Obama Administration Settles Native American Farm Loan Case

Friday, October 22, 2010
Marilyn Keepseagle, Claryca Mandan, and Porter Holder (AP Photo, J. Scott Applewhite)
Native American farmers rejoiced this week as the Obama administration settled an 11-year legal battle involving allegations of discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In addition to USDA officials conceding the government unfairly denied farm loans and other support to Native Americans, the agreement calls for the payment of $680 million in damages and forgiving $80 million of outstanding farm loan debt.
The federal government also will create a Native American Farmer and Rancher Council to advise USDA, appoint a department ombudsman, provide more technical assistance to Native American farmers and conduct a systematic review of farm loan program rules.
Involving nearly 900 people and covering USDA actions dating back to 1981, the class action lawsuit began in 1999 through the leadership of three families: Marilyn Keepseagle and her husband, George, of Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota; Claryca Mandan and her family of the Fort Berthold Reservation, also in North Dakota; and Porter Holder of Soper, Oklahoma.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Native American Farmers Settle with USDA for $760 Million (by Spencer S. Hsu and Krissah Thompson, Washington Post)
Marilyn Keepseagle et al. v. Tom Vilsack (U.S. District Court, District of Columbia) (pdf)


Leave a comment