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.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

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

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


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