Posts Tagged ‘Porter Holder’

George and Marilyn Keepseagle, who filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination against Native American farmers more than a decade ago, at their kitchen table last winter in Fort Yates, N.D. (AP/Will Kincaid)

George and Marilyn Keepseagle, who filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination against Native American farmers more than a decade ago, at their kitchen table last winter in Fort Yates, N.D. (AP/Will Kincaid)


It was announced Tuesday that the government would settle a class-action suit brought against them by three Native ranch families.
This Washington Post article calls the news a “celebration” for the families, who have fought for years to prove that, like the settlement acquiesces, Native American farmers have long been discriminated against. The case was settled for $760 million dollars.

This Q and A piece from Krissah Thompson of the Post goes through some of the emotions felt by the families.

    The lawsuit was led by three farm and ranch families: Marilyn Keepseagle and her husband, George, who live on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota; Claryca Mandan and her family of the Fort Berthold Reservation, also in North Dakota; and Porter Holder of Soper, Okla.

    Why does this settlement matter?

    Claryca Mandan: To us when we lose land that has been in our family for generations – and it’s been our land for centuries . . . it is more than just losing the homestead. Our land is sacred. Our land has always been sacred to native people, and to lose our land in that way and have it sold at auction is the most egregious thing that could have happened for us.

    Porter Holder: It’s huge. It’s huge. USDA has got good programs, but they are discriminatory in the way they give them out.

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The whole Shirley Sherrod incident brought to mind the unconscionable problems that black farmers had with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But as the Washington Post reminds its readers, Native American farmers were – and continue to be – similarly mistreated:

    George Keepseagle is the lead plaintiff in Keepseagle v. Vilsack, the class-action suit by Native American farmers and ranchers against the USDA. (AP photo)

    George Keepseagle is the lead plaintiff in Keepseagle v. Vilsack, the class-action suit by Native American farmers and ranchers against the USDA. (AP photo)

    Their frustrations echoed the observations of some black farmers who made similar observations last week that other USDA officials had not faced repercussions.

    Porter Holder, a Choctaw rancher and rodeo champion in southeastern Oklahoma, said he is disturbed that a USDA loan officer he complained about in the late 1990s is still on the job. In the Great Plains, Native American farmers say they have complained repeatedly about another veteran loan officer in the USDA’s Sidney, Mont., office who was involved in a recent confrontation that included the police.

    Loan officer Patrick Turner was arrested after the Feb. 23 incident, which occurred while he appraised the ranch of Roy “Tony” Anderson, a member of the Sioux tribe who lives on the Fort Peck reservation. In a police statement, Turner acknowledged hitting one of Anderson’s neighbors, who he said blocked the door to his truck. Under a deferred prosecution agreement, the charge was dismissed July 16.

The story makes for tough, but necessary, reading on a pretty summer day. Check it out.

Gwen Florio

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