MTPR

Elouise Cobell

Deadline Near For Tribal Members To Claim Settlement Money

Oct 27, 2017
Sign saying "Welcome to Blackfeet Indian Country."
Will Marlow (CC-BY-NC-2)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — American Indian tribal members and their descendants have until Nov. 27 to ask for their share of the remainder of $3.4 billion in settlement money awarded to Native Americans after a major class-action lawsuit against the federal government.

The Cobell v. Salazar case began in 1996 when Blackfeet Nation banker Eloise Cobell claimed the Bureau of Indian Affairs had been mismanaging, squandering and stealing billions of dollars in land-lease royalties and other tribal property for a century, The Billing Gazette reported.

When the Blackfeet Tribe learned its tribal members were about to start receiving payouts from a massive federal court settlement, the tribe wanted to get ahead of some of the problems that can arise when a lot of money floods a cash-based society.

"There was about 150 some million dollars that was injected into this economy here," says Mark Magee, the Blackfeet Tribe’s land department director.

From Ruth Garfield, a female sheriff in 1920, to Elouise Cobell, a Blackfeet banker in the 21st Century, women have significantly shaped the state and communities across Montana. Beyond Schoolmarms and Madams celebrates the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in Montana, six years before the 19th Amendment. Two of the authors, Annie Hanshew and Laura Ferguson, discuss how the Montana Historical Society selected the collection of women's stories.

A memorial honoring Eloise Cobell displayed at the University of Montana's Eloise Cobell Land and Culture Institute.
Cole Grant

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Blackfeet woman who led a 15-year legal fight against the federal government over mismanagement of Indian trust funds will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation's highest civilian honor.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.
(PD)

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell visited Montana this week. She promised to change the future of the federal government’s relationship with Indian country.

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