Saturday, December 23, 2017

Ho-Chunk Nation Establishes Sovereign Wealth Vehicle (Twelve Clans, Inc.)

TSW Community,

In case you missed it, in October 2016 the Ho-Chunk Nation (Wisconsin) passed legislation to capitalize their Tribal Sovereign Wealth Fund, Twelve Clans, Inc. via a commitment of $95M. The commitment is structured as $20M in the first fiscal year (ending June 2017) and $15M annually over the following five fiscal years.

Twelve Clans, Inc. is focused on wealth growth for for future generations (see commentary here).

Also, as with most TSWFs, Twelve Clans' asset is only a portion of the total assets of the tribe set aside for a specific objective. In this case, Twelve Clans is specifically focused on growth-oriented, private market investments whereas other pools of Ho-Chunk Nation capital are more focused on stability.

In Perpetuity,

Funds Approved for Twelve Clans to Begin Business Investments, Opportunities
By Ken Luchterhand
October 2016

Twelve Clans Inc. is off and running.

It received the boost they needed to get going on Tuesday, Oct. 18, when the Ho-Chunk Legislature approved an investment of $95 million to invest for the future of the Nation.

The commitment is $20 million for the first year and $15 million for each of the next five years.  

Twelve Clans Inc. is the first product of the Ho-Chunk Nation’s pursuit of separating business from government. The concept of Twelve Clans has been in progress and it is intended to diversify the revenue stream outside of gaming.

“The Ho-Chunk Nation has long known there was a need to diversify the revenue stream outside of gaming,” said Joanne Whiterabbit, treasurer for Twelve Clans. “The question the Nation had to answer was this — how could the Nation best utilize the resources of Ho-Chunk gaming to preserve our future as a Nation?  Answering this question was a challenging, long term process and through continued perseverance, Twelve Clans, Inc. was created.”

The group has prepared an investment strategy with public investments and transitions into a combination of private and public investments. It plans to invest in businesses as well as take advantage of the tax benefits available to it to create its own businesses, she said.

Passive investments (also referred to as public investments) are investments in which the funds are placed with corporations or funds that already exist and have a strong proven track record, Whiterabbit said. Private investments are more aggressive in their returns but have a greater risk.  Twelve Clans, Inc. will invest in both public and passive investments.  

“Investments in the gaming arena are not off the table, however, we will not compete with the Ho-Chunk Nation for gaming revenue,” Whiterabbit said. “There may be other opportunities that present themselves around the country or even internationally that we may consider.  These opportunities, like any other venture, will be vetted to ensure they meet Twelve Clans’ growth expectations and are consistent with its investment strategy.” 

To date, there are no other tribal corporations in existence like Twelve Clans, Inc.  Under the Charter, Twelve Clans operates separate and apart from the Nation. 

Twelve Clans’ primary goal is to build a future and secure the wealth of the Nation.  The Charter does not impose any social mandates, however, it is committed to funding Ho-Chunk-owned businesses and creating career opportunities with a Ho-Chunk preference, when it is appropriate and consistent with the Twelve Clans’ investment strategy.

For example, the Charter does not dictate what investment strategy Twelve Clans can utilize and it does not impose any or social mandates upon Twelve Clans, Inc. The Charter does require Twelve Clans to provide financial updates to the Ho-Chunk Nation, which is the sole owner of the corporation.  

The leadership of Twelve Clans was selected through an ad hoc search committee which solicited applications and conducted in-person interviews and all board members passed a background check prior to being selected, she said.

“The selection process initiated by the Ho-Chunk Nation will be continued as is mandated by our corporate charter,” Whiterabbit said. “Under the Charter, not less than two members of the board of directors must be enrolled members of the Ho-Chunk Nation. The Charter also dictates the skills that must be represented on the board. Our current vacancy is for a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation with law degree and business experience to complete the term for Sharice Davids.  We welcome referrals and recommendations at”

The step taken by the Legislature has started a whole new era in financial sovereignty. 

“The allocation of funds to Twelve Clans, Inc. from the Ho-Chunk Nation is a significant milestone,” Whiterabbit said.

Twelve Clans, Inc. will provide further updates and share its progress via its website ( and the Hocak Worak Newsletter. People may also email questions to Twelve Clans at



  • Disclaimer: Your's truly is on the board of directors of Twelve Clans, Inc.

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