Expert on Native American law to speak

Elouise Cobell, a leading Native American activist, will speak at the Wake Forest University School of Law at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 4.

Cobell is the lead plaintiff in a historic 12-year-old class action lawsuit that has challenged the federal government’s acknowledged mismanagement of thousands of trust accounts the government holds for Native Americans.

Her lecture will be held in Room 1308 of the Worrell Professional Center. The public is invited.

A great granddaughter of Mountain Chief, one of the legendary Indian leaders of the West, Cobell is a member of the Blackfeet Indian Tribe of Montana and the executive director of the Native American Community Development Corp., a non-profit affiliate of Native American Bank. She also served as chairperson for the Blackfeet National Bank, the first national bank located on an Indian reservation and owned by a Native American tribe. Cobell was one of the lead organizers of the bank and was instrumental in the formation of the Blackfeet Reservation Development Fund.

Her work on the Individual Indian Monies Trust Correction and Recovery Project is well known. This is a project to reform the U.S. government’s management of Individual Indian Trust Assets. Cobell also served for 13 years as the treasurer for the Blackfeet Indian Nation in Montana.

Cobell is a recipient of the 1997 “Genius Grant” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Fellowship Program. In 2005 she received a “Cultural Freedom Fellowship” from the Lannan Foundation, an award that cited her persistence in bringing to light the government’s “more than a century of government malfeasance and dishonesty” with the Indian Trust. In 2007 she was one of 10 people given the AARP Impact Award for making the world a better place and in 2004 The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development presented her with the Jay Silverheels Achievement Award.