ALEXANDRIA, Va. — NCUA announced Friday it approved a federal charter for another credit union — the Seneca Nation of Indians FCU — which will serve members of the Seneca Nation Indian tribe in western New York state.

NCUA's Office of Consumer Protection granted a multiple common-bond charter to the new credit union to serve employees and members of the Seneca Nation of Indians who qualify for membership under the Nation's constitution as well as employees of several other organizations affiliated with the tribe.

The CU will be headquartered in Irving, N.Y. (about 30 miles southwest of Buffalo) and is expected to open sometime in early August.

Seneca is the second federally chartered CU to be approved by NCUA this year. Earlier this week, New York-based the Finest Federal Credit Union, which received its charter approval from NCUA in February, held its grand opening on the steps of City Hall.

Connie Sherrer, formerly of the Summit FCU (a $747 million-asset institution based in Rochester, N.Y.), will serve as president and CEO of Seneca Nation. Debbie Culligan, a former manager of the Buffalo Community FCU (a $74 million Buffalo institution), will serve as its operations manager.

In an interview with Credit Union Journal, Sherrer said that she believes that the Seneca Nation, which has long been under-banked and under-served, will warmly welcome this new institution.

"I think it will be very successful and I believe the Nation will embrace us," she said. "Also, our financial literacy team will help any members with whatever issues they have. I think we will be very successful."

Though Sherrer is not a member of the Seneca Nations of Indians herself, she noted that she brings to the table over 30 years of credit union experience in western New York state.

"Our country's Native Americans need better access to affordable financial services," NCUA board chairman Debbie Matz said in a statement. "Seneca Nation of Indians Federal Credit Union is positioned to fulfill this role and to make investments that strengthen communities. The organizers want to provide access to a range of services while encouraging capital to stay local."

During its first year of operations, Seneca Nation plans to open a main office and two part-time offices. It will provide the following services: regular shares, share certificates, share drafts, club accounts, overdraft protection, unsecured loans, share-secured loans, new vehicle loans, used vehicle loans, credit-building loans, debit cards, online banking, money orders, bill payments, and courtesy pay.

NCUA also said that the Seneca Nation Council and executives have committed capital for the credit union and are providing free office space for three branch locations.

Founded in 1848, the Seneca Nation of Indians now has a membership of more than 8,100. The Nation's affiliated organizations employ more than 5,000 people, making them, in the aggregate, one of the largest employers in western New York state.

According to the Seneca Indian Nation website, it runs three casinos — Seneca Allegany, Seneca Niagara and Seneca Buffalo Creek.

NCUA's Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives has provided guidance to the charter group throughout the chartering process and will continue to assist the new institution.

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