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November is National Native American Heritage Month

For over 100 years Americans have celebrated Native American Heritage across the country, in 1990 then President George H.W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations have been issued each year since 1994, with President Biden following suit this November. In his proclamation on October 29, 2021 he stated "Far too often in our founding era and in the centuries since, the promise of our Nation has been denied to Native Americans who have lived on this land since time immemorial."

Across the United States, 1 in 3 Native Americans are living in poverty, with a median income of $23,000 a year. Despite substantial investment and increase in education in Native American communities, stemming from investments in gambling and energy, the employment rate among Native Americans has declined and wage growth has decreased in that same time period. Though 80% of Native Americans live in rural areas, and given that poverty tends to be higher in rural parts of the country, the poverty gap between Native Americans living in rural and urban areas is larger than the white rural and urban gap. This means that poverty is not driven by the fact that Native Americans are more likely to live in rural areas.  

Washington state is home to 29 federally recognized Indian tribes, and over 150,00 Native Americans.  In 2018, 53 percent of Native Americans were homeowners—a rate much lower than the 71 percent of Whites who own homes. Despite protective measures, the Native American population continues to face many hardships that impede participation in the homebuying experience, particularly when it comes to finding lenders for home purchases. One challenge is that many lenders are not comfortable with lending on Native American trust land as it is a form of land tenure unfamiliar to institutions that generally lend on fee simple transactions.

As REALTORS® , you can help Native American home buyers by learning about special financing options and government assistance that is available to them.  For example, The Housing Improvement Program (HIP) helps eligible Native Americans buy, replace, repair, and renovate their homes.  Also, HUD's Office of Native American Programs (ONAP), which provides competitive grant funding to Tribes and TDHEs to carry out affordable housing activities for the benefit of low-income Native Americans.  Together we can help create equal housing opportunities for our Native American neighbors.