Indian Country Business and Finance

Indian Country Business and Finance

In getting deals and projects done in Indian Country — whether as a tribe or tribal enterprise, or as a business or corporate client — a firm comprehension of both Indian law and in business and financial law is essential.  Our American Indian/Native American lawyers and business teams strive to collaborate to provide the skilled legal services necessary from each discipline to our Indian Country business clients.


This collaboration has resulted in our firm’s handling Indian Country business transactions and projects recently, including:

  • A major casino and resort project, in which our securities, financial, construction, and Indian law attorneys served as issuer’s counsel for raising almost $300 million in high-yield bonds on Wall Street
  • Construction contracts on several casino projects
  • Acquisition and financing of a golf club by a tribe for a major resort
  • Negotiation and preparation of development agreements for major Indian Country casino and retail projects
  • Numerous financing transactions for Indian Country projects, including conventional loans and mezzanine financing on Wall Street ranging from under $1 million to in excess of $40 million
  • Development of major retail projects on Indian lands
  • Land acquisitions for Indian Country projects, including a variety of Indian lands real estate matters, such as acquiring and quieting title to fractionated, undivided fee interests in Indian trust lands
  • Indian Country taxation matters
  • Assistance with obtaining tax-exempt status for tribal entities, including tribal religious entities
  • Counseling in regulatory matters in Indian Country, including licensing, permitting, and environmental regulations

Because of the unique issues involved in business deals in Indian Country, obtaining financing for projects requires effective planning for the particular deal, and then appropriate experience to get it done.  By drawing on all of the talents of our firm, we assist our clients — tribal and business and corporate clients—with all aspects of transactions and developments in Indian Country.  Our attorneys collaborate to provide all-inclusive legal services to Indian Country businesses in the following areas, among others.

Applying our securities law capacity in Indian Country

Our securities law team, one of the largest and most experienced in the region, has substantial experience in raising capital for large Indian Country projects through a variety of means.  Our securities law attorneys have handled financing for major projects on Indian lands, including through high-yield bond financing on Wall Street.  This team has experience in the regular process necessary to such financing, including in conducting due diligence, in preparing offering memorandums, in negotiating and drafting bond indentures and related financial agreements, and in handling other securities law matters.  But our team also has experience with the sovereignty and tribal and Indian aspects of such deals.

Using our knowledge to finance the transaction

Our firm was founded 75 years ago as a banking and financial firm, and financial services remains one of our key practices today.  Our banking and finance attorneys have handled Indian Country loan transactions large and small, and they have experience in addressing the unique issues that arise in such transactions relating to sovereignty, recourse, and collateral, among others.  This team is well-versed in finding creating solutions where necessary to get the deal done and the project financed.

On Indian Country transactions, our financial services attorneys work with attorneys in our firm whose practices focus on Indian law, real estate, construction, securities, and other areas to make certain the deal is handled as an all-around business transaction—not just as an Indian law transaction.

Applying our business, tax, and related legal services in Indian Country

As Indian Country-based business has expanded, so has the need for general business counseling.  Working in collaboration with attorneys in our corporate governance/corporate services practice area, we counsel enterprises based in Indian Country on the formation of appropriate corporate entities and assist in the formation of such entities.

Our Indian Country business counseling goes beyond simply business and corporate counseling.  We offer tax law advice in areas including the tax-law consequences of financial transactions and the application of state sales tax to materials purchased for Indian Country projects.  Our tax-exempt organizations practice recently assisted a Native American Church chapter in obtaining not-for-profit status granted by the Internal Revenue Service.

Continuing our services after the deal

Our Indian Country clients draw not only on our business legal services to get the deal done, but also for continuing assistance afterwards.  Our labor and employment group offers experience in the creation of management structures, in negotiating management contracts, and in crafting related agreements such as confidentiality agreements.  Our firm has extensive experience in developing employee handbooks.  Our employee benefits practice offers our Indian Country clients with assistance in creating and implementing benefit plans.