Northern Eagle Federal Credit Union will soon open for business, beginning with two offices on the Bois Forte Reservation in northeastern Minnesota.
The NCUA, which met with credit union officials and the Bois Forte Reservation Tribal Council last month, said Thursday it has approved the charter, the first for a new credit union by the agency this year.
“We’re very excited to see Northern Eagle FCU receive their charter. They will be a great addition to the Minnesota credit union family and, more importantly, will provide essential financial services and education opportunities to an underserved part of the state,” said Mark D. Cummins, MnCUN president/CEO.
The league and the credit union’s new CEO said the announcement of a new charter culminates a three-year process of planning and preparation before winning the right to open the institution.
“Getting the charter was a long, arduous process and our plans endured a lot of scrutiny – as it should be,” said Nikki Pieratos, who’s also the reservation’s credit union program manager. “We are happy to finally be able to serve the needs of our band members and employees. The community has been very excited about this homegrown effort.”
NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz, in the agency’s statement issued Thursday, said, “Every American deserves access to affordable financial services, but many Native Americans unfortunately lack access to federally insured financial services providers or only have access to predatory lenders.
“The chartering of Northern Eagle Federal Credit Union addresses a real need. The credit union has the potential to play an important role in improving the lives and financial well-being of Northern Minnesota’s Chippewa communities. I commend the individuals who worked so hard to establish this Native American credit union.”
Northern Eagle will have offices at Nett Lake in the Bois Forte Band’s new Government and Community Services Center and in the Fortune Bay Resort Casino in Vermilion, the MnCUN said.
Credit union membership will be open to the approximately 4,900 people who comprise the Bois Forte Band members living in Minnesota or outside the state, tribal government employees, employees of the Bois Forte Development Corporation and Nett Lake School, those who are part of the immediate household of a band member or tribal employee, and credit union volunteers.
Earlier this year, the Oglala Sioux Tribe opened Lakota Federal Credit Union on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota after receiving its charter the summer before.
Chippewa Eagle FCU in Mount Pleasant, Mich., opened in 2011 but was merged into another local credit union this spring.