Here is a simple question, are all of the 200 plus tribal lenders offering unsecured loans? Or are any of the loans they offer secured by some asset or collateral? It's a question that most consumers never even bother to ask because they are (almost universally) in search of an unsecured loan.
The quick answer to the question is 'yes' there are no collateralized loans issued by Native American lending companies.
There are a few tribally affiliated companies that engage in mortgage lending but those firms operate completely outside the scope of the type of lender discussed at this site. Also, there are a few Native American investment companies that conduct lending operations but these are for Native Americans (or federally recognized tribes) to start new businesses or invest in an ongoing business. This is a business lending operation that only focuses on established companies looking for a corporate debt and again there are none of these companies listed on the site because this isn't geared toward business lending.
The typical Native American firm we are focused on here will have a very common designation which usually reads as 'tribal lending entity' or sometimes the term is tribal lending business. No matter which name is used the business model is the same, the tribal lender will have some very basic requirements which must be met and then they will issue a loan with no collateral required. This is the definition of an unsecured loan.
Unlike your car note or your home mortgage (or the very common home equity loan) the Native American loan is only secured by the signature of the lender promising that they will repay the debt. If you do not repay the lender may not grab your home or car, but must limit themselves to putting the (non-paying) customer through the collections process which usually includes a barrage of phone calls, voicemail, email messages and snail mail letters. For the most part the collections process will involve somewhat threatening language by the lender.
There is a small chance that a customer that fails to pay could be taken to court with a lawsuit but that is a very remote possibility. Nearly all Native American lending companies make the customer sign (as part of qualifying for the loan) that they will submit to their (tribe-based) arbitration policies rather than turning to a state or federal court.
How can the tribes afford to take the risk of lending out money with no collateral? Wouldn't having thousands of unsecured loans be a recipe for going bankrupt with the numerous defaults that come with high interest lending? The answer to the first question is super high interest rates. The answer to the second question is a definitive no.
Tribal lenders charge such high rates (with many of the Native American payday loan companies hovering around 780% in an annual percentage rate) that the customers that do repay their debts more than make up for those that fail to repay. Tribal lenders, for the most part, make very good money.
There is no hard evidence of this since all the tribal lending enterprises have an excellent level of privacy. These companies are the opposite of publicly traded firms that must disclose all sorts of financial information because the tribes (and their associated, federally recognized companies) are not required to file any financial results or operations statement.
The tribes are considered by the U.S. Government (through the U.S. State Department) to be independent nations, which have full sovereignty over what information they choose to release to the public. And of course they are going to choose to release no information.
This is the long answer as to why tribal loan firms are not interested in the hassle of issuing collateralized loans. It's a much more simple path to get people to promise to repay and then push the borrowers who do not repay. The money they make from the profitable (should we say responsible here) customers more than makes up for the losses from the customers who walk away from their debt. With this stunning business model there is no need to bother with trying to secure the issued loans.