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Tatanka Funds Meets Soaring Demand for Homeownership Classes

Rosebud-based Tatanka Funds has partnered with Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial to offer online classes in homeownership readiness. The first round of courses took place last week and were the first in a series that will be offered through an ongoing collaboration.


Travis Leading Cloud (far right) works with participants in a free class on financial literacy. Leading Cloud is the Training Coordinator for Tatanka Funds, which has partnered with Mazaska to offer monthly online homeownership readiness classes.
Travis Leading Cloud (far right) works with participants in a free class on financial literacy. Leading Cloud is the Training Coordinator for Tatanka Funds, which has partnered with Mazaska to offer monthly online homeownership readiness classes.

Despite being a relatively new partnership, the classes received an enthusiastic response from the community. “I was in awe when I saw that over 60 people had registered for the class,” said Britney Hiseley, the Executive Director of Tatanka Funds. “It is great to see so many people interested in homeownership and wanting to learn about different types of loans and options so they can purchase their future home.”

The class material is designed specifically for Native communities said Hiseley, who is Potawatomi and Cherokee and has longstanding ties to Rosebud. “As Indigenous people, it is important that our teaching materials are designed with our unique needs and philosophies in mind,” she said. “Homeownership isn’t necessarily traditional for us. [Tatanka Funds] is trying to support people to understand the homeownership process so that we can create new traditions that still keep our values.”

The eight-hour course can be taken either as four two-hour classes or as one eight-hour session, and covers topics ranging from creating a spending plan to applying for a home loan.

Rosebud resident Nicholas Emery, who registered for the class, cited family as a reason for his interest. “For a long time, I’ve wanted to own my own home. I have a good-sized family and I want to have something I can give to my children,” he said. “I looked at the workbook (for the class) and I saw a lot of good things in there about budgeting and planning.”

Given the demand for the class, Emery is not alone. However, despite the high level of interest, homeownership rates remain low in Native communities. According to the Federal Reserve, only about 56% of people in Indian Country own their own home, compared to US national rate of 71% for people living in rural areas. There are many reasons for this gap, but part of the problem is a shortage of affordable housing. The Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) completed a housing needs assessment which estimated that 30% of the Rosebud population is unhoused or living in an overcrowded or inadequate home. The study estimates an additional 500 homes need to be built to fully address this issue.

This presents a problem, Hiseley says, because most developers are intimidated by the idea of investing on tribal land due to their unfamiliarity with the communities and jurisdiction. In order to alleviate the need for outside help, Tatanka Funds is working closely with REDCO to identify and work with potential homeowners to prepare them for the Keya Wakpala Woicageyapi housing development that REDCO is leading. The first stage of development at the site will include 10 single-family homes. “This is a really exciting opportunity for tribal citizens to move into brand new housing, and we want to make sure people are prepared for everything that comes along with homeownership.”

Hiseley and Travis Leading Cloud, the Training Coordinator for Tatanka Funds, see these homeownership classes as being just one small piece of what Tatanka Funds offers over the long term. “As a Community Development Financial Institute (CDFI), we are here to support the community on rebuilding credit through financial classes, financial coaching, and best practices. We offer one-on-one assistance in creating a spending plan, business start-up information, and creating a business plan,” said Hiseley. “In the future, we also plan to offer loan products to increase access for tribal members. We will have small business loans, consumer loans, and agriculture loans.”

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