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First Ever Private Bank Opens on North Dakota Reservation

January 11, 2008

Belcourt, ND – The Turtle Mountain State Bank in Belcourt, N.D., is open for business. It is a real rarity, said to be the first privately-owned bank on a Native American reservation in the country.

The bank opened its doors in early December, and on January 17 there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony to be attended by Gov. John Hoeven.

Belcourt, a community of 2,500 just south of the Canadian border, is the tribal seat of the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa. The bank's majority stockholder, James Luducer, says a financial institution in the heart of the community will have a major economic impact for the people of the Turtle Mountains.

"Some of the most poverty-stricken areas in the country are our reservations, mainly because they didn't really have an economic boost; no economic opportunities were available. This bank will make those opportunities available."

Luducer counts only 20 businesses operating today in Belcourt, but he believes that will improve.

"If you take a picture of it now and take a picture of it 10 years from now, you are going to see a dramatic difference."

Luducer says opening the first privately-owned bank on a federally-recognized reservation was a long haul; the process took almost two years.

The bank's website is www.tmstatebank.com.

Dick Layman/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - ND