indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Dynamic Homes
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Rep. Rahall statement on Elouise Cobell in Congressional Record
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Filed Under: Cobell | National
More on: blackfeet, elouise cobell, montana, nick rahall, women
 
Rep. Nick Rahall (D-West Virginia) is submitting the following remarks to the Congressional Record today.

EXTENSION OF REMARKS
OF
THE HONORABLE NICK J. RAHALL, III
OF WEST VIRGINIA
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
OCTOBER 25, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join Indian country in mourning the death of Elouise Cobell, who passed away on Sunday, October 16th. Her role as lead plaintiff in the historic Cobell v. Salazar litigation has forever changed the way the federal government views the trust responsibility with Native Americans. Elouise Cobell was a true Indian leader.

She was born Elouise Catherine Pepion, November 5, 1945, on the Blackfeet Nation reservation located on the eastern edge of Glacier National Park in Montana. After graduating from Great Falls Business College, she became an accountant and rancher. Later, Elouise served as Treasurer for the Blackfeet Nation for 13 years and helped found the first all Indian owned national bank.

It was during her time as tribal treasurer that she realized the royalty checks received by tribal members seemed substantially lower than the value of the resources owned. She learned as much as she could about the way the federal government handled the Indian trust fund accounts and found that over decades, others in Indian country had claimed the funds were badly mismanaged.

In the mid 1980’s Elouise, already frustrated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), came to Congress looking for assistance and justice for all Individual Indian Money account holders. All she wanted was what all of us expect from our banker – to know how much is in each account and a showing that the balance was correct.

In 1992, the House Government Operations Committee issued a report titled, “Misplaced Trust: The BIA’s Mismanagement of the Indian Trust Fund.” The report called the BIA’s management of Indian trust funds “grossly inadequate in numerous important respects.” It further found that the BIA had “failed to fulfill its fiduciary duties to beneficiaries of the Indian Trust Fund.”

Congress passed the American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act of 1994 to give account holders more control over, and access to, their funds, and to provide a model to reform the system. Unfortunately, little was changed at the BIA. Fed up and frustrated with stonewalling and continued mismanagement, in 1996 Elouise filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of more than 500,000 Indians at a time when no one else would.

In 1999, the United States District Court for the District of Colombia confirmed what Indian country had always known – the Department of the Interior had breached its trust obligation to Indians in handling Indian funds. Fourteen years after the case was first filed, 220 days of trial, 80 court decisions, and two contempt citations against Cabinet secretaries later, President Obama signed into law the landmark $3.4 billion settlement for the Indian account holders.

Because of Elouise and the litigation that she initiated, the Department of Interior has made numerous changes to way it does business with respect to Indian funds and trust resources. Seattle University Law School Indian Law Professor Eric Eberhard said there is “no doubt that Elouise Cobell changed the legal landscape when it comes to Indian law and the federal government’s trust responsibilities.”

Against all odds, Elouise persevered with her commitment to the issue. Since the early 90’s, the Committee on Natural Resources held numerous hearings on the issues associated with the handling of Indian trust funds. It was during my tenure as Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee that I had the privilege and honor of getting to know and work with Elouise. Her dedication to this issue was bar none.

Elouise won so many battles; the only one she lost was to the cancer that took her from us too soon. She will be remembered for her strength, courage, and positive outlook. We can honor her life by continuing the work she started.

I ask that my colleagues join me in celebrating the life of Elouise Cobell and her many achievements, and in expressing our sincere condolences to her husband Alvin, her son Turk, and all her family and friends.


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Tribe threw away late veteran's memorabilia (10/31)
Mark Trahant: The Native vote could decide the 2014 election (10/31)
Richard Peterson: Sen. Begich supports Alaska Native issues (10/31)
NCAI investigates conduct of treasurer at annual convention (10/31)
Red Lake News: Tribe welcomes Sen. Tester and Sen. Franken (10/31)
Former chairman of Chippewa Cree Tribe faces more charges (10/31)
Texas couple accused of selling fake tribal membership cards (10/31)
Moapa Band loses bid for $438M solar facility on reservation (10/31)
Passamaquoddy Tribe won't talk with tidal power developers (10/31)
Oregon tribe anticipates May 2015 opening for Class II casino (10/31)
Trial opens in case connected to Choctaw Nation casino work (10/31)
Editorial: Off-reservation gaming project unfair to other tribes (10/31)
Opinion: Menominee Nation exploits loophole to pursue casino (10/31)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux officer rejoins Rapid City police (10/30)
Mark Trahant: Native voters must be prepared on election day (10/30)
Kevin Gover: Mascot fight exposes myths about Native people (10/30)
Northern Arapaho Tribe: Newspaper got it wrong on joint council (10/30)
Peter d'Errico: Kevin Washburn honored by Indian law students (10/30)
Chris Deschene still urging Navajo Nation voters to choose him (10/30)
Tribes in North Carolina back Democrat Sen. Hagan in tight race (10/30)
NWPR: Tribes take steps to control growing herds of wild horses (10/30)
Opinion: Helping the Tongva people revive their own language (10/30)
Judge grants injunction to keep Chukchansi Tribe casino closed (10/30)
Tribes in South Dakota would benefit from gaming referendum (10/30)
Employee at Puyallup Tribe's casino gets wedding ring returned (10/30)
Editorial: Keep tribal casinos in California on existing Indian land (10/30)
Column: Menominee Nation off-reservation casino goes ignored (10/30)
Quapaw Tribe faces competition for Kansas commercial casino (10/30)
Native Sun News: Montana tribe sees cut in heating assistance (10/29)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Senate race is a real test of Native policy (10/29)
Winona LaDuke: Taking treaty advice from indigenous nations (10/29)
Vena A-Dae Romero: FDA failing to consult tribal governments (10/29)
Zachary Pullin: Native Americans overcame barriers to voting (10/29)
Navajo Nation president vetoes bill to address language issue (10/29)
Prairie Island Indian Community sues over nuclear waste rule (10/29)
County's letter on CSKT water compact talks stirs controversy (10/29)
Vice: Hip-hop artist Drezus on new journey after jail sentence (10/29)
Opinion: Overcoming stereotypes of Native American culture (10/29)
Charges sought in dispute at Chukchansi Tribe's closed casino (10/29)
Pechanga Band chair featured in ads against North Fork casino (10/29)
Grand Ronde Tribes continue fight against Cowlitz Tribe casino (10/29)
Puyallup Tribe offers reward for return of casino worker's ring (10/29)
more headlines...


Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.