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Native Brief: TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA - The Cherokee Nation is inviting American Indian farmers to Tahlequah on December 19-21 to receive free assistance with claims filing for the Keepseagle settlement, in which some American Indian farmers were allegedly discriminated against while seeking farm loans.
This is the final chance for farmers to receive free assistance with their claim.
Representatives from the Keepseagle settlement will be available from 9 am to 5 pm in the tribe's Tsalagi Community Room located behind the Restaurant of the Cherokees, 17725 S. Muskogee Avenue.
A $760 million settlement with the US Department of Agriculture was reached in the Keepseagle v. Vilsack class action lawsuit. The lawsuit claimed that the USDA denied thousands of Native American farmers and ranchers the same opportunities as white farmers who attempted to get a farm loan.
The lawsuit includes all Native American farmers and ranchers who attempted to farm between Jan. 1, 1981 and Nov. 24, 1999 while trying to secure a loan from the USDA. Farmers must have also filed an oral or written complaint about discrimination to a USDA representative or a tribal government. American Indian farmers who qualify as a class member may be eligible for a payment of up to $50,000 or more and forgiveness of some or all outstanding USDA loans.
According to Pat Gwin, Cherokee Nation's Natural Resources director, Native American farmers have a much higher chance of submitting a legitimate claim when they receive professional assistance.
"It's a good idea for folks that think they may have a claim to come out," Gwin said.
"Representatives have been hired by the Keepseagle lawsuit to assist Native American farmers with their claims for free and this will be their final opportunity to receive assistance."
The deadline for submitting a claim for the Keepseagle v. USDA lawsuit is Dec. 27, 2011. For more information about the lawsuit, visit www.indianfarmclass.com » or call 1-888-233-5506.
posted December 8, 2011 7:40 am est
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