Plaintiffs and attorneys in
Keepseagle lawsuit are seen in this 2011 photo following the announcement of a
settlement. Photo by Native
The lead plaintiffs in the Keepseagle case are lashing out at the attorneys who are trying to set up a foundation with leftover money from the settlement.
Marilyn and George Keepseagle sent a letter to Judge Emmet Sullivan last week outlining their concerns. They want the remaining $380 million to benefit Indian farmers and ranchers who suffered discrimination at the Department of Agriculture.
"We fought for this settlement for over 20 years now," the letter states. "We did not fight for this for a foundation."
The Obama administration settled the case in 2011 for $680 million in direct payments to Indian farmers and ranchers and for an $80 million loan forgiveness fund. All claims were successfully processed but now there's $380 million in cy pres funds that remain.
The attorneys who have been handling the case have proposed using the $380 million to set up a trust fund. Proceeds from the fund would be distributed to non-profit organizations that serve Indian farmers and ranchers.
A series of public meetings and webinars were held across the country in July and August to discuss the issue. The Keepseagles say they were sidelined during the process.
"Marilyn attended the meeting Billings, Montana, and was told she could not speak to the moderators, or the other class members," the letter states. "How can these sessions claim to be open forums for class members when our questions and concerns were ignored and we were not allowed to discuss the issue fulling among ourselves?"
Due to their refusal to agree to the foundation proposal, the Keepseagles were told they were no longer a part of the lawsuit that bears their name, the letter states.
Get the Story:
Keeps Eagle couple blasts settlement foundation plan
(The Native American Times 9/29)
Native Sun News: Indian
farmers question Keepseagle attorneys (08/22)
Details announced for
meetings about $380M Keepseagle fund (07/17)
Keepseagle attorneys schedule meetings to
discuss $380M fund (7/8)
USDA questions plan to create
$380M Keepseagle foundation (09/18)
Opinion: Keepseagle foundation boosts farmers and
Choctaw Nation seeks
$58.5M from Keepseagle for foundation (9/6)
Keepseagle foundation would share $380M with Indian
Magazine: Farmers hope for
new era with USDA settlement (8/27)
Most of Indian farmer
discrimination settlement goes unspent (04/26)