Employees from Western Sky Financial plan to show up at a special session of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council Wednesday.
The high-interest online loan company was forced to close because of a laundry list of lawsuits from several states that think the company's loans are illegal.
Employees are trying to rally support from the council while the cases move forward in the courts.
"That would be in support of Mr. Webb as a tribal enrolled member having sovereignty so he can process these loans here in Eagle Butte," Western Sky Senior Supervisor Tawny Lawrence said.
Western Sky Financial, which is owned by Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal member Martin 'Butch' Webb, is facing numerous lawsuits from across the country for offering online loans with interest rates of more than 300 percent. There are so many legal hurdles that the company laid off nearly all its workers at the beginning of September.
Western Sky argues the company has tribal sovereignty to charge those rates and administer the online loans from the reservation.
While employees work to lobby their own tribal council, the 36-year chairman of the Lower Brule tribe, Michael Jandreau, is getting behind the effort.
"It is a direct attack on the whole tribal system of government and the ability to govern ourselves and utilize those elements that are out there to do business with other people," Jandreau said.
The long-time Lower Brule chairman is supporting the Cheyenne River business because he thinks the Western Sky case is a slippery slope as states try to chip away at tribal sovereignty and the ability of tribes to govern reservations.
"It's almost as though this individual is being utilized as a process to attack the whole system of government we have on our reservations," Jandreau said.
Jandreau is urging all tribes in the Great Plains to show support for tribal businesses like Western Sky, and on Wednesday, the closed company's workers will ask the same of their council.
"It comes down to a sovereignty issue. ‘Butch’ Webb as an enrolled tribal member has jurisdiction to be able to practice these loans on the Cheyenne Sioux Reservation," Lawrence said.
The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe said chairman Kevin Keckler was the only one authorized to speak to the media about the Western Sky issue; however, he did not return phone calls from KELOLAND News on Tuesday.