From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Blackfeet's Cobell leads fight to return funds to Indians
Tue, 13 Aug 2002 14:17:51 -0500
Aug. 13, 2002 News media contact: Kathy Gilbert7(615)742-54707Nashville,
NOTE: This report is a sidebar to UMNS story #362.
BROWNING, Mont. (UMNS) -- Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet tribe,
stands tall on the reservation because of her efforts to force the federal
government to account for billions of dollars belonging to about 500,000
American Indians and their heirs. The money has been held in trust by the
U.S. government since the late 19th century.
Her story has been profiled in many newspapers, most recently the Christian
Science Monitor and Parade magazine.
Members of the United Methodist Native American Economic Development and
Empowerment Task Force heard a report on Cobell's work during their Aug.
9-11 meeting in Browning. Cobell was unable to meet with the group because
of business related to the lawsuit.
She filed the lawsuit Cobell v. Norton in 1996, when she was treasurer of
the Blackfeet nation. As a little girl, she had heard her relatives complain
about the Indian trust accounts.
The lawsuit is aimed at forcing the government to account for the money and
to reform the system. The United States has no accurate records for hundreds
of thousands of Indian beneficiaries nor billions of dollars owed them,
Cobell has charged. An online site dedicated to the case,
www.indiantrust.com, cites testimony to Congress by Department of the
Interior officials on how the trust funds have been mismanaged.
Cobell is also director of the Native American Community Development Corp.
and the Blackfeet Reservation Development Fund Inc. She was instrumental in
forming the Blackfeet National Bank, the first national bank owned by an
Indian tribe on a reservation. The bank has since become a branch of Native
American Bank, a national bank based in Denver that serves Native
# # #
United Methodist News Service
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