Indian farmers protest foundation with $380M Keepseagle funds

Indian farmers and ranchers lead a protest outside the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C. Photo from Association of American Indian Farmers / Facebook

Indian farmers and ranchers, including lead plaintiffs Marilyn and George Keepseagle, are opposing a proposal to use $380 million in leftover funds from the Keepseagle settlement for a new 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 handled the case want to use the money for a foundation. But Marilyn Keepseagle, 77, told Judge Emmet Sullivan that “would be another way for discrimination, because not all people are going to benefit," the Associated Press reported.

Sullivan held a hearing on Tuesday to discuss the proposal. Outside the courthouse in Washington, D.C., the Association of American Indian Farmers, a new group, held a rally to oppose the idea.

The Keepseagle attorneys held a series of meetings and conference calls across Indian Country in July and August to discuss the foundation. Keepsagle and other farmers say they want the remaining funds to be distributed in another round to potential claimants who suffered discrimination at the Department of Agriculture

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma tried to intervene in the case to claim a share of the funds. Sullivan denied the request last month.

Get the Story:
American Indian groups argue over settlement money (AP 12/2)
Choctaw Nation Will Not Share in Bias Dollars (Courthouse News Service 11/14)

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