The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians has ended its investment advisory services relationship with Wells Fargo. The decision, made unanimously by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians Band Assembly and Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin, is in response to Wells Fargo’s unethical business practices and the financing the bank provides to Energy Transfer Partners. The Mille Lacs Band terminated the relationship effective January 6th, 2017.
Wells Fargo has lent hundreds of millions of dollars to Energy Transfer Partners to finance the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline; the bank has also admitted to defrauding its customers by opening thousands of unauthorized accounts to meet internal sales goals. There were other negative practices by Wells Fargo throughout Indian Country that also contributed to the Band’s decision.
“Wells Fargo has promoted initiatives that have hurt Native Americans across the country and the Mille Lacs Band will no longer associate ourselves with them,” said Mille Lacs Band Secretary-Treasurer Carolyn Beaulieu. “In addition to preying on customers and other unethical business practices, Wells Fargo is actively financing the Dakota Access Pipeline project where peaceful Native American protestors have been taunted and physically harmed. We will not do business with a company that finds these practices acceptable.”
The proposed 1,100 mile pipeline would pump more than a half million barrels of crude oil per day across the Missouri River just upstream from the mouth of the Cannon Ball River, which flows through the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.
“Divesting from Wells Fargo is a meaningful step we can take to make it clear that this is unacceptable corporate behavior. The Mille Lacs Band understands the nature of finance and lending practices by U.S. banks. In many instances, banking relationships are unavoidable. However, the Band must work with financial institutions with much stronger social justice criteria,” said Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin.