There are many problems facing Native American Tribes in the United States, healthcare, employment, food security, education, and very importantly permanent housing. Despite being the longest tenants of the land, they are often left out of participation in the same credit economy as folks not on tribal land due to something called Sovereign Immunity.
In another life, I was head of Foreclosure and Collections to the Board and Executive Staff of Twinstar Credit Union. They are, in my opinion, a good company, who really cares about their members. I was in the unenviable position of collecting and foreclosing on homes and collecting vehicles that were past due. Having been in collections for law firms in the role of a legal assistant, paralegal, first-person litigator, and collector for years, I became very familiar with and eventually taught the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for the Northwest Credit Union Association.
In the Northwest, especially in Washington, we have a fair amount of tribal land and tribal citizens. I learned a lot about how one can and can’t collect regarding accounts and property on Native Land, and while not impossible to do so, it is honestly more trouble than it is worth. It is the legal equivalent of collecting something in another country. Sovereign Immunity is an important right for Native American Tribes, it gives them the ability to work with autonomy regarding certain civil and state laws. If you weren’t familiar with the situation you may think “What a great thing! Wish I had that”. Surely Sovereign Immunity is a great thing, but it complicates lending practices from banks and credit unions.
Because of this, along with land ownership issues, gainfully employed indigenous people may find they have trouble getting housing built on the reservation. Imagine having to commute a long way for work, and then not being able to find a home to purchase and having to build your entire home “cash due” to lending difficulties. FEMA gave tribes 1,000 mobile homes leftover from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, applications from tribal governments. Even though there were reports and confirmations the homes contained potentially unsafe levels of formaldehyde. R. David Paulison, FEMA administrator from 2005 to 2009, told the National Congress of American Indians that 110 tribes requested more than 5,500 mobile homes. These were different from the post-Katrina “travel trailers,” the kind that are typically hooked to vehicles for vacation trips and that tests had shown emitted excessive formaldehyde, causing respiratory problems in some occupants. Up through 2009, 1,300 mobile homes were given to almost 90 tribes, tribes which were required to pay transportation and hookup costs, FEMA officials said in an email. Even though the trailers are considered by many experts unsafe, demand for the trailers remained high. Imagine having to breathe embalming fluid every day just to have a place to live. You could be forgiven for thinking that maybe your country considers you an acceptable loss.
“There’s so much unmet housing need in Indian country, any assistance with housing is always appreciated,” Mellor Willie said in a truthout.org article, a Navajo who was executive director of the National American Indian Housing Council in 2011. “The 500 homes alone could just barely meet the needs of one of our larger tribes.”
…“One legislator deplored the fact that “there are 90,000 homeless or under-housed Indian families, and that 30% of Indian housing is overcrowded and less than 50% of it is connected to a public sewer.” (March 8, 2004, Indian Country Today).
…40% of on-reservation housing is considered inadequate (2003, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights). The waiting list for tribal housing is long; the wait is often three years or more, and overcrowding is inevitable. Most families will not turn away family members or anyone who needs a place to stay. It is not uncommon for 3 or more generations to live in a two-bedroom home with inadequate plumbing, kitchen facilities, cooling, and heating.
…While most Americans take running water, telephones, and electricity for granted, many reservation families live without these amenities. On a seriously stretched budget, utilities are viewed as luxuries compared to food and transportation. Overcrowding, substandard dwellings, and lack of utilities all increase the potential for health risk, especially in rural and remote areas where there is a lack of accessible healthcare.”…
No utilities, not enough housing, compounded health issues due to subpar living situations, the formaldehyde isn’t even the worst part. We are losing a whole generation in overcrowded unventilated trailers due to COVID-19 transmission running rampant through Native communities. This is all an inevitable side effect of economic conditions compared with a difficult to navigate legal situation which compounds investment and lending but preserves autonomy.
So what does this have to do with hemp?
Other than being used by some indigenous peoples for hundreds and by some estimates thousands of years (CBD oil is not new to many Native Tribes), hemp could be the solution to issues of housing, employment, food solutions in high-value food from the seeds, and then by proxy create healthy and independent utilities. A push to grow hemp on Tribal Lands has been in play by several groups for years. These reasons again focused on land, Sovereign Immunity benefits, and low-cost available labor.
The key to hemp-based housing independence for Native American Tribes is in industrial hemp, decortication, and hemp-based building materials. This can lead to advanced highly technical jobs in meta-material production and cannabinoid isolation as well as in a phase two build-out. Growing the hemp on-site makes a lot of sense, you lower costs and emissions. Building materials can be made on the reservation or reserve, and there is no need to look outside for a bulk of the housing structural material. This material can be food grade, and certainly formaldehyde-free. Homes can sequester massive amounts of carbon, in some tests 30,000 lbs after going in the ground, as well as sequestering massive amounts of carbon in the hemp fields themselves during harvest.
Because we are processing the material on tribal land, emissions and costs of production are low. Because these processes offset carbon, a carbon capture program could be established for carbon credits to help offset tribal, government, state, and private and charitable contributions. These homes can last a long time, unlike the trailers. If we housed every indigenous person who is homeless, and moved everyone into more trailers, in 10 years the trailers would be falling apart, we would solve nothing. This is a way for trailer companies to make money at the expense of the health of people. The pyramids are still standing, we can make toxin-free bricks with hemp that will stand for generations, withstand 500 miles per hour winds, and 9.2 earthquakes.
This means homes can be passed down. Indigenous people will no longer be robbed of the opportunity of inheritance. When one lives in a disposable home there is nothing to pass down to your family. Many tribes have seen their populations and young people leaving, it is a systematic destruction of culture caused by a credit problem that hemp and our technology can now solve. This is a big push as to why we developed a decortication, battery, extraction, farming, and building solution IP for HPLCSolution.com and SantaFeFarms.com. We find these building tools and technologies can empower communities to build a better world. If we build these homes with solar power, rainwater capture, and wells, and hemp building materials then indigenous communities can modernize without creating a carbon impact.
We need to perfect this in the United States for the whole world because this problem is a global problem. If we can’t solve this here with all our resources, we are all doomed.
Just to give one example, air conditioners. Forget all of the massive carbon emissions from building new properties without hemp, think about the energy use of air conditioning. By 2040 up to 40% of the world’s energy will be for cooling. This is desperately needed in China, Africa, South America, Australia, and India. Those are billions of people. Billions of people coming online potentially burning coal, building houses, creating solar heat islands in cities. Batteries, steel, fiberglass, glass, plastic, string, rope, cloth, building materials all these items have improvements that can be made to them with hemp derivatives.
We can correct course; we can change the fate of the world right now, by using pyrolysis with carbon capture, carbon meta-materials production, solar panels, distributed energy carbon-based batteries from hemp, hemp syngas, hemp biofuel, hemp plastics, hemp cloth, and most importantly carbon-neutral products built close enough to distribution that you overcome the transportation problem with regional facilities that distribute locally first before shipping. You must install this infrastructure from the start, then you don’t need to replace it all later. Water capture roofs, on-site energy generation from wind and solar, and the hemp building materials solve the housing issues for indigenous people. These processes regarding building and farming are not costly. If we can do this in the United States first for our Indigenous Peoples and Nations who have been left behind and honestly done wrong by our system, then the world can follow the low-cost green example.
If the tribes are willing, we can ask them to come through for our country again. Just like how Sacagawea, Jim Thorpe, and The Code Talkers helped lead the explorers, athletes, and troops of our country, we can empower these people with an investment in everyone’s future. If we can do this then the Old World can lead us from a New World, to a Sustainable World.
Written by Clayton Turner