Elouise Cobell, an enrolled member of Montana's Blackfeet Tribe who led a 16-year landmark legal fight to get the federal government to pay an estimated 500,000 Native Americans for mismanaging their trust accounts, died Sunday at Benefis Hospital in Great Falls, Mont.
A great granddaughter of Mountain Chief, one of the legendary Indian war chiefs, Elouise had been diagnosed with cancer a few weeks before her class-action lawsuit was given final approval by Judge Hogan in Washington, D.C. on June 20, 2011.
Born on the Blackfeet Reservation on Nov. 5, 1945, Ms. Cobell was one of eight children. Her survivors include: her husband, Alvin Cobell of Blacktail, Mont., a son, Turk Cobell and his wife, Bobbie, of Las Vegas, two grandchildren, Olivia, and Gabriella, a brother, Dale Pepion of Browning, Mont., and three sisters, Julene Kennerly of Browning, Mont., Joy Ketah of Seattle and Karen Powell of Browning, Mont.
Ms. Cobell will be remembered as an extraordinary person as well as a warrior and uncommon leader.
Ms. Cobell drew the line in the sand and told the government "no longer, no further, and no more."
Against seemingly insurmountable odds, Ms. Cobell never backed down in her selfless fight for justice for the most vulnerable people in this country and concluded this long-running case for the largest settlement involving the government in American history. A true hero is gone today and everyone should be thankful for her sacrifice and enduring spirit. We may never see the likes of her again. And, while Elouise did not live to see the fruits of her labor, she saw over the horizon to a better world for all individual Indians.
Condolences and remembrances may be sent via email to InRemembranceofElouise@gcginc.com.
The Cobell Litigation Team
Comment: May the soul of Elouise Cobell rest in peace among the ancestors until that day. And may her struggle for justice for the Blackfeet Tribe continue.
See more on her struggle for justice here.