indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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:
Cherokee Nation chief apologizes for attending live pigeon shoot (10/1)
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Telling the indigenous story with public art (10/1)
DOI puts another $1M from lands sales into Cobell scholarships (10/1)
9th Circuit bars use of tribal conviction in domestic assault case (10/1)
2nd Circuit rebuffs tribal online lenders in dispute with New York (10/1)
Crystal Willcuts: A tribute to my mother who was lost to cancer (10/1)
Seneca Nation man launches campaign for mayor of Salamanca (10/1)
BIA ends comment period on reform to federal recognition rule (10/1)
African-American lawmakers accuse Pamunkey Tribe of racism (10/1)
Officials claim Oklahoma owed $30M in Impact Aid for schools (10/1)
FCC will consider petition to outlaw R-word on public airwaves (10/1)
BLM struggles to manage wild horse population as herds grow (10/1)
Opinion: North Fork Rancheria casino brings boost to economy (10/1)
Report places economic impact of US gaming industry at $240B (10/1)
Shinnecock Nation gaming partner cut $250K monthly payment (10/1)
Column: Seminole Tribe poised for continued growth in gaming (10/1)
Native Sun News: Agency weighs uranium mine near sacred site (9/30)
Jim Abourezk: South Dakota tribes can put Rick Weiland in office (9/30)
Cherokee chief participated in live pigeon shoot for Sen. Inhofe (9/30)
Navajo vice president returns home after near fatal spider bite (9/30)
North Dakota tribe sees big problems as energy industry grows (9/30)
Andre Cramblit: Another year brings challenges for our people (9/30)
Jack Duran: State's 'shocking' attack on Big Lagoon Rancheria (9/30)
Navajo Nation Council to select a new leader after resignation (9/30)
Editorial: Long delayed trust fund settlement for Navajo Nation (9/30)
Keepseagle plaintiffs oppose use of $380M to create foundation (9/30)
Opinion: Working with New Mexico tribes to protect sacred sites (9/30)
Pueblo man chosen as chair of VA minority advisory committee (9/30)
Woman sues over fall at Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe business (9/30)
Seminole Tribe makes another attempt to join banking business (9/30)
Mohegan Tribe purchases more wood pellet production facilities (9/30)
Ponca Tribe takes down old headquarters and readies new home (9/30)
Native Mob gang leader sentenced to 43 years in federal prison (9/30)
Three indicted for murder of man from Northern Arapaho Tribe (9/30)
Rivals funded DC trips to oppose Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/30)
American Gaming Association includes tribes in economic report (9/30)
Editorial: Vote yes to support North Fork Rancheria gaming deal (9/30)
Editorial: Florida shouldn't take a gamble with casino expansion (9/30)
Tim Giago: All Indian people ask is for America to honor treaties (9/29)
Native Sun News: Tribes take on IRS and win battle over taxation (9/29)
Mark Trahant: Indian vote could bring a surprise in South Dakota (9/29)
Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act signed into law by Obama (9/29)
Obama signs law for settlement with Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (9/29)
Chelsey Luger and Gyasi Ross: Transforming the spirit of suicide (9/29)
Migizi Pensoneau: Behind the scenes at a Washington NFL game (9/29)
Donna Ennis: Ancestor starting asking about trust fund in 1900s (9/29)
Steven Newcomb: Indigenous conference yields power to states (9/29)
Kyle Mays: Rejecting narrowminded views of indigenous studies (9/29)
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.