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Chickasaw-owned bank targets American Indian mortgages

LAS VEGAS - A tribally-owned bank is making a big push into providing
mortgages for American Indians around the country.

Bank 2, based in Oklahoma City and owned by the Chickasaw Nation, is
brashly comparing itself to the biggest mortgage lenders in the country -
behemoths like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Washington Mutual Bank -
when it comes to Native home loan volume.

According to material it distributed at the National American Indian
Housing Council legal symposium here, the $70 million in assets Bank 2 has
become the number one Department of Housing and Urban Development section
184 guaranteed American Indian mortgage lender in Oklahoma and the third
biggest HUD 184 lender in the nation.

Bank 2 Chief Executive Ross A. Hill, in a letter written to legal symposium
attendees, told them "Bank 2 is fast becoming a leader in mortgage
origination and providing loans to Native Americans in Oklahoma and the

The bank made $4.5 million in loans to Natives in Oklahoma this year, has
77 tribes as customers around the country, has assisted five tribal housing
authorities in becoming approved for the HUD 184 program, and has made
American Indian home loans "from California to North Carolina, from Florida
to Alaska."

Hill pointed out that Bank 2 only joined the HUD 184 program this past
January. "We have a stated mission to close the gap in housing between
Native Americans and non-Native Americans," he said.

Reasons for the bank's success, Hill indicated, include recognizing the
need for real estate finance in Indian country, being passionate about
meeting that need, employing many Native Americans to implement the
program, using a defined team approach and giving superior service.

According to Hill, "it is our goal to become the largest single source
provider of home mortgage loans to Native Americans." For Hill personally,
"I believe that the First Americans should have every opportunity to own a
home. When it comes to financial services, Native Americans have been
underserved. Our goal is to change that reality."

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J.D. Colbert, well-known for leading the North American Native Bankers
Association, is the bank's director of Native American Services. Angie
Little, Choctaw, was hired as its Native American mortgage specialist.

Little, according to the bank, has more than 10 years of experience in
banking and mortgage lending. "There are many lending programs to Native
Americans that aren't being utilized. My goal is to raise awareness of
these home buying programs among Native Americans."

Besides the HUD 184, Little referred to the bond programs of the Oklahoma
Housing Finance Authority, which raise money for low-interest mortgages to
those qualified.

According to the bank, its Native loan program highlights include the fact
that loans are available on trust land, individual allotments, or fee
simple land, they feature low down payments from 1.25 percent to 2.25
percent, they can be used to refinance existing high rate loans, they have
a high maximum of 150 percent the Federal Housing Administration limit, the
1 percent bank fee is financeable, no private mortgage insurance is
required, new construction and rehab loans are permitted, the loans are
assumable, and they are 100 percent guaranteed by the federal government.

Bank 2 got its start in January 2002 with a small asset base of $6.5
million. The nation acquired a small commercial bank, First National Bank
of Davidson, and transferred its operation to Oklahoma City, rather than
start up a brand new one. It hired Hill, a professional banker, to run the

Bank 2's program appears to be independent from the mortgage program run by
the Chickasaw Nation. Called Chuka Chukmasi, or "Beautiful Home," the
nation offers mortgages to Chickasaws anywhere in the country, in
partnership with mortgage agency Fannie Mae, based in Washington, D.C.,
mortgage insurer PMI Mortgage, San Francisco, and lender First Mortgage of
Oklahoma City.

The use of mortgage insurance differentiates it from the Bank 2 program,
since the HUD 184 does not require mortgage insurance.

Chuka Chukmasi has won three national awards for innovation, and has made
more than 270 mortgages worth $19 million to tribal members to date,
Chickasaw Gov. Bill Anoatubby told a HUD meeting this summer.

It has won a HUD Best Practices Award, a Social Compact Award, and was
recognized by the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
for innovation.