Law | National

Keepseagle attorneys open application process for $38M in grants






Young members of the Meskwaki Tribe at work at the Red Earth Gardens in Iowa. Photo from Facebook

Applications are now being accepted for the Native American Agricultural Fast Track Fund.

The fund is seeded with $38 million from the historic Keepseagle settlement. Grants will be awarded to non-profit organizations, tribal programs and educational institutions that provide agricultural, business, technical or advocacy services to existing and aspiring Native farmers and ranchers.

Interested groups must submit a letter of inquiry and supporting documentation by June 24, according to a press release. A technical assistance webinar will be held June 1 to assist with the process.

Applicants that meet eligibility requirements and align with the purposes of the Fast Track Fund will then be notified by July 28. They will be invited to submit full proposals that are due by September 2.

The finalists will then be submitted to a federal judge for final approval. Awards are expected to go out before the end of the year.

The Obama administration settled the Keepseagle case in October 2010 to address discrimination experienced by Native farmers and ranchers at the Department of Agriculture. It included $680 million in payments to Indian farmers and ranchers and an $80 million loan forgiveness fund.

Some $380 million was left over after payments were made to successful claimants. The $38 million for the Fast Track Fund comes out of that amount and it is controlled by the attorneys who handled the case.

Another $265 million is going into a separate trust that will distribute the funds on business assistance, education and technical support for farmers and ranchers over 20 years. That effort is still in development.

The remaining $77 million is being distributed in the form of cash and tax payments to the successful claimants in the case.

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