Blackfeet Community Remembers 'Fearless
Female Warrior' Elouise Cobell

By KFBB News Team
October 18, 2011

Cancer has claimed the life of Elouise Cobell, who challenged the U.S. government's handling of Native American trust accounts. Her diagnosis and death came within months of the settlement.

A Blackfeet woman who led a 15-year legal battle over the mismanagement of Indian land royalties has died.

Elouise Cobell passed away last night at a Great Falls hospital. She had been fighting cancer.

Today, Blackfeet residents spoke of her legacy.

"This little 5'5 woman took on the United States government," said Lynda Beaudry, a 30-year friend of Elouise Cobell. "How many of us would do that?"

Not too many, but Elouise Cobell was different. Born on the Blackfeet Reservation on Nov. 5, 1945, she was descendent of tribal leadership and considered a warrior and considered a warrior of the Blackfeet Nation.

"Yellow Bird Woman, Elouise Cobell," said her cousin Darrell Kipp.

Residents on the Blackfeet Reservation will remember Cobell's humility, her vigor and the intensity of her dreams.

"We used to tease her, we'd make jokes because every time somebody tries to change the government, do you ever notice that they disappear?" said her nephew Jay Dustybull. "They end up dead or something. I used to tease her 'You better get a watchdog at your house'."

"And because she loved her people and not just the Blackfeet, she fought for all natives," said Beaudry.

"Her spirit of giving and advocacy has done so much for Native America and the country in general," Kipp said.

Cobell leaves behind a legacy that has not only changed the lives around her, but one that can spur change in generations to come.

"Here Elouise was an icon to many young women and young men," Dustybull said. "She never gave up. Cobel, one of eight children is survived by her husband and son.

Although this is a day of mourning, members of the tribe say they believe Cobell fulfilled the creator's purpose for her on this earth and now she rests in a better place.