American Indian Farmers Urge Obama to Settle USDA Lawsuit

By Leticia Miranda Oct 21, 2009

The National Congress of American Indians, a national organization of American Indian tribal governments, recently passed a resolution asking Obama to settle a lawsuit against the USDA who denied thousands of American Indian farmers credit to keep their farms running. From the Native Times:

NCAI’s resolution…calls for a “negotiated settlement of the Keepseagle vs. Vilsack case as quickly as possible, along the lines” of a settlement that the USDA previously entered into with black farmers who alleged similar types of systemic racial discrimination in the USDA’s farm loan programs. To that end, the NCAI “urges the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture to commence meaningful negotiations towards a settlement of the Keepseagle litigation as soon as possible, including both monetary and prospective relief.” According to a recent expert report, Native American farmers and ranchers suffered approximately $500 million to $1 billion dollars of economic losses due to the USDA’s discrimination that resulted in the denial of $3 billion worth of credit.

The emphasis is mine. Really, $3 billion dollars? Not to mention the loss of farmland for tribes who have historically lost land to the US government and continue to lose land to corporations like TransCanada who recently won a lawsuit to build an oil pipeline through the land of four American Indian tribes, despite tribal agreements. The resolution also urges Obama to put a moratorium on foreclosures of some American Indian farmers and ranchers. Without the moratorium, these ranchers and farmers could lose everything before their day in court. Photo by Paul Corbit Brown.