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$380 Million Leftover from Native American Discrimination Settlement
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Summary: The claimants of the settlement would like to see the money distributed between them, while the government wants the leftover money to go to nonprofit groups.

On Monday, a federal judge in Sioux Falls, South Dakota will start hearing the arguments on how the leftover $380 million from a settlement between the USDA and discriminated against Native American farmers and ranchers should be dispersed.


The District Judge from the case, Emmet Sullivan, had already heard comments about how the money should be handled, most of which came from the Native Americans that had already received payments wanting another round of payments. The 2010 settlement is from the 1999 class action lawsuit from a group of Native Americans that claimed the U.S. Department of Agriculture discriminated against them when they tried to get loans from them for their own farms and ranches.

The USDA agreed to pay $680 million plus another $80 million in debt relief for the Keepseagle v. Vilsack case. The department has made similar settlements in other cases brought by minority groups. There was a claims process for the Native Americans that claimed they were discriminated against to apply for. The USDA assumed there would some leftover money so they included a provision. The leftover money was supposed to be given to nonprofit groups that help Native American farmers and ranchers.

Only around 3,600 Native Americans successful came forward to claim compensation, a number that was far smaller than predicted. Many of the claimants want another round of payments since they were the ones that were discriminated against, not the nonprofit groups. The government opposes this they amount they originally received is similar to what the other minority members received in their settlements.

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Another proposed idea is for the claims period to be opened again so that more farmers and ranchers that were discriminated against are given another chance to file their claim. Whatever is decided, an appeal is expected.




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