Gyasi Ross: Cobell a hero and warrior for Indian Country
"I paid close attention to the Elouise Cobell litigation and settlement and am amazed at the meanness and anger of the comments directed at her. Like my grandpa, she recognized that there was a need; she recognized that the U.S. took advantage of Natives for a long time and was not making any effort to make things right. Therefore, she proactively took steps to fix that situation—to right wrongs and address problems. Seems like a good thing.

Still, were her efforts perfect?

Not by a long-shot. I’m sure that if one was to ask Ms. Cobell, she would tell you that there were things—legally, administratively, and personally—that she and her team could have done better. She, like my grandpa, is not above reproach, and we should always think critically about our leadership. In fact, I’ll bet that she can probably point to a million mistakes that we’ve missed and don’t see, but she sees because she’s been looking over these documents for many years. My guess is that she’s probably her worst critic about this lawsuit and welcomes legal and administrative criticisms.

Still, it seems somewhat cowardly when people charge Elouise with the same criticisms that my grandpa faced: “sell-out,” “opportunist,” “traitor,” “colluder.” She deserves better than that. For example, suggesting that Miss Cobell colluded with the government is silly and should be insulting to our collective intelligence. In the Cobell litigation, federal officials working on behalf of the government were charged with contempt of court twice for not producing documents that would help paint a clearer picture of the mismanagement. I think—not being an insider on the proceedings myself—that the government utilized every single procedural mechanism not to allow a settlement to happen."

Get the Story:
Gyasi Ross: GOOD DEEDS IN INDIAN COUNTRY (The Thing About Skins 3/31)

Related Stories:
Gyasi Ross: The politics of Native people and our hair (2/23)
Gyasi Ross: 'Behold, it's Great White Father Man!!!' (2/10)
Gyasi Ross: Making excuses won't help Native people (1/28)
Gyasi Ross: Lawyers, Haiti, Natives and learning to fish (1/15)