Tester joins Elouise Cobell to celebrate historic settlement

(BROWNING, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester and Elouise Cobell were joined today by members of the Blackfeet community to celebrate the historic settlement of Cobell v. Salazar.

The Blackfeet Tribe joined Senator Tester in hosting the community celebration at the Beaver Painted Lodge in Browning to talk about what the settlement will mean for the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. 

“Many folks thought this day would never come but Elouise Cobell persisted and now thousands of American Indians all across the country will benefit from her determination to never give up,” said Tester, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “The lesson all of us can take away from Elouise’s example is that hard work really does pay off.”

Tester also acknowledged Senator Max Baucus, who crafted the final bill, which was fully paid for, and worked hard to get it passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate last December.

“Elouise Cobell is a real life hero for thousands of folks in Indian Country an inspiration for all of us,” Baucus said.  “Thanks to her determination, thousands of folks in Indian country will finally receive justice they have been waiting for.  I won’t stop fighting for good paying-jobs and education in Indian Country.”

“This was a difficult process over the last 15 years but it was so good be able to know that I could count on Jon and Max to do their part to get the settlement through Congress,” Cobell said.  “They worked hard to educate their fellow Senators about how important this settlement is to Indian Country.  Today is a great day because we are finally fulfilling the commitment to the elderly who have waited so long.”

Cobell was the lead plaintiff in Cobell v. Salazar, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging the U.S. government had incorrectly accounted for Indian trust assets.  Congress passed legislation approving the settlement in December.