Tuesday, 1 November 2011

RIP Elouise Cobell

For 14 years Elouise Cobell fought a legal battle to recover billions of dollars that had been systematically plundered from Native Americans by the US government.

During the action it emerged that the government's Bureau of Indian Affairs had, over the previous 100 years, sold off Indian land to farmers and prospectors but failed to pass the money on.

A qualified accountant, Yellow Bird Woman, as Cobell was known in her native Blackfoot nation, raised the huge sums of money necessary to fight the case.

Along the way she encountered opposition from the various US administrations she had to tackle but eventually, on the election of Barack Obama, the government paid out more than $3bn (£1.9bn) in what became the largest class action in US history. The sum was a lot less than the $27bn (£16.9bn) Cobell estimated had been stolen from Native Americans over the century.

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