Largest $pending Frenzy Ever Held Is at Omak High School

In April 2015, the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) in partnership with the Colville Tribes Enrollment Program and Omak High School in Omak, Washington, offered the largest $pending Frenzy financial simulation to date. Over the course of two days and six events, the entire student body of 517 students at Omak High School, situated adjacent to the Colville Reservation, participated in the financial reality fair.

The original concept for the $pending Frenzy reality fair was created by First Nations Development Institute and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to offer youth with large impending minor’s trust payments an opportunity to practice handling a substantial lump sum of money and spending it wisely. In the simulation, high school students are given $40,000 in fake money and are asked to make spending decisions to purchase a car, a house, groceries and other items. Students can practice visiting a bank to cash their check and deposit a share of their money into savings, and are also given the opportunity to learn about investing a portion of their money. The $pending Frenzy at Omak High School even featured a legal booth run with assistance from Colville Tribes Attorney Jamie Edmonds.

Since the first pilot of the $pending Frenzy with Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians youth in 2010, the financial simulation has been offered about two dozen times in 10 different states and 13 unique communities across the country. In total, more than 1,200 Native youth have participated in the event and learned to better manage their money. The program has caught fire in 2015, with seven $pending Frenzy events already in the books, including three in the month of April.

First Nations is grateful for the support of Raylene Swan and Margie Hutchinson of the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians in helping the $pending Frenzy reach a growing number of tribal communities and Native youth across the nation. To meet the increasing demand to offer the financial reality fair, First Nations is in the process of developing a $pending Frenzy workshop kit. The full workshop kit will be available for sale and will contain everything a facilitator needs to organize and run a $pending Frenzy event – including instructions, booth materials, play money, budgeting cards, and $pending Frenzy merchandise. Stay tuned for news on the release of the $pending Frenzy kit!

By Benjamin Marks, First Nations Senior Research Officer

Muckleshoot High School Gets Jump on Financial Literacy Month

Although April is officially designated “National Financial Literacy Month,” many tribes have already started hosting financial education and money management workshops for their youth. Most recently, faculty members at Muckleshoot Tribal High School, in partnership with the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST), organized two back-to-back financial education workshops for 30 of juniors and seniors.

Most of the students were Muckleshoot tribal members and beneficiaries of the tribe’s minors’ trusts. Tribal members are required to complete a senior portfolio of various projects and activities. They are required to complete 15 activities, including two that focus on savings/investment and budgeting.

First Nations’ financial education consultant Shawn Spruce led two workshops in February that helped students meet these requirements. The first workshop focused on financial skills development and fraud awareness. Students learned about goal-setting and budgeting, using a bank account, basic investing, homeownership, and fraud prevention.

Shawn helped develop the second experiential workshop, $pending Frenzy, approximately three years ago. $pending Frenzy encourages creative interactions with bankers and other financial institutions while educating tribal youth about money and responsibility. Shawn carefully tailors each workshop to meet the specific needs of each tribe and/or tribal community. To date, he has helped organize more than two dozen $pending Frenzy financial skills simulations.

At Muckleshoot Tribal High School, he worked closely with English Teacher Rick Ancheta and OST Fiduciary Trust Officer Marianne Jones to help educate young tribal members on the value of saving, managing personal finances, and healthy credit practices. Approximately 20 volunteers participated in $pending Frenzy, managing various merchant booths such as a shopping mall, car dealer, grocery store and even the IRS.

Financial education classes and workshops need to keep youth interested to be effective. “Teens relate well to experiential learning opportunities like the $pending Frenzy,” says Shawn. “They figure out pretty quickly the costs of living on your own and the importance of avoiding impulsive purchases. Moreover, they seem to appreciate the uniqueness of a financial education program tailored specifically to the needs of Native youth.”

One student who participated wrote this afterward: “Speaking for myself and many other students, I have to say having Shawn come to our school was really wise. Being that many of us are going to receive our trust fund, we learned how we can budget and manage our money but also how fast it can go. I can’t thank you enough for providing the chance for us to attend this workshop. It was a great learning experience.”

It is never too early to get started on the path to financial literacy. For more information about hosting a $pending Frenzy workshop in your community, please contact First Nations Program Consultant Shawn Spruce at

By Sarah Hernandez, First Nations Program Coordinator

Nearly 200 Kids Participate in Colville $pending Frenzy

Financial education classes and workshops are mandatory for tribal youth residing on the Colville Indian Reservation in north-central Washington. In early January 2015, 193 students at Lake Roosevelt High School participated in a $pending Frenzy workshop.

In 2012, First Nations partnered with the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) to offer the $pending Frenzy with Colville youth. The $pending Frenzy is an interactive financial education workshop that allows tribal youth to practice budgeting and spending a large lump sum of money. Developed by consultant Shawn Spruce and First Nations Development Institute, the workshop’s popularity has skyrocketed over the past three years and more than a dozen tribes have adapted the $pending Frenzy model for their tribal youth.

At Lake Roosevelt High School, students received $40,000 in play money to pay for real-world-like expenses such as rent, utilities, car payments and insurance. Additionally, students learned to budget money for educational expenses such as tuition and books.

Students also learned how to manage their Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts, which they can access when they turn 18. They learned about current IIM interest rates versus commercial banking interest rates, what their account options are, and how to best manage their monies.

Tribal leaders and educators on the Colville Indian Reservation have experimented with a number of different financial literacy models for tribal youth. According to Fiduciary Trust Officer Margie Hutchinson, “The $pending Frenzy has been the most effective model so far. Students and teachers love it. In fact, we are planning more workshops in April and May for our other high school students.”

More and more tribes like the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation are making financial education classes and workshops mandatory for tribal youth. For more information about hosting a $pending Frenzy workshop in your community, please contact First Nations Program Consultant Shawn Spruce at

By Sarah Hernandez, First Nations Program Coordinator 

FN+FIMO+FINRA+SEC+OST = Navajo Financial Ed

Attendees closely listen to workshop presenters and take many notes

To help tribal citizens of the Navajo Nation prepare for a potential financial windfall, the Federal Indian Minerals Office (FIMO) teamed up with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) to offer a series of financial education workshops in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in December 2013. Staff from the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) also assisted with the trainings.

Participants engage in an interactive activity during the training

The outreach event was held at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and consisted of two three-hour workshops designed to help people learn about managing their money, avoiding fraud, and investing. Interactive exercises, videos and presentations were used to provide information on financial topics.   FIMO was established in 1992 by the U.S. Department of Interior to provide services to individual Navajo mineral owner beneficiaries regarding their mineral interests and rights. To date the organization has approved 70 of 344 pending negotiated leases worth about $195 million to over 20,000 people.  There are also plans to auction off roughly 200 additional leases as a result of the current oil boom on the Navajo Nation.

Another activity helped drill home the information

The training began with a financial self-assessment and guided the participants through making goals, budgeting, tracking expenses and making a financial plan. The participants then learned about different types of fraud and effective means of combating fraud.   First Nations Financial Consultant Shawn Spruce coordinated the event in partnership with Charles Felker from the SEC, Susan Arthur from the FINRA Foundation, and Leona Begay from FIMO. The event was partially funded by grants from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.   The purpose of the event was to assist oil and gas lease beneficiaries with money management by promoting smart and informed decisions that will help with budgeting and protect beneficiaries from fraud. When asked about the training, many beneficiaries responded that the workshop was extremely valuable.

Visual aides were used during parts of the presentations

“It was really exciting to partner with staff from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Indian Minerals Office to provide this training,” Shawn said. “We look forward to providing many more, and having an even wider reach in the future enabling us to effectively build money management skills for this community.”

By Sarah Dewees, First Nations Senior Director of Research, Policy & Asset-Building Programs, and Rachel Vernon, First Nations Program Officer.

Navajos Sharpen Financial Skills Before Windfall


First group of participants, with Leona Begay (third from left)


To help prepare tribal citizens of the Navajo Nation for a potential financial windfall, the Federal Indian Minerals Office (FIMO) teamed with the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) and First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) to offer a series of financial capability workshops in Farmington, New Mexico, in July 2013.

The “Four Corners” area, consisting of parts of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, has long been a hotbed for natural gas drilling.  However, recent advances in directional drilling technology allow access to previously untapped crude oil deposits that might also exist in the region.  In anticipation, oil companies are busy securing as many potential drilling leases as possible.

One of the groups of participants, with First Nations financial education consultant Shawn Spruce (far left)

A substantial portion of this area is home to the largest Indian reservation in the United States – the Navajo Nation.  FIMO was established in 1992 by the U.S. Department of Interior to provide services to individual Navajo mineral owner beneficiaries regarding their mineral interests and rights. The organization projects that $15 million to $20 million in drilling lease-signing bonuses will become available to beneficiaries later this year, as a result of this potential oil boom.

The workshops in Farmington covered various topics that were especially pertinent to the lease recipients who were present, such as budgeting, credit and negotiation. Participants were very interested in learning more about how to invest future funds, so trainer Shawn Spruce of First Nations spent time offering detailed information about investment activities including asset allocation and types of investing accounts.   Spruce also presented a number of online resources that would be of use to the recipients in preparation for the expected payments.

“We had two great days of training for future oil beneficiaries in Farmington,” said Shawn.  “We’ve provided similar workshops for other Native communities that receive individual lump-sum payments from natural resource royalties, legal settlements, gaming revenues or other sources.  It’s wonderful to be able to prepare people for future financial needs and challenges they might encounter.”

OST's Julia Redhouse (center) with two training participants

All workshop participants indicated on their evaluations that they believed they were better prepared for their distributions.  One attendee stated, “This was very beneficial. This information is a must-know for everyone receiving a distribution.”

The Minerals Revenue Specialist at FIMO, Leona Begay, would like to continue the partnership with First Nations and OST to provide additional workshops in Albuquerque.  For updates about these potential workshops, please visit or contact Shawn Spruce at