Tlingit adviser assists in all-Native bond purchase

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- A Tlingit investment adviser says the first-ever all-Native bond purchase has been completed.

The transaction, completed last month, was ordinary enough in itself, said investment adviser Brad Fluetsch.

Fluetsch assisted his client, Native American Bank, in purchasing a Fannie Mae two-year bond from Native American Financial Services Co. brokerage firm.

''What we bought was unremarkable. The fact, though, that it was all Native participants, that it was executed through a Native brokerage firm, that's the first time that's ever happened,'' Fluetsch said.

Derrick Watchman, board member of the Native American Bank, agreed.

''Millions of trades like this occur on a daily basis, but what sets this one apart from all the others is the money stayed in Indian country,'' he said.

Fluetsch said there are only two other Native American money managers in the country, and neither of them had completed a deal solely within the Native community. Fluetsch, a Tlingit, has owned and run Raven Asset Management in Juneau for three years.

Banks and brokerages have trouble finding experienced Native Americans to hire, Fluetsch said.

There are only two Native American brokerage firms and about a dozen tribally owned and run banks, Fluetsch said. Native American Bank, headquartered in Denver, Colo., was founded by 12 tribes, including Alaska Native corporations.

Murray Lee, president of Native American Financial Services Co. in Window Rock, Ariz., is a member of the Navajo Nation.

''This was a long time coming -- but now a precedent has been set,'' Lee said. ''Essentially, what we have done is we have leveled the financial playing field and have paved the way for future deals like this in Indian country.''

For Fluetsch, it was the first step toward a larger goal of keeping money circulating among the Native communities.

If the federal Indian Health Services $2.9 billion budget were invested by Native money managers rather than other financial management companies, the $4.5 million management fee and additional transaction fees would go to Natives, he said.

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