Elouise Cobell, champion in landmark Indian lawsuit, dies

Elouise Cobell, the Blackfeet Nation woman who led and won the largest government class action settlement in U.S. history, died Sunday.

Cobell filed a class action lawsuit against the Interior Department in 1996, claiming the government did not provide a historical account for Individual Indian Money accounts, which the government held in trust in exchange for leasing tribal land, and either mismanaged or failed to deposit the funds.

A $3.4 billion settlement in the case won final approval in June.

"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," President Obama said in a statement. "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. 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."

In addition to $1.5 billion for the tribe members affected and a $1.9 billion fund for buybacks of property and land consolidation, the law puts $60 million toward a scholarship fund for Native American students.

Interior continues to make progress on provisions of the settlement. Representatives from the department and tribal leaders from Eastern Oklahoma and the Southern Plains Region met Oct. 6 for the sixth and final regional tribal consultation meeting. The meetings, which began in July, aimed to create a strategy for land consolidation.

"I was honored to work personally with Elouise to reach a settlement that fairly and honorably resolves the long-standing Cobell litigation," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement. "For this monumental achievement, and for the attention she brought to the need for a just resolution, Elouise is a hero in every sense of the word."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.