by Native News Network Staff in Native Briefs. Discussion »
NATIVE BRIEF: WASHINGTON, DC - American Indian farmers were awarded a $760 million settlement by federal District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on Thursday.
$680 Million Settlement
The American Indian and Alaska Native farmers filed the “Keepseagle” class action lawsuit in 1999 claiming the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) discriminated against American Indian farmers by denying them equal access to credit in the USDA Farm Loan Program.
The settlement was settled on October 19, 2010 and approved Thursday by District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan. The settlement includes the $680 million and up to $80 million in USDA loan forgiveness.
The White House released the following statement by President Barak Obama:
“Today, the U.S. District Court approved the settlement reached by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Justice with the plaintiffs in the Keepseagle class action lawsuit. This is yet another important step forward in addressing an unfortunate chapter in USDA’s civil rights history.
This settlement would not have been reached without the leadership of Secretary Vilsack and Attorney General Holder, and I want to thank them both for their hard work on behalf of Native American farmers. Today’s approval of the settlement will help strengthen our nation to nation relationship with Indian.”
In a statement released by the USDA, Agriculture Secretary stated:
“USDA will work diligently to improve services to Native farmers and ranchers and we look forward to the establishment in the coming months of the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching. We are committed to changing the culture that made this settlement necessary, and we believe we are well on the way to doing just that.”
Individual American Indian and Alaska Native farmers who can prove discrimination are eligible to receive up to $250.000.
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