MacArthur Fellows Program

Elouise C. Cobell

Banker | Class of 1997

Browning, Montana
52 at time of award
October 16, 2011
Published July 1, 1997

About Elouise's Work

Elouise Cobell is an advocate for Native American financial self-determination and independence.

Cobell organized and chartered the Blackfeet National Bank, the only tribal-owned bank in the nation and initiated new ways of viewing tribal trust funds and their management.  She has worked tirelessly on the issue of restoring to their owners the funds that the U.S. government has held in trust for Native American peoples for decades.  As the national spokesperson for Native American trust funds, Cobell has helped uncover longstanding abuses in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, specifically identifying several billion dollars that were supposed to go to individual Native Americans.  She was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Bureau that was filed on behalf of Native Americans, took the case through appeal, and won for the plaintiffs.


Cobell is the executive director of the Native American Community Development Corporation.  She served previously as the director of the Blackfeet National Bank, the comptroller for the Blackfeet Indian Nation, and as chair of the InterTribal Monitoring Association for Indian Trust Funds.

Cobell graduated from the Great Falls Commercial College (1963-64), and attended Montana State University (1966-68), the U.S. Army-SACOM (1970-72), Northern Montana College (1989), and the Blackfeet Community College (1991). 

Last updated January 1, 2005

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