The Lakota Federal Credit Union’s mission is to provide quality financial services conveniently located at home on the Pine Ridge Reservation, in a helpful, professional and respectful manner and to provide effective tools for its members, the Oglala Lakota people, to save, plan, and provide for their futures.
In January 2009, several community leaders started in pursuit of a dream to establish the Lakota Federal Credit Union to serve the people of the Pine Ridge Reservation. The proposed credit union would provide basic banking services to help the Oglala LakotaOyate (people) achieve their financial goals, and in turn help the local economy on the Pine Ridge Reservation to thrive. This was a huge undertaking, as the Pine Ridge Reservation had not had a financial institution of its own since the Oglala Sioux Tribe accepted the Indian Recognition Act in 1935.
Lakota Funds, a non-profit organization that provides loan products and assistance on the reservation, anxiously agreed to sponsor the proposed Lakota Federal Credit Union. A steering committee comprised of knowledgeable, energetic, and hard-working individuals began the long and arduous process of establishing the first and only federally-insuredfinancial institution on the 2.2 million acre Pine Ridge Reservation.
In August of 2012, the Lakota Federal Credit Union received its charter from the National Credit Union Association and officially opened its doors in November 2012. Even in its first day of operations, the Lakota Federal Credit Union made a big impact – opening 26 accounts and making one loan.
Although credit unions and banks offer many of the same products and services, they are very different. Banks are for-profit corporations, which means their biggest concern is their bottom line. Credit unions are non-profit organizations, which means they are mission-driven. Credit unions are frequently smaller institutions, have a regional focus, and are known for being community-oriented.
Credit unions are also different from banks because when you make a deposit, you are actually buying shares of the organization. Rather than being a customer, you are a part owner who is considered a member of the organization. Members vote on all major decisions and even elect the board of directors. Since credit unions are not in it for the profit, they usually have lower rates and fees. Any profit they do make is distributed to its members.