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Government offers $680 million for Indian farmers

The government is offering American Indian farmers who say they were denied farm loans a $680 million settlement.
By MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press Writer Modified: October 20, 2010 at 8:35 am •  Published: October 19, 2010
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The American Indian money would not need legislative action to be awarded. That means plaintiffs might receive their money much faster than black farmers who are still waiting for Congress to approve money for the second round of their settlement. Money for American Indians who say they were swindled out of oil, gas, grazing, timber and other royalties from the Interior Department is also stalled in Congress.

In his statement Tuesday, President Obama called on Congress to approve those funds for black farmers and plaintiffs in the Indian trust case. He said the administration is also working to resolve cases involving Hispanic and women farmers who say they were discriminated against.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the settlement "can never undo wrongs" that American Indians have experienced, but the settlement will provide relief.

Claryca Mandan of North Dakota's Three Affiliated Tribes, a plaintiff in the case, stopped ranching after she and her husband were denied loans in the early 1980s. She said she was pleased with the settlement.

"This is a culmination of 30 years of struggle," she said.