Mary Pember: Indian farmers told to stay 'patient' for settlement
"American Indian farmers are advised to “be patient.”

No kidding.

Even as the U.S. Senate voted Friday to pay settlements in two large lawsuits — one involving black farmers who suffered discrimination at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and another involving a mismanaged trust of Native American assets — Indian farmers are will waiting.

The case that still demands patience is styled Keepseagle v. Vilsack. The lawsuit was brought by Native American farmers and ranchers, including Marilyn and George Keepseagle of Fort Yates, North Dakota. The Keepseagles and others claim that the U.S. Department of Agriculture discriminated against Indians by denying them equal access to credit in the USDA Farm Credit Program. It was filed in 1999.

USDA officials and lawsuit plaintiffs reached a settlement in October of this year in the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. Now, Indian plaintiffs must wait until the court holds a “final fairness hearing,” at which it will decide whether or not to approve the settlement.

The hearing date is April 28, 2011. Then, according to a website tracking the case: “Payments will not be made until after the Court grants final approval to the Settlement and after all Claims Packages are reviewed. This cannot happen until after December 24, 2011. Please be patient”

Talk about a boatload of patience. "

Get the Story:
Mary Annette Pember: Indian Farmers Glimpse End to 'Keepseagle' Case (The Daily Yonder 11/22)

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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