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Elouise Cobell, 1945-2011

17 October 2011 by Julie Biando Edwards

Elouise Cobell (Blackfeet), hailed by many as a female warrior, has passed away at the age of 65. Cobell was instrumental in fighting the United States government over the mismanagement of Native trust funds. Cobell and four others sued the federal government in 1996 and the case was finally settled in 2009. President Obama released the following statement:

“Michelle and I were saddened to hear about the passing of Elouise Cobell yesterday. Elouise spoke out when she saw that the Interior Department had failed to account for billions of dollars that they were supposed to collect on behalf of more than 300,000 of her fellow Native Americans. Because she did, I was able to sign into law a piece of legislation that finally provided a measure of justice to those who were affected.  That law also creates a scholarship fund to give more Native Americans access to higher education, and give tribes more control over their own lands.  Elouise helped to strengthen the government to government relationship with Indian Country, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family, and all those who mourn her passing.”

You can read tributes to Cobell in the Missoulian and Indian Country Today, among many other news sources. You can also read an interview with Cobell in the Independent, as well as journalist Jodi Rave’s speech on Cobell’s accomplishments here. You can also click here to learn more about the Indian Trust Settlement.

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