RAPID CITY, S.D. — NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz told credit union executives here yesterday the agency is very close to approving a charter for a credit union that will serve the Lakota Indians, also known as the Sioux, at their Pine Ridge Reservation in Kyle.

Matz told attendees at the annual meeting of the CU Association of the Dakotas she supports the proposed credit union, which would provide small business loans on the reservation and offer programs to help individuals grow their personal assets.

The Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation covers 70,000 square miles in the western third of South Dakota and is home to 40,000 Native Americans, but it does not have a single bank or credit union.

"It fills such a dire need on the reservation, where there is no other access to insured deposits and to lending that's not predatory," Matz said, calling the project "a very bold undertaking."

The new charter would be the first of the year and the first approved by NCUA since last October, reflecting a drought of new credit unions that has seen fewer than ten over the past four years. NCUA granted a charter to another Native American tribe, the Saginaw Chippewa Indians of Michigan, in 2010.

The Native American charter is being funded by a $150,000 grant from the Treasury Department's Community Development Financial Institutions fund to the Lakota Funds, a CDFI sponsored by the Lakota Nation.

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