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Class action payout for Native farmers

George and Marilyn Keepseagle at their ranch on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota
Courtesy of Cohen, Milstein, Sellers and Toll law firm
George and Marilyn Keepseagle at their ranch on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota

Alibi reporter Carolyn Carlson drove out to Gallup at the end of December to speak with claimants for a $760 million settlement. The payout is the result of a class action lawsuit—Keepseagle v. Vilsack— brought by Native American farmers who were denied USDA loans by a prejudiced Department of Agriculture.

The court battle was 13 years long.

After it was over, lawyers went to different parts of the country to find people who qualified for part of the settlement. About 300 people from New Mexico filed claims.

This isn’t the first time the Agriculture Department’s been in hot water for discrimination:

• In October 2011, African-American farmers settled their case against the Agriculture Department for $1.2 billion.

• In March 2011, women and Hispanic farmers settled their lawsuit for $1.3 billion.

 

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