A committee made up of Standing Rock Sioux Tribal members have been working on a project to fill gaps in the community.
Since 2009, the Oyate Community Development Financial Institution has been providing various services to tribal members.
“Taking the entrepreneurship training class they learn about the setting goals developing their business concept, and then they will learn to do the marketing and financial management,” explained Jonathan Anderson, the Director of the Tribal Business Information Center at Sitting Bull College.
“Lot of inquiries you know people with business ideas. Receive quite a few applications we’ve approved and closed on a number of loans. So I guess we feel that the program is providing some benefit,” explained Erv Kanuth, a loan officer for Oyate CDFI.
But as the program continues to grow, committee members realized there was a much larger need in the community.
There is no sort of financial or banking institute for tribal members to have access to in Sioux County.
“Brings a place where people can invest their money, take their checks, because it’s been hand to mouth in rural communities for decades. And that still continues to be the case where a person will take their check and go to the gas station, go to a grocery store and cash that and use that for a couple of weeks expenses and trying to get to the next month till the next check comes in,” explained Joseph McNeil, the Board Chairman for the Oyate CDFI.
Through planning, a committee came up with the concept for the Oyate Credit Union — with an emphasis on helping people do just that, by building their credit, having direct access to checking and savings accounts and providing other financial opportunities.
“Individually for yourself and for your families you lose opportunities to have tools that can advantage you in ways like we talk about in getting consumer loans, or home loans or car loans. And building that credit history to do that. But as a business you have no legs to stand on because you’ve built no credit,” explained McNeil.
The goal is to have a physical location established within the next two years for the Oyate Credit Union.
The concept has already been approved by the National Credit Union Administration.
The next step is fundraising they need around $2 million to get the project off the ground.