Plaintiff in Indian farmers case died after learning of settlement
Luke Crasco, a member of the Fort Belknap Tribes of Montana, was a lead plaintiff in the Keepseagle case for Indian farmers and ranchers who experienced discrimination at the Department of Agriculture.

Crasco was repeatedly discouraged from seeking loans for his farm on the reservation, according to the complaint. He was told the money ran out or to ask his tribe for help.

"Why don't you Indians just go back to Fort Belknap and borrow money there? That's where you belong," one loan officer reportedly told him, The Billings Gazette reported.

After more than 10 years, Crasco finally learned of the $860 million settlement to the case last month. The 66-year-old Vietnam veteran was in the hospital at the time and died a few days later.

"His eyes popped open and his eyebrows raised," Crasco's widow, Irene, told the paper. "He knew we had won.

As part of the settlement, Crasco's estate will receive $100,000, in addition to other compensation. The money is expected to start flowing in April 2011, when a federal judge holds a final hearing on the deal.

Farmers and ranchers who want a share of the money can visit for more information.

Get the Story:
Discrimination settlement could mean big payments for Montana Indian farmers (The Billings Gazette 11/14)
Two tracks to discimination compensation in settlement agreement (The Billings Gazette 11/14)
Meeting set on Indian farmers lawsuit settlement (AP 11/14)
Press Release: Official Notification of Native American Farmers and Ranchers About $760 Million Keepseagle Class Action Settlement Begins (Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll 11/12)

Relevant Documents:
Plaintiffs Press Release | Settlement | Notice Form A | Notice Form B
Damages Award | Loan Debt Relief
Native American Farmers and Ranchers Council | Named Plaintiffs
President Obama Statement | USDA Press Release

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