Addressing Over a Century of Shame: The Cobell v. Norton Case
Elouise Cobell, Native American Community Development Corporation, Executive Director and Lead Plaintiff in Cobell v. Norton
Tex G. Hall, Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation, Chairman and Trust Reform and Cobell Settlement Workgroup, Co-Chairman
Keith Harper, Native American Rights Fund, Staff Attorney and Counsel for the Plaintiff Class in Cobell v. Norton
Senator Tom Daschle, Center for American Progress, Distinguished Senior Fellow
The government is trustee for over 10 million acres of land owned by individual Indian trust beneficiaries. In 1887, through the General Allotment Act, the government created this Trust and imposed it on Indian communities without their consent. Before the Act, virtually all Indian lands were held in common, owned by the Tribe. The stated purpose of Allotment was, as one recent Secretary of Interior put it, an attempt to “destroy tribal existence”. In truth, it was also yet another means to alienate Indian lands by government fiat. In 1996, Elouise Cobell and a class of 500,000 individual Indians sued the Secretary of Interior and Secretary of Treasury, in Cobell v. Norton, to address this national disgrace, and to seek from the government accountability from the trustees. The litigation has dragged on for ten years, despite prevailing on all significant merit based issues. House and Senate leaders have introduced a bill to settle Cobell. This event will highlight the trial experience of the plaintiff and how the mismanagement of the Trust by the government has affected hundreds and thousands of Native American Indians.
Note: All video provided in QuickTime (MPEG-4) format.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Program: 3:45 P.M. – 4:45 P.M.
Admission is free.
Center for American Progress
1333 H Street NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
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Elouise Cobell is the Executive Director of the Native American Community Development Corporation a non profits affiliate of Native American Bank. Ms. Cobell’s professional, civic experience and expertise includes serving as a Board Member for the Tides Foundation, the Northwest Area Foundation, First Interstate Bank, the Montana Community Foundation, a Trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian, as well as a member of other boards. Ms. Cobell served for thirteen years as the Treasurer for the Blackfeet Indian Nation in Montana. In addition to operating a working ranch with her husband, which produces cattle and crops, she is active in local agriculture and environmental issues, founding the first Land Trust in Indian Country and serves as a Trustee for the Nature Conservancy of Montana. Ms. Cobell is a graduate of Great Falls Business College and attended Montana State University where she recently received an Honorary Doctorate Degree. Ms. Cobell received the 2002 International Women’s Forum award for “Women Who Make a Difference.” She is a member of the Blackfeet Indian Tribe of Montana.
Tex G. Hall, “Ihbudah Hishi” (“Red Tipped Arrow”), grew up in the heart of the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation in North Dakota. Tex was elected Chairman of his tribe in November 1998 and was overwhelmingly re-elected Chairman for a second term – the first time that has ever happened in the MHA Nation, in 2002. After earning his master’s degree in education, Chairman Hall served as school principal superintendent at the Mandaree School on his reservation. In 1995 he was named North Dakota Indian Educator of the Year. In 2002, Chairman Hall received the University of Mary Leadership Award, his college’s highest award of distinction, for his dedication to education. Tex was elected president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) in 2001, and served two consecutive terms as President from 2001 to 2005. While NCAI President, Tex led the fight for the protection of Tribal Sovereignty and became the most active voice for Tribal rights in Washington, DC, where he has testified a record 60 times in front of Congress. In other leadership roles, Chairman Hall serves as the Chairman of the Inter-Tribal Economic Alliance, which he founded, Chairman of the Native American Bank Corporation, Co-Chairman of the BIA – Tribal Budget Advisory Committee, Chairman of the Great Plans/North Dakota Indian Gaming Association, Chairman of t he Board of the United Tribes Technical College, President of the Native American Basketball Invitational, and National Public Relations Chair of the National Indian Gaming Association.
Keith Harper is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and received a B.A. in Sociology and Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley and a J.D. from New York University School of Law. While at NYU, he was a Root-Tilden-Snow Scholar, a Fellow at the Center for International Studies, a Graduate & Professional Opportunity Fellow and Articles & Notes Editor for the Journal of International Law & Politics. Following law school, Keith became an associate at Davis, Polk & Wardwell and then served as law clerk to the Honorable Lawrence W. Pierce of the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit for the customary one year term. Thereafter, Keith was granted a Skadden Arps Fellowship to join the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), where he remains a staff attorney today. Among other cases, Keith represents 500,000 individual Indians in a multi-billion dollar suit against the United States for the governments’ failure to properly manage these individual Indians’ trust assets. Keith has served as an Appellate Court Judge for t he Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation since January 2001. He also formerly served as President of the Native American Bar Association of Washington, D.C. In 2002, Keith was awarded a Next Generation Leadership Fellowship by the Rockefeller Foundation. As an adjunct professor, Keith taught Federal Indian Law at Catholic University Columbus School of Law and American University Washington College of Law from 1999-2002.
Tom Daschle is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Senator Daschle’s work for the Center focuses on health care policy and global economic, security and health issues. Senator Daschle is also a member of the Global Alliances’ steering committee, an international coalition of progressive leaders dedicated to the development and exchange of progressive policy ideas. In addition to his work at the Center, Senator Daschle is also a visiting professor at the Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute, conducting student seminars, guest lectures in classrooms, and holding public discussions related to politics and policymaking. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978, Tom Daschle served there until 1986 when he was elected to the U.S. Senate from South Dakota. He became Minority Leader of the Senate in 1994 and Majority Leader in 2001. He was the second longest serving Democratic leader in history. Daschle now serves as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Washington office of the law firm Alston and Bird. Senator Daschle attended South Dakota State University and graduated in 1969. He served for three years as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force Strategic Command.