"For a subject worked and reworked so often in novels, motion pictures, and television, American Indians remain probably the least understood and most misunderstood Americans of us all."

-John F. Kennedy in
the introduction to The American Heritage Book of Indians

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Get Cash Fast" Indians

Today, I caught a television commercial that made me stop in my tracks. Watching the local evening news, I have gotten used to seeing the “get cash fast” commercials that are a sad by-product of our current economic recession. What I haven't gotten used to is this...

The commercial opens with man in a business suite looking straight at the camera. His long hair rests gently on his padded shoulders as a picturesque mountain scene completes the background. He talks in the quick authoritative voice of the TV pitchman:

“How would you like up to $2500.00 almost instantly? Here at Western Sky Financial, we'll lend you this money almost instantly and with no collateral whatsoever. Sure, it's expensive, but you can pay it down quick to not pay as many fees. Call us now.”



And here's the kicker. At the bottom, in larger-than-average legal print, is this line: “100% Native American owned business.” Doing a little more internet research, I stumbled across their website.

So this got me thinking... Okay, yeah so you're 100% Native American owned but why make such a big deal out of it? I present to you three possible reasons.

#1 Marketing
Did you know that there are entire advertising agencies in the United States that specialize in marketing to specific ethnic groups. There are agencies that cater to African-Americans, others target the Latino or Spanish-speaking populations, and still others generally on the West Coast that market to Asian-Americans. Could this TV commercial possibly be an example of an advertisement aimed at Native American customers? Possibly, but probably not. First of all, is there even a big enough customer base of cash-strapped Native Americans looking to get super high-interest loans? Second, why would it be playing here in southeast Michigan where the native population is significant in absolute terms but only a fraction of the total population. Yes, Detroit was harder hit than most areas but it still doesn't explain the Indian line. Could it possibly be aimed at other populations who hold an affinity for Indians, your hobbyists and other Indian enthusiasts? Probably not since the commercial is so straightforward and the guy is wearing a business suit not a headdress! So marketing, I say probably not...

#2 Pride
At the bottom of the website in big bold letters you find the following statement, “Western Sky Financial, LLC, is a Native American-owned business operating within the boundaries of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.” Located in central South Dakota, the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation has some of the worst poverty in the entire country. More than half the population struggles under the poverty line with depression and despair are all too common. Just this past summer, I drove through the reservation myself experiencing the rural poverty and isolation firsthand.

With conditions like this, the people need more than a financial stimulus, they need a stimulus of the spirit. Hope is the key to turning around this downward spiral and lifting up the hearts and minds of the people. Programs that provide a safe haven for youth as well as a new health center are examples of this turn around. The TV commercial for Western Sky Financial could be a further example. You can almost feel the pride of the business owner as he tells the ad man, “Yes, I want it to say 'a Native American-owned business operating within the boundaries of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.'” Maybe the owner(s) of Western Sky Financial lifted themselves out of poverty and are now proud business owners. In a community where most people don't have jobs, let alone own their own businesses, this is a major accomplishment and one to be rightly proud of.


#3 Not the USA!!!!
Well, if you've been to the Western Sky Financial website by now, you may have noticed that I didn't include the full statement above. In its entirety it reads, “Western Sky Financial, LLC, is a Native American-owned business operating within the boundaries of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, a sovereign nation located within the United States of America.” That's right, the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation is its own sovereign nation located within the United States of America. If you've sat through a basic High School American History class, you should know this. Then again, if you find yourself deep in debt and you are actually considering taking out a loan with 199.98% interest, you probably are one of those people who slept through history class.

This advertisement draws upon all the fears of the right-wing Tea Party movement. If you truly believe that your sovereign nation, the United States of America, is on the brink of financial meltdown, then where better to look to than another sovereign nation for help! Or maybe you actually need $2500.00 almost instantly but you wouldn't dare ask for it from one of those greedy, bailed out, stimulus-money-loving banks. Why, turn to your local neighborhood Indian reservation. They are after all their own sovereign nation, they can't possibly be connected to that fiasco in Washington! Western Sky Financial has subtlety turned anti-government angst into its own marketing strategy. (Just don't tell the customers about the billions of federal dollars and stimulus money that rightly goes to Indian Country every year, it will just ruin the illusion)


Update: New Post 12/5/2010  (click link below)

Western Sky Financial: Take Two

31 comments:

  1. So nice to "listen" to someone who knows of what he speaks. You have been there and seen it with you own eyes. You are very informative.

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    1. Agree with you Momdogg! Dood tips for costumers....

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  2. It was still nice to see a Native American business advertisement. I'd like to know who the guy in the commercial is.

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  3. Is it possible that there is some type of legal loophole that they are taking advantage of? In many states the pay day lenders are under much heavier regulation, including laws which cap the interest rates as well as the amount they can lend.

    So I assume that the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation doesn't have any laws like that, and somehow they can operate in other states (get clients there) and not worry about the lending laws in those states.

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  4. Would you have had the same response if it was made known as "An All Woman Owned Business" with the same stats throughout the commercial, website, and disclosures? Montel Williams has Money Mutual Pay Day loans, and that is ridiculously fee as well as check out your credit cards, that don't even make it possibly to read between the lines to see how high of an interest charge you are paying plus fees.

    I think America needs to realize that Indians, as they call us, will be an economic force that every nation and creed will be coming to us for mortgages, loans, cars, and whatever other business "Indians" stereotypically did not conquer in the past. This is new age Nativetism. Get used to it, and yes we are SOVEREIGN NATIONS within the US and for a good reason that you will not find in history books, Look up Federal Law and read it carefully, as well as all proclamations and treaties that are oh so well forgotten.

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  5. My thing is this. I do not believe that is actually true about them being part of the Cherokee Tribe. My wife filled out an app (we were desperate and waiting for my retro unemployment to come in) and she got a call from Cash Call instead of Western Sky. Now Western Sky's website says nothing about their affiliation with cash call at all. I'm thinking there is something illegal going on with their representation.

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  6. Be VERY careful before you do business with this company. If you go to their website, look at the rates link because it has some very interesting things shown. If you are approved for a $2600 loan, $75 of that is the loan fee and the actual amount that will be deposited into your checking account will be $2,525. HOWEVER, if you are only approved for the $1,500 loan (which I'm sure most people are) the loan fee is not $75, but $500 and you will only have $1,000 deposited into your checking account. The APR on the $2,600 loan is 139.34% and for the $1,500 it is 199.98% They say that their rates are not as high as payday loans...well, let's do some math. Most payday loans have a 2 week payback and end up with an APR of about 480-500%. Let's say you take the $1,500 loan with Western Sky and pay it back in 2 weeks. You will pay them $1,500 and $500 of that is the fee. The $500 "fee" for 2 weeks use of $1000 comes out to about 1200% APR. If you wait a month, then it is 600%. They say there is no penalty for paying off your loan early, but there really is because you pay the penalty up-front in the form of a ridiculous $500 loan fee.

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  7. I can appreciate your "breakdown" of Western Sky's financial scam. However, I cannot understand how in the hell you can blame "Tea Party" affiliates or as you say "right wingers"! The insanity in DC is out of control and lets face it, it is killing our country! And when you look at who is calling the shots (or rather shooting at us) it is both parties! But be real, the Democrats are the main thrust. Obama and his pals are arrogant, greedy liars. And unfortunately, alot of the American public fell for his BS in the election. So, I just say look at the whole picture.

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  8. Nothing like preying on people at there most desperate.

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  9. it's not rocket science. You get approved, and once again your in debt. The reservation has it's own laws. They can do any thing they want. Just because they are allegely native american doesn't mean they have morals or principals. They aren't twisting anyones arm. I actually needed money and completed their online application. After i actually saw the interest rates I would actually be in deeper debt. I dont mind paying back with interest, but lets be for real. Now I continue to get calls from the lender. They are determined because I wont answer the call. Billy "crazyhorse" Paulk

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  10. lol, well if there not in the US can you take the money and not pay it back?

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  11. Well let see, the Europeans took the Natives life and land and pride,through force. Now the Natives are doing the same thing, only NOT through force. Hmmm....who is in the wrong here. I havn't seen any Natives coming in to my home and killing my family and burning my crops. And no one has FORCED me to make a loan. You've done your research, so obviously, they are not hiding or scaming. If it was a scam, that info would not be available for you to research. They are upfront about their fees, so it is up to someone to decide if they want to make the loan or not.

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  12. Not in the USA means they can apply an "law" of theirs and you waive your right to consumer protection made available by your state. You also waive the right to any legal representation and that you can not take part in a class-action lawsuit against them either. I think they KNOW it's a scam and pretty much covered all their bases. LOL

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  13. Hey at least he's honest on the TV commercial (it's not cheap).

    But any smart person will stay away.

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  14. No matter what your nation or culture, there is something disturbing in the ruthless form of capitalism, which victimizes the most desperate people in our midst.

    It's like being a slumlord. Yes, you can make a pile of cash owning and charging as much rent as you can get from poor people, and you can tell yourself that you're doing a public service providing low cost housing, and that this is how "capitalism works", but ultimately, it's not something that most of us would feel proud of.

    It's hard to see how Western Sky's business advances the broader interests of our world. our people, or other people. If capital doesn't have an ethical compass, then businesses like this will exist, so long as the return is commensurate with the risk. I, however, would kike to see capital directed to businesses that ultimately do good as well as earn a return on investment.

    I'd feel much more fulfilled developing, managing or investing in, something like a wind farm, green energy project or other innovative business that makes money while make our world a better place.

    One person's opinion...I could be wrong.

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  15. I am Native American,Seneca, these guys requested a copy of my Father's bank statement,driver's license. If he had gotten the loan at 199% interest,I would have paid it off. Thank-God he was turned down because of his age and credit. Yes,they do make a credit check. Also it is a loan company in California,that you deal with. The Sioux "outsourced". This is a scam,using Native people as a cover. I doubt very seriously if the Sioux will see one cent of any profit made from this company.

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  16. Cathy B. SAID IT BEST on August 1, 2010! It's insane what's happening to this great country of ours! What saddens me is, no matter what type of horrible event may strike down upon us in history, from 9/11 to hurricane Katrina, there's always some scum looking to profit BIG off the misfortune of others. Sad part is...where ever there's need, you'll always find greed!

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  17. I'm offended by how rude the guy is in the commercial. I am also tired of being blamed for something I had nothing to do with. I didn't come here from Germany (cause I'm European American), rape, pillage, steal, lie, or cheat anyone. I was born here like most AMERICANS including Native Americans, and until we stop segregating ourselves by using race as an excuse for everyone suffering financially, we will never be united! I recently moved to Washington state and have witnessed and been so priviliaged to be verbally abused by Native Americans. Called whitey, white devil, white bitch... uhm, I didn't do anything to you but love my neighbor, my family, and my friends. I've never been to jail, been hooked on drugs, or been an alcoholic. I work hard, pay taxes and let people merge onto the freeway. I have felt frustration and cried when I've seen images of hanging's in the south, tortured native american's, and anyone hurting a child. I respect people's difference's and appreciate all our uniqueness and culture's. I'm tired of the accepted racism against me because I'm white. Maybe if I'm raped and burned you will all feel better? Bravo!

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  18. It doesn't help much that the guy on the commercial looks like a Ferengi, and if you know your Star Trek, are well known for shady dealings.

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  19. Not that this is a good idea, But just so you know, Federaly Recognized Tribes are subject to Federal Law. They are not subject to State Law. But the treaties that exist between the Fed and the Tribes is as firm as any law in the land. I used to have to negotiate such laws.

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  20. Just saw this ad an couldn't believe my eyes. a $2,000 loan costs you $7,200 according to their monthly payment schedule. I am not native American, but I have great respect for your culture and heritage. This is just another example of folks taking advantage of you; it's disgusting!!!

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  21. I FEEL LIKE EVERYONE MADE GOOD POINTS HERE. I ALSO FEEL EVERY RACE HAS BAD PEOPLE, WHITE, BLACK ,INDIAN AND SO ON .THE SAD PART IS TO THE GOVERNMET THERS ONLY RICH AND POOR PEOPLE THE RACE FACTOR IS MERLY A DISTRACTION. I DO FEEL LIKE THESE RATES ARE CRAZY ESPECIALLY SINCE THEY TARGET THE POOR .

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  22. I am in marketing and deal with the payday loan industry. The business is taking advantage of legally avoiding state laws, just as a casino might. The 200% interest is about half, and even 1/3 or 1/4, of average payday loan rates, so it represents a good deal to the consumer in comparison.

    The overwhelming majority of people who take out payday loans pay them off within a month or so, so to think of the rate as 200% or 400% or 800% isn't the reality of the situation. One might think the payday loan companies are making huge margins from these rates, but the truth is they are lending to a group of people who on average have over 20% defaults before the first payment is made. Half of the rest of the people who don't immediately default eventually do, so the high rates are necessary to loan to people this likely to not pay. I, for one, had to take out a high interest loan a couple of times in my twenties when I had car trouble. Both times I paid them back in a few pay periods and ended up paying about 20% interest total. I think this is a fairly normal amount of actual interest earned from a single payday loan to a consumer.

    The point is, I want to be able to borrow $500 for a couple of weeks for a cost of $25-$50 and don't appreciate a nanny government saving me from myself. Would they have driven me to work so I didn't lose my job when my car was broken? No. I would have had to pay $10 in taxi fares to and from every day or possibly would have lost the job entirely and then where would I have been?

    Joe Putman

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  23. Bravo Joe Putman! You've summed it up in a few sentences. People can think whatever they want about the source of these high interest loans but the bottom line is that if there was no market, there'd be no high interest loans. And I don't know if the rest of you people have noticed but there's a payday loan business on every other block. So why would you begrudge any ethnicity the opportunity to get in on what clearly is wanted and needed? It's really nobody's business where the profits go.

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  26. I agree Zacharina the issue is nobody has any business judging Payroll Loans and insulting the American Indians once again.
    Since Adolph Hitler is your GOD then STFU.
    You are living on OUR LAND so it about time you payed your RENT. SFWP! If you dont like it then just dont buy it. GO TO WHITE MAN BANK DA! Where you belong in another country.

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  27. I just saw one of their commercials and it prompted me to google about the actress (the the commercial i saw has a female in it). I was curious if she is even native american( not that it really matters).it shows to me that they put thought into it and tried to pick someone who falls inbetween cultures.

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  28. Welll..I applied & should know tomorrow if I'm approved and for people like myself, high rates or not, they're good. I have 6 payday loans-don't call me a lowlife scumbag who doesn't work-I work 14 hours a day but have issues with a very ill husband and horrendous medical bills so I fell into the PDL trap. Of course, when I repay every 2weeks, I have to re-borrow since I can't pay them off-so I'm paying nearly 1200.00 a month on 2100.00 credit & no end in sight. If I'm approved for their 2500. at 294. a month, for me it will be a Godsend, saving me 800.00 a month and knowing that there IS and end in sight & that although it will take time, it will be paid off and I'm not on the never-ending merry-go-round. Yes, it is a stupid thing I got myself into but I simply had no-one to turn to and no other choice. I'm paying 14,400. a year on 2100. credit!!! And I've been doing that for nearly 2 years because I have no way to pay them off! So yeah-to buy a car or whatever, it is stupid to loan from them at those rates..for people like me caught in the PDL trap, I think it's a very good idea.

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  29. This just only proves that acquiring payday loans with cheap interest is a sane decision.

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