate linkages between investors and Indigenous Peoples in their respective regions, giving investors access to credible and real time data on corporate social performance directly from communities.

Moving forward, we plan to bring women’s groups such as Equality Now and the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking into the discussion, to raise awareness of extractive industry ties to the sex trade and the need for better social metrics to protect Indigenous and non-Indigenous women alike. This holds especially true as FPIC expands beyond Indigenous Peoples to include all communities demanding a voice in development activities that impact them.

To learn more about these efforts or if you’re interested in playing an active role, please contact Nick Pelosi at


Article by Rebecca Adamson, an Indigenous economist, Founder and President of First Peoples Worldwide (, the first US based global Indigenous Peoples NGO, which makes grants and provides technical assistance and advocacy directly to Indigenous-led development projects. Ms. Adamson has worked directly with grassroots tribal communities, both domestically and internationally, as an advocate of local tribal issues since 1970.

She established the premiere US development institute, First Nations Development Institute in 1980 and in 1997 she founded First Peoples Worldwide. Ms. Adamson’s work established the first micro-enterprise loan fund in the United States, the first tribal investment model, and, a national movement for reservation land reform. Her work established a new field of culturally appropriate, values-driven development, which led to legislation that established new standards of accountability regarding federal trust responsibility for Native Americans. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Bay and Paul Foundations and the Calvert Social Investment Fund. As a trustee of Calvert, Rebecca partnered with the Fund to create the first Indigenous Peoples’ rights investment screen in 1999, and led the creation of the Indigenous Rights Risk Report, the first quantitative assessment of corporate risk exposure to Indigenous Peoples’ rights, in 2014.

 In 2015 she has established four Shareholder Advocacy Leadership Training Centers located in Argentina, Mexico and Canada as a new strategy for Indigenous leaders in addressing extractive industry on Indigenous territories. She was appointed as an advisor to the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Multi-Stakeholder Group, serving from 2014 to the present. She holds a Masters in Science in Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University (formerly New Hampshire College) in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she has also taught a graduate course on Indigenous Economics within the Community Economic Development Program, and a Doctor in Humane Letters degree from Dartmouth College.

Contact:  Rebecca L. Adamson,  First Peoples Worldwide

Work Phone: (540) 899-6545  or  Email:

Article Reference Notes:






[6] Other companies in the Bakken include Arsenal Energy, Continental Resources, Earthstone Energy, Emerald Oil, Enerplus, EOG Resources, Forestar Group, Halcon Resources, Kodiak Oil and Gas, Linn Energy, Marathon Oil, MDU Resources Group, Newfield, Norstra Energy, Northern Oil and Gas, Oasis, Occidental Petroleum, Penn Virginia Corporation, Petro-Hunt, Petro-Quest, Prima Exploration, Questar, Resolute Energy, Samson Resources, Slawson Exploration, SM Energy, Statoil, Triangle Petroleum, US Energy, Whiting Petroleum, WPX Energy, XTO, and Yuma.






Responsible Stewardship of Native American Assets

By Susan White, a citizen of the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin & Director of Oneida Trust and Enrollments,

In the early 1990’s The Oneida Nation located in Wisconsin was one of the first Native Nations to formally adopt sustainable and responsible investing (SRI) policies for the Nation’s Trust investments. The policy directed its investment managers to divest from companies that harmed Native peoples or that caused significant harm to the environment. The Oneida Trust Committee, a nine-member committee elected by the general membership, has supported staff to continue to develop the Trusts’ SRI initiative. What began as mostly avoidance of selected companies has transformed into a permanent model of social, environmental and governance policies in order to help Indian Country.

Beginning in the 1980s many US Indian Nations have either created wealth or at least an income stream from Tribal casinos and other equity ventures. But Indian Country as a whole still suffers from various economic, social and environmental issues. Tribes needed to “catch-up” and invest in infrastructure, roads, sewer and water systems and community programs. Many are still catching up today. For some Tribes the budget allowed for other types of investment including investing in the public capital markets.

Once empowered to invest in the capital markets, the Oneida Trust Committee looked at some of the investments that were being made on their behalf. A few of the investments were in companies that harm Indian Country. Primary issues involve land rights and the environmental degradation of land by the extractive resource industry, as well as the profit-driven commercialization of Native images without compensation to Native America.

 Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin

Using their leverage as investors, Oneida worked with other investors to lobby companies to improve their social, environmental and governance policies and performance in order to help Indian Country and Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Avoidance evolved into activism. Here are a few examples of how the Oneida Trust Committee worked in solidarity with several Nations to affect positive social behavior by corporations.

The Committee worked with the Hopi and Navajo concerning Peabody Energy’s slurring coal with drinking water from the Hopi and Navajo N-Aquifer to the Mojave Generating Station. Oneida also attended and provided a statement on behalf of its brother Tribe the Onondaga at the annual Honeywell meeting concerning the company’s pollution of the Onondaga’s lake and land. The Oneida is engaging a major corporate sponsor of the National Football League on the Washington, DC team’s disparaging name.

Oneida’s attendance and participation in these shareholder meetings may not have had a direct impact on the discontinuance of the coal slurry, or on the Onondaga Tribe, Honeywell, and the E.P.A. entering into a three-way trusteeship to clean up the lake and land, but the shareholder activism brought new light to issues shareholders may never have seen before.

Unfortunately, few Tribal investors, who are institutional in scope, are using their investments to influence corporate policies. The Oneida Trust Committee continues to recruit other Nations to adopt SRI policies. There is definitely interest from other Tribes to participate in the SRI initiatives; but they have been unable to organize and adopt formal policies like Oneida.

While Tribes develop their own SRI policy the Oneida are committed to assist Tribes where they can. The Oneida Trust Committee helped draft and pass a resolution by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), a non-profit organized as a representative congress of American Indians and Alaska Natives. NCAI serves to develop consensus on national priority issues that impact Tribal sovereignty. The resolution states NCAI will act as a clearinghouse to keep Tribes apprised of issues related to SRI. NCAI is to publish and maintain a list of companies that do harm to Native people or where there is significant shareholder activity in which Tribes who wish to participate can get involved.

Since the mid-1990s, the Oneida have been a member of US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, the US membership association for professionals, firms, institutions and organizations engaged in sustainable, responsible and impact investing. US SIF and its members advance investment practices that consider environmental, social and corporate governance criteria to generate long-term competitive financial returns and positive societal impact. As Director of the Oneida Trust, I co-founded the Indigenous Peoples Working Group (IPWG) of US SIF and serve as its co-chair. I have spoken at Native finance conferences and US SIF annual conferences to help build bridges and understanding. US SIF recently published “Creating a Sustainable World: A Guide to Responsible Stewardship of American Indian Assets.” Download the report here-

Through US SIF, the Oneida Trust Committee and Department have been able to engage corporations and enter shareholder meetings by networking and collaborating with other sustainable and responsible investors.

Through its shareholder advocacy work, Oneida has assisted with the discontinuance of the manufacturing of the Crazy Horse line of clothing by Liz Claiborne. The name was being used without the consent of Crazy Horse’s descendants. Through its community investing strategy, the Oneida have provided an inter-Tribal loan to the Lakota Loan Fund. The seven-year relationship continues today.

The Oneida’s SRI activities have helped several major corporations to change their policies that impact Indian Country. The following is taken directly from the “Creating a Sustainable World: A Guide to Responsible Stewardship of American Indian Assets” report mentioned above:

“By crafting an investment strategy aligned with a Tribe’s mission and principles, Tribal leaders and asset managers can ensure that a Tribe’s assets work for—not against—Native nation-building. When Native investment dollars are funneled into corporations with historically poor practices toward American Indians and are not used to pressure companies to reform, the results are counterproductive. American Indian Tribes and organizations can greatly enhance their impact by establishing guidelines allowing them to be more strategic in their investment decisions, use their shareholder status as leverage with companies and affirmatively invest in communities.” 

Perhaps Native Americans are the original sustainable and responsible investors as they have invested in their communities to strengthen and foster their self-determination as a Nation. By working with other investors the Oneida can help Indian Country be stewards of Mother Earth, insure Native Americans are included in Free Prior and Informed Consent, and insure Native images are respected and not used to dehumanize.

With proper awareness and education, all Tribal Governments with investment portfolios can use the tools and connections that Oneida has employed. Even non-Native investors that support Indian Country and the rights of Indigenous Peoples work together in solidarity to better the world. As long as the Oneida Nation has investment portfolios, we will be involved in SRI in one form or another to meet its investing mission: The Oneida Trust Committee recognizes the responsibility to invest in a manner that does not enable harm to the environment or the spiritual and cultural values of Native Americans. The Trust Committee prefers to invest in companies that make positive contributions to alleviating the problems facing society and the environment.


Article by Susan White, a citizen of the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin and Director of Oneida Trust and Enrollments. She directs two multi-operational departments in capital strategies for protection and growth of trust assets. Susan maintains the Trust’s sustainable and responsible investment philosophy by coordinating shareholder activism for Indigenous Peoples. Susan is also responsible for the maintenance and protection of Tribal citizen records for the elected Oneida Trust/Enrollment Committee.  

Susan and the T/E Committee won a Harvard Honoring Nations – American Indian Economic Development award in 2010. She received the SRI Service Award in 2011. Susan is a speaker at Native American Finance and Trust Officers Conferences and the SRI Conference.

Susan serves as co-chair of the Indigenous Peoples Working Group of US SIF:  The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, the First Nations Oweesta Corporation Loan Committee, the Women’s Fund of Greater Green Bay Emeritus, the Oneida Ladies Auxiliary VFW Post 7784, and the American Foundation for Counseling Services Ethics in Business Selection Committee. Susan resides in Oneida with her husband and two sons.

I’d Rather Be David Than Goliath

By Jason Campbell, founder and CEO of Arete Development Group,

Jason Campbell


Arete Development GroupIn spite of my lack of writing prowess I have chosen to share a story that in many ways parallels one that many of us are familiar with: the story of David and Goliath. Before we follow the path of David and before we identify Goliath, I would first like to share my story.

My entry into the world of Sustainable and Responsible Investing (SRI) occurred after successfully navigating an MBA program at Gonzaga University, after which a professor forwarded me a notice that US SIF’s Indigenous Peoples Working Group (IPWG) was offering a Certified Financial Planner® scholarship. US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment ( is the US membership association for professionals, firms, institutions and organizations engaged in sustainable, responsible, and impact investing. In 2009, US SIF pledged their financial and professional support to enable a Tribal citizen to engage in socially responsible investing via financial planning in a reservation setting. I applied and won the scholarship. While I initially saw this as a good opportunity to learn more about financial planning and socially responsible investing, I did not fully envision the opportunities for Indian Country that were lying just ahead. The CFP® course provided me with the tools and framework to conduct individual financial planning. I am utilizing what I learned through the financial planning coursework and my experience in sustainable and responsible investing to assist Tribal governments. I am working with the Spokane Tribe and Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes located in the Northwestern United States.

In the fall of 2011, I moderated a panel discussion “Business and Indigenous Rights: Why Corporations Need to Act Now” at the SRI Conference in New Orleans. The panel explored the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration) and a specific framework of engagement in the Declaration – Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). This breakout session was one of the first to present the concept that there are financial costs to corporations for ignoring FPIC principles.

At the SRI Conference I had the opportunity to join a tour of a community investing project in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans which was completely devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Make it Right Foundation, in collaboration with the local community, was working to help rebuild the Lower 9th Ward using the highest standards of green/sustainable building along with guiding principles defined by the local community. During the tour I saw how this collaboration was helping a devastated community. It crossed my mind that a similar project might work on American Indian reservations. Tom Darden, Executive Director of Make It Right, attended the SRI Conference, where he was kind enough to let me share with him the parallels I saw between the disaster of Hurricane Katrina and the economic disaster areas where many Tribal reservations are located in the United States. My question for Tom and Make It Right was whether they would share their innovative model, a community-driven approach to socially responsible and sustainable neighborhood development with Native Tribes and reservations in dire need. They said “yes” and we started with the Ft. Peck Reservation in northeastern Montana. Through a process employing extensive collaboration between the Tribes of the Ft. Peck Indian Reservation’s leadership, Tribal citizens, and with Make it Right Foundation there will be 20 families living in LEED Platinum homes (funded through a low income housing tax credit) in the fall of 2015. [USA Today article on the homes-]. This is step one of a much larger nation building vision driven by core principles generated by Tribal citizens of the reservation.

Earlier in 2011 before I approached Make It Right at the SRI Conference, I inquired of Steven Heim (Steering committee member of US SIF’s Indigenous Peoples’ Working Group and Director of ESG Research/Shareowner Engagement at Boston Common Asset Management) about how I could better understand sustainable, responsible and impact investing particularly on the institutional side. This would be increasingly important to understand due to the work I was starting to do with Tribes. Steven’s support and commitment to my professional development and his creative approach to solutions led to some research work that summer with Boston Common Asset Management and the Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) team that Steven leads. The Boston Common family welcomed me, and for that support I will forever be thankful. As you are about to learn, my time with Boston Common’s ESG team has led to a series of events that has fostered tremendous growth and innovation in my professional life particularly in combining sustainable, responsible and impact investment strategies with FPIC principles on my reservation and across Indian Country.

During my internship with Boston Common my sister sent me an article from my local Spokane newspaper. A Spokane Tribal citizen was on the front page of a multiple full-page article outlining the horrific impacts of a legacy uranium mine on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Back in the late 1950’s a unit of Newmont Mining led the Spokane Tribe to believe that extracting uranium in support of the Cold War would create desperately needed jobs and be totally safe. Newmont used the Tribe as a disposable workforce that is feeling the adverse effects even today. Newmont also never bothered to clean up the mine site that went dormant in the 1980’s and is now a $200 million EPA Superfund site. The resulting contamination includes high cancer rates and other diseases, contamination of water, sacred sites, medicinal plant gathering sites, and elk calving grounds.

Fortunately for me, Lauren Compere, a member of Boston Common’s ESG team had led a multi-year shareholder engagement with Newmont. She shared with me her perspectives on Newmont’s long history and pattern of human rights issues in relations to Indigenous communities around the world. She also shared how shareholders have advocated with the company to improve its practices. My new knowledge of this type of advocacy allowed me to reach out to the Spokane Tribal Business Council to propose a shareholder engagement approach with Newmont, which the Tribe approved.

Small tribes like the Spokane Tribe are “Davids” and typically have very little chance of gaining traction or a successful outcome when they engage with “Goliath” giants like Newmont, one of the world’s largest mining companies. One example is the Western Shoshone of Nevada and their decades-long battle to retain their lands and fight development like Newmont’s gold mines. The Spokane Tribe had a few advantages due to its increased capacity in SRI and the recent adoption of the UN Declaration, specifically the doctrine of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC). The Spokane Tribe also had two starting points with the company. Newmont has corporate governance policies that commit to FPIC principles plus Newmont is a member of the International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM). The ICMM has an Indigenous Peoples and Mining Position Statement reflecting FPIC. Though Newmont’s governance policies existed they had only made cursory attempts to create informative dialogue with Spokane Tribal leadership and Tribal citizens. The framework for creating fully informed communities for the purpose of providing formal consent to Newmont was never reached and perhaps never intended.

As a community, the Spokane Tribe had a choice to make. We could wait for engagement efforts to improve with Newmont by following a few paths; the Tribe chose to adopt two different paths simultaneously. We formally engaged Newmont in very public venues and reminded them of their own governance policies and the ICMM Position on Indigenous Peoples. We asked Newmont to formally take the opportunity to further implement FPIC on the ground, on our Reservation for the purpose of developing a fully informed community that would be able to provide consent to future actions by Newmont. Newmont’s Group Executive for Environmental and Social Responsibility publicly said “yes” to our proposal.

The Spokane Tribe also decided in the interest of nation building it was necessary to develop our own specific governance reflective of FPIC because of our connection to historic values of stewardship and a Seven Generation perspective. The tough part was finding an example of FPIC that was codified. Many Indigenous nations, governmental agencies, NGOs, environmental advocates, institutional investors, and industry leaders talk about FPIC. But we kept hitting dead ends in our search for specific written FPIC codes that would result in practical implementation.

I reached out to the US SIF’s IPWG Steering Committee for resources. Carla Fredericks, Director of the American Indian Law Clinic at the University of Colorado at Boulder, stepped up to assist. Carla and her law students dove into the work, connecting with our community stakeholders and Tribal leadership producing for the Spokane Tribe what we believe is a very solid body of work codifying FPIC.

Sadly, Newmont has chosen a different path. After an intense, lengthy, educational process regarding FPIC, the Spokane Tribe and Newmont had collectively developed a framework for community engagement. The framework would be implemented through a community liaison from Spokane Tribe for the purpose of fully informing the Tribal community about the impacts on Tribal culture, environment, social and governance systems and the effects over the short, mid and long-term. Newmont decided to make the community liaison position contingent on the Tribe making concessions on other parts of the agreement rather than the position being a fundamental cornerstone necessary for an honest and successful collaborative relationship. All of the public commitment in front of many Indigenous Nations, governmental agencies, NGO’s, environmental advocates, institutional investors, financial planners, and industry leaders turned out to be for the benefit of public perception rather than true collaboration.

I have told the story of one David and one Goliath. Here Goliath is one of the world’s largest gold mining companies. But I think Goliath is the extractive industry sector as a whole. Regardless, the risk exposure to shareholders of extractives companies is ever increasing. The hiding places of the Goliaths are all but disappearing and their devastating impacts on Indigenous Communities can no longer be concealed. Social media is putting corporations under a magnifying glass. This is an environment where Tribal nations like the Spokane Tribe of Indians innovate policy to assert their sovereignty reflecting historic cultural values woven with best practices. And, like David, Tribal nations have cast a stone at Goliath through governance reflecting inherent rights.The result of that governance, like the impact of the stone, results in risk to the company and the sector.

The financial risk to shareholders from the liabilities of extractive companies and their failure to adopt clear FPIC guidelines is real. The former era of blatant disregard for Indigenous Peoples is obsolete. It will become increasingly difficult for mining companies to operate as they have in the past in a “Free, Prior and Informed Consent” world as the UN Declaration becomes implemented more and more. Investors are demanding fuller disclosure and transparency from these types of companies. With support from investors, the Spokane Tribe and other Tribal Nations are now standing up to Goliath. Please stand with us.


Article by Jason Campbell  Jason’s organization, Areté Development Group, was launched after graduating with an MBA from Gonzaga University. Areté Development Group focuses on serving American Indian sovereignty by building connected self-sustaining communities. Through culturally based policy development woven with cutting edge practices and strategic partners, Areté Development Group strives to contribute to a quality of life for citizens of Native nations that reflects the core values of individual Tribes.

The development of sustainable capacity building opportunities, of which, socially responsible investing of financial assets is a part, represents the historic cultural values of stewardship and generosity.

Mr. Campbell has worked with Boston Common Asset Management on the Environmental, Social, and Governance team where he conducted corporate research and analysis. Jason also participated in meetings and events of the Indigenous Peoples Working Group ( of US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment ( that seeks to bring together Native and Non-Native communities in the area of sustainable, responsible, and impact investing (SRI).

The information in this article should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. All investments involve risk, including the risk of losing principal.


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