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Elouise Cobell

Elouise Cobell was a member of the Blackfeet Indian Tribe of Montana and the great-granddaughter of Mountain Chief, one of the legendary Blackfeet leaders of the West. As Treasurer of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana, she established the Blackfeet National Bank, the first national bank to be located on an Indian reservation and to be owned by a Native American tribe. She served on the Board of the Native American Bank and First Interstate Bank. She graduated from Great Falls Business College and attended Montana State University. Serving as Treasurer of the Blackfeet Tribe for more than a decade, Cobell discovered many irregularities in the management of funds held in trust by the United States for the tribe and for individual Indians. Along with the Intertribal Monitoring Association (which she served as President), Cobell attempted to seek reform in Washington, DC from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. Cobell was instrumental in bringing a class-action suit forcing reform and an accounting of the trust funds belonging to individual Indians. As of July 2011, notices have gone out to the hundreds of thousands of individual Native Americans affected. Cobell died at the age of 65 on October 16, 2011, in Great Falls, Montana after a brief battle with cancer.