The Seminole Tribe of Florida, an unconquered tribe of American Indians, in 1957, signed a Treaty with the US Government, which recognised them as a sovereign state and provided them with fertile reservation lands. This is the only tribe to sign a treaty with the Federal Government of USA.
They were successful traders and made full use of their status as a sovereign nation, first selling tax-free tobacco, and then, in 1979, (under their half-Irish chief, James Billie), opening a Casino on the reservation lands. The Casino was very successful and the tribe became very wealthy, expanding into multiple businesses, including the Hard Rock chain of cafes, and purchasing extra land. It provides citizen services to its members, including a comprehensive health system and educational system, (as well as a monthly stipend to each member of the tribe from its profits).
But who are the members of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and who is entitled to a share in this wealth and to participate in the election of its governing body? And how is ownership of land and other assets structured?
To apply for membership of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, you must prove direct relationship to a person listed in the 1957 Tribal Roll, and be sponsored by a current member of the tribe.
The assets of the tribe legally belong to the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which is a Sovereign Country, and, as such, a corporate body, governed by an elected board known as the Tribal Council. It is an example of a successful Corporate State, i.e., a state run in the same manner as an incorporated body.
US Land owned by the Tribe would be registered in the name of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The Tribe holds shares in limited companies, whether 100% of the shares or a lesser proportion, and, in this way, can carry out any form of commercial activity in the USA.
The reservation lands comprise a sovereign state, outside the ambit of US Laws, but the extra lands, while in the ownership of the Seminole Tribe, are not sovereign lands but owned in the same manner as any corporate body.
This corporate structure (excluding the sovereign state element) could be used as a model by other ethnic or community groups around the world. Community land could be vested in a corporate body, in which all members would hold shares. Membership could be either on a basis of birth-right, as with the Seminoles, or on the basis of share-ownership, and control could be either one vote per person or based on the number of shares held. The corporate structure would enable both engagement in business-ventures and the provision of citizen services.
I should add that there are other models with similar features, such as our Irish Cooperative Societies.
Take Kerry Group, which started off as a small cooperative, North Kerry Farmers Cooperative, and became a multi billion-dollar industry.
Take the Irish Civil Service Housing Society, which my father joined in 1939, when planning marriage. The members of the Housing Society all contributed a sum of money. The Society borrowed more and bought land. It then built houses on the land. When the first house was completed, it was sold to a member, who borrowed money from Irish Civil Service Building Society. This money funded the building of the second house, and so on until all the members had houses.