The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) owns its own office building for the first time in the organization’s 44-year history thanks to generous donors and an NPLF loan. The new Tucson headquarters is on Ajo Way, across from the VA Hospital complex.
“When a long-time supporter left us a gift from his estate and another donor stepped up with a sizable gift, we were in a position for the first time to buy our own building,” said Executive Director Andrea Carmen, who became a student intern in IITC’s San Francisco Office in 1976 and joined the staff in 1983.
The location of the new office makes it accessible to Tribes and Indigenous organizations in the area, and to students from the University of Arizona, Tohono O’odham Community College, and other educational institutions that are welcome to participate in IITC’s activities as interns and volunteers.
The organization’s new headquarters is anchoring the organization in new ways. “It’s been challenging, but also an educational and empowering self-determination process for our board and staff. It’s also been surprising and inspiring for other nonprofits that know us. We have a high profile and a great reputation for our human rights work, but this is the first time that we have found a way to fund a capital purchase,” she said. “This will be contribute greatly to IITC’s long-term organizational sustainability.”
When IITC’s realtor Jeff Haut realized a commercial loan was not a viable refinancing option, he searched on the internet for “nonprofit loans,” even though at the time, he didn’t know if such a thing existed. NPLF appeared in the search results and the way forward opened up for the IITC to finance its purchase in an affordable way. Jeff continued to assist IITC as a development consultant, serving as the liaison with contractors for building improvements.
The NPLF provided IITC with a flexible loan structure that helps keep monthly payments manageable and gives the organization time to undertake a fundraising campaign to pay off the loan. The NPLF funding allowed IITC to preserve enough capital to make necessary renovations and repay the loan while keeping within its budget for space costs.
IITC was founded in 1974 and became the first Indigenous NGO with Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 1977. In 2011, IITC was the first Indigenous organization to be upgraded to “General Consultative Status” in recognition of its long-standing participation in many areas of the United Nations system.
Tribes, alliances and networks of Indigenous Peoples from North, Central and South America, and the Pacific, Artic, and Caribbean regions are members of the IITC, which works for sovereignty and self-determination for Indigenous peoples and for the recognition and protection of their human rights, treaties, traditional cultures and sacred lands.
IITC’s guiding principles affirm that “indigenous peoples speak for themselves before the world community” as an integral aspect of self-determination, and the organization empowers indigenous tribal nations, leaders and communities to defend their rights and ways of life and to impact policies, programs and decisions that affect them. Towards this end, human rights capacity-building and leadership development are key components of IITC’s work. Each year, IITC conducts trainings and presentations at Indigenous and Tribal gatherings, conferences, UN sessions, schools and universities, including in the Tucson area.