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US Senate Approves Billions for Black Farmers, Native Americans

John W. Boyd, Jr., founder and President of the National Black Farmers Association, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, 23 Sep 2010 (file photo)

The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved a combined $4.55 billion in settlements to black farmers and Native Americans, ending years of litigation on charges of racial bias and mismanagement.

The $1.15 billion allocation to black farmers represents the largest civil rights settlement in U.S history.

The federal government was accused of a decades-old practice of denying and underpaying loans to black farmers because of their race.

The $3.4 billion settlement for Native Americans also spans several years. The government was charged with mismanaging American Indian trust funds.

Under the settlement agreement, a trust and scholarship fund will be set up, and the government will buy back tribal lands sold to individuals.

President Barack Obama applauded the Senate's action and urged the House of Representatives to continue on its path of approval, so he can sign the measure into law.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.