The Navajo Nation Budget and Finance Committee told a Wells Fargo Bank representative Tuesday the tribe is contemplating “divorcing” the bank if it doesn’t improve services to the Navajo people.
“It seems like Wells Fargo hasn’t stepped up to the plate in assisting the Navajo Nation,” said Budget and Finance chair Seth Damon (Baahaali/Chilchiltah/ Manuelito/Red Rock/Rock Springs/Tsayatoh) at the committee’s regular meeting. “If we possibly separate our ties with Wells Fargo that’s going to send a shock wave in Indian Country.”
Wells Fargo’s relationship with the Navajo Nation government is lucrative for the bank. Damon stated that the tribe has almost $2 billion in Wells Fargo. Breaking it down, Wells Fargo holds $700 million in non-capital dollars, $16 million in cash, $180 million in general funds that were recently appropriated, $30 million in cash for trust funds and $1 billion in external funds and grants. Not to mention the tens of thousands of Navajo accounts that are set up with Wells Fargo, which almost has a monopoly on the reservation.
The delegates brought up different issues they see and hear from constituents such as denying business loans, denying financing and high interest rates. They also accused the institution of holding the nation’s recent $554 million settlement without any guidance until it was demanded that they put it in a trust fund.
“Those kinds of things have deterred the nation and we ask ‘How is Wells Fargo putting the nation’s best interest at heart?’” said Damon. He acknowledged state and tribal laws do create some barriers but negotiation to meet in the middle has never been attempted. “We have to know that our nation is looking out for its people and its resources and in doing so, Wells Fargo is a big factor at that,” Damon stated.