White Business Owners Claim Cherokee Heritage to Win $300 Million in Contracts

Red and blue lettesr read "SBA" on white background.

An investigation found that White business owners falsely claimed to be Cherokee to secure contracts and the Small Business Administration did not vet their claims. Courtesy of the Small Business Administration via Twitter (@SBAgov)

Since 2000, more than $300 million reserved for businesses with majority people of color ownership have been paid from the federal government and several states’ coffers to companies of owners who claimed to be Indigenous, but were actually White, according to a Los Angeles Times report published Wednesday (June 26). These certifications and contracts were meant for people of color who could prove economic and social disadvantage because of race or ethnicity.

“It’s infuriating,” Rocky Miller, a state lawmaker in Missouri and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, told the Times. “They’re enriching themselves based on a nonexistent recognition.”

The Times found that 12 of the 14 business owners who claimed to be Native Americans when applying for certification to participate in programs run by the Small Business Administration (SBA) said they were members of groups that “have no government recognition and are considered illegitimate by recognized tribes and Native American experts.”

The three groups are the Northern Cherokee Nation, based in Clinton, Missouri.; the Western Cherokee Nation of Arkansas and Missouri, based in Mansfield, Missouri.; and the Northern Cherokee Nation of the Old Louisiana Territory, based in Columbia, Missouri.

“It’s taking those resources not just from our community, but from all communities of color,” said Rebecca Nagle, Cherokee Nation citizen and community organizer told the Times. “It’s really problematic.”

The publication reached out to the SBA for comment:

The SBA did not specifically address The Times’ findings that the contractors’ ancestors were identified as white in government records available for review. The agency said it “takes allegations of fraud very seriously and routinely refers such matters” to its inspector general.

Source: White Business Owners Claim Cherokee Heritage to Win $300 Million in Contracts


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: