Native Village
Youth and Education news
November 1, 2010, Volume

Native American Farmers Win $680M in Discrimination Suit
Condensed by Native Village

Havasupai Indian farming community Havasu Canyon.

The Obama administration will pay $680,000,000 to Native American farmers denied the same low-interest loans given to white farmers between 1981 - 2007.

The farmers filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture 11 years ago. The settlement says farmers and ranchers can get up to
$250,000 each if they prove the USDA caused them economic losses.

But most farmers will likely opt for a $50,000 payment that requires less paperwork.

The lawsuit, Keepseagle v. Vilsack, was named for Marilyn Keepseagle, who filed the class-action lawsult.  The North Dakota farmer said the settlement would "help thousands of Native Americans who are still farming and ranching. But more important, through this settlement we will leave to our children and grandchildren a farm loan system far more responsive to our community than the system we inherited from our parents."

Similar complaints from black farmers led to a $1,250,000,000 settlement last February. Congress, however, has not given them their money.

In recent years, other lawsuits were filed against the USDA for discriminating on its farm loan programs. The issue became national news when USDA employee Shirley Sherrod resigned. A video clip suggested she didn't fully help a white farmer in 1986 because of his race. Sherrod is black.

However, a full video emerged, showing that she actually helped the farmer. The President and Tom Vilsack, the Agriculture Secretary, apologized and offered Sherrod her job back. She declined.

The Native Americans' settlement includes an additional
$80,000,000 of debt forgiveness and $20.000,000 in administrative fees. It must first be be approved by a federal district court

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