BlueHub Capital makes $13 million investment in Maȟpíya Lúta (Red Cloud) to boost educational and economic outcomes on the Pine Ridge Reservation

April 18th, 2024

New Markets Tax Credit allocation helps Maȟpíya Lúta update critical infrastructure and build new Heritage Center to preserve and promote Lakȟóta culture

BlueHub Capital, a national nonprofit community development finance organization, today announces a $13 million New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) investment in Maȟpíya Lúta (Red Cloud), a nonprofit education and cultural organization supporting student success and economic opportunity for the Lakȟóta people. 

Maȟpíya Lúta is more than an educational institution; it's a vital cultural and economic hub. Its Heritage Center, established in 1974, stands as one of the earliest cultural centers and museums on an American Indian reservation in the US. Through its renowned gift shop and online store, artisans gain economic empowerment by showcasing their work to a global audience, preserving their craft and sharing their artistry with the world.

BlueHub's investment will create a larger, more suitable home for The Heritage Center, addressing its current space limitations and aging infrastructure. This new center, currently under construction, will become Pine Ridge Reservation's tourism hub, boasting a significant contemporary Indigenous art collection. Spanning 12,000 square feet, it will offer gallery and retail space for 300 local artists. The Heritage Center will also benefit local students, providing new opportunities to connect with Lakȟóta history and engage with traditional artforms spanning generations of knowledge. The financing will also help fund substantial upgrades to the campus’s outdated water infrastructure.

Maȟpíya Lúta’s K-12 school serves 500 children living on the reservation and boasts a 90% high school and 30% four-year college graduation rate, both double that of the community’s overall rates.

These physical and infrastructure improvements to Maȟpíya Lúta will result in enhanced educational outcomes, cultural and community programs, funding for Native American businesses, and quality and accessible jobs.

Maȟpíya Lúta situated on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota

In recognition of the historic trauma caused by Indian boarding schools across North America, Maȟpíya Lúta launched a Truth and Healing Initiative in 2019. With this work, Maȟpíya Lúta is working to reverse cultural suppression with a curriculum that celebrates Indigenous culture, including one of the first in the US dual-language Lakȟóta Language Immersion programs for elementary age children, and a food sovereignty program that teaches students how to identify native plants and prepare native medicines and foods, helping ensure the preservation of native culture.

BlueHub Capital collaborated with U.S. Bancorp Impact Finance on the transaction, which contributed its own NMTC allocation, and also served as the investor and purchaser of the credits.

“We are thrilled about our collaboration with BlueHub and U.S. Bancorp Impact Finance,” said Tashina Banks Rama, executive vice president of Maȟpíya Lúta. “Through the utilization of these tax credits, we are not just investing into a new arts building and water tower; we are investing into the future our of Oglala Lakȟóta community, creating opportunities for generations to come.”

This deal resulted in a $3.9 million subsidy to Maȟpíya Lúta, which will support these new educational and economic opportunities in an area where 69% of residents live in poverty.

“These new enhancements to Maȟpíya Lúta’s infrastructure and Heritage Center were driven by the community and honed over years of planning. BlueHub is proud to support the Lakȟóta people’s plans for Maȟpíya Lúta’s future,” said Elyse Cherry, CEO of BlueHub Capital. “Our New Markets Tax Credit allocation will help Maȟpíya Lúta achieve its ambitious and needed goal of investing in its people and facilities.”

The Pine Ridge Reservation covers more than 2.8 million acres in southwestern South Dakota, making it the second-largest reservation in the United States—about the size of the state of Connecticut. Due in part to its remote location, there are limited job opportunities. The lack of good roads, reliable communications systems, and other vital infrastructure further encumbers economic development, job creation and quality of life.

“Maȟpíya Lúta is providing students and artists a ladder out of poverty,” said Brenda Loya, president of BlueHub Managed Assets, an affiliate of BlueHub Capital that leads its NMTC program. “BlueHub has a long history of financing innovative schools and impactful arts and culture facilities that make communities more vibrant. We look forward to the day when The Heritage Center’s new community and gathering space will be filled with people for fairs, dances, pow wows, markets, storytelling and processions. Maȟpíya Lúta’s next chapter looks bright.”

Tawa Ducheneaux, executive director of The Heritage Center, added, “We know ourselves to be of service to our community, one which is steeped in the arts, historically, culturally, and spiritually; we are thrilled about the opportunities the new space will provide so that we’re able to welcome more of our community, visitors, and share more of our stories through the arts.”

BlueHub’s NMTC program supports high-impact community development projects that benefit low income and underserved areas. Fueled by allocations of tax credits from the US Department of the Treasury, the program facilitates private investments and lowers the cost of capital for community and economic development projects that create quality jobs and long-term opportunities for low-income people and communities.  BlueHub works with United Fund Advisors of Portland, Oregon, on its NMTC strategy and investments.

BlueHub Capital has received 10 allocations totaling $608 million from the US Department of the Treasury’s NMTC program. Previous allocations have been deployed in 20 states across the US, ranging from:

  • Community facilities such as a healthcare center, social service organization, and schools in Connecticut, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Massachusetts,
  • Food manufacturers in Tennessee and Georgia,
  • Commercial real estate redevelopment projects in Texas, North Dakota, Virginia and Connecticut.

About BlueHub Capital
BlueHub Capital is a mission-driven, nonprofit community development finance organization focused on building healthy communities where low-income people live and work. BlueHub uses innovative financial tools to support projects that make communities more vibrant places to live through four distinct programs: BlueHub Loan Fund (community development financing), BlueHub SUN (foreclosure relief), BlueHub Energy (clean energy access) and One Percent for America (citizenship financing). Visit BlueHub Capital's website for more information about our impact.

About Maȟpíya Lúta (Red Cloud)
Maȟpíya Lúta is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Established in 1888, Maȟpíya Lúta today includes four schools that serve nearly 500 students, pastoral services that serve nearly 800 families in communities throughout the reservation, and The Heritage Center – a Native, cultural arts center that works with over 300 Native artists annually.