Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada, announced on Friday he is co-sponsoring legislation to award Elouise Cobell the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor Congress can bestow upon a civilian, for her perseverance in her pursuit of justice for American Indians.
In 1996, Cobell filed an historic lawsuit against the federal government seeking justice for the government's mismanagement of 500,000 Individual Indian Trust accounts.
"Elouise Cobell's hard work has immeasurably improved the lives of many American Indians, including thousands living in Nevada," Reid said. "I'm honored to recommend her for the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of her outstanding and enduring contributions and her tireless pursuit of justice." Some 2,700 American Indians in Nevada can benefit from the settlement.
Cobell, a citizen of the Blackfeet Nation, is being recognized for 'her outstanding and enduring contributions to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and the Nation through her tireless pursuit of justice.'
While treasurer of the Blackfeet Tribe in the 1980s, Cobell discovered many irregularities in the handling of funds that were held in trust by the United States on behalf of the Blackfeet and individual Indians. Before filing her lawsuit in 1996, she sought reform in Washington from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s without success.
For many years, Cobell led the charge against government mismanagement and displayed unyielding perseverance in her pursuit of justice for this Nation's most vulnerable population. After a more than 15 year battle, Congress and the President approved a settlement of the suit in December 2010, the largest settlement with the government in American history.
Senator Jon Tester, D-Montana, is the lead sponsor of this legislation, which has seven co-sponsors, including Senator Reid.
posted September 20, 2011 6:57 am edt
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