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 Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


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