Beacom School of Business Small Business Development Center

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Q & A

1.  Are there unique obstacles/barriers to financing a building located on an Indian reservation?
  • Tribes and tribal members cannot mortgage reservation land, because while the tribe owns the land, it is also held in trust by the United States for the current and future tribal members.  Without such mortgages, it is difficult to obtain loans needed to finance business development.  Assets other than land (equipment, leasehold improvements, inventory) provide collateral for loans on Indian reservations.
2.  What are the Small Business Administration's 8(a) and HUBZone programs?
  • These programs are set up for businesses that sell goods/services to the government.  The 8(a) and HUBZone programs permit and encourage all federal agencies to set aside procurements of goods and sevices for small businesses that participate in the programs.  By statute, every Indian reservation is located in a HUBZone, and almost every tribally owned company that participates in the 8(a) program also participates in the HUBZone program.  The 8(a) program states that the business must be owned by a minority, usually has been in business for 2 years with reasonable success, and the owner has good character.  For more information about the SBA 8(a) program visit  
3.  Are there any special taxes, licensing or zoning requirements when operating a business on an Indian reservation?
  • Tribal governments are sovereign within tribal territory and thus are not subject to state laws.  Many tribes have their own regulations regarding codes, licensing, and taxes.  It is best to check with the local tribal headquarters for specific information on these topics.