President Obama: Elouise Cobell leaves a strong legacy
Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2011
"With the passing of Elouise Cobell, a proud member of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana, we have lost a champion of Native American rights. Her persistent and determined leadership in the pursuit of justice for Native Americans will leave an enduring legacy.
As treasurer of the Blackfeet Nation, Elouise spoke out when she saw that the federal government had failed to account for billions of dollars that it owed to hundreds of thousands of her fellow Native Americans. In 1996, she filed suit, and for 15 years, tirelessly led a legal battle, with seven trials, 10 appeals, and dozens of published decisions. She fought her battle not just in the courts, but in the halls of Congress before finally securing justice for more than 300,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives in the form of a $3.4 billion settlement.
The agreement reached in Cobell v. Salazar marked the largest government class-action settlement in our nation’s history. The scholarship fund this settlement established will give more Native Americans access to higher education. Tribes will have more control over their own lands. Elouise’s tireless efforts strengthened the government-to-government relationship with Indian country, and a generation of Native Americans and all Americans has seen the promise of justice realized."
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President Barack Obama Remembers Elouise Cobell
(Indian Country Today 10/27)
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