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Celebrating Blackfeet hero and justice seeker

Elouise Cobell

 

 

New film recognizes work of American legend and longtime friend of VISIONS

Elouise Cobell

 

New film recognizes work of American legend and longtime friend of VISIONS
When you hear about Blackfeet elder Elouise Cobell and her David-and-Goliath fight against the U.S. government, your first thought might be: Wow, her story would make a great movie. And it does. The documentary 100 Years follows the former tribal treasurer from her suspicion of government malfeasance in handling tribal lands and revenues to suing on behalf of hundreds of thousands of American Indians. It took 15 years, but in 2009, the case settled for more than $3 billion.

Last spring, 100 Years debuted on PBS and it’s now available on Netflix. Watch it, and you’ll appreciate why we’ve been honored over the years to have known and worked with Elouise. She visited every summer with VISIONS participants and taught us some of the important history lessons related to the case.

Years ago, Elouise humbled us with the invitation to live at the Flat Iron Ranch, the first piece of important ecological land set aside as a conservation easement with the newly-formed Blackfeet Land Trust. She was instrumental in starting the Land Trust, which was a joint project with the Nature Conservancy. Every year we return to the ranch, which is home base for the VISIONS Blackfeet program. Over the years as summer caretakers, VISIONS teens have renovated buildings, fixed fences, cleared out invasive plants and more.

Though she died in 2011, Elouise is still alive among the Blackfeet and very much a part of our program experience. Her brother Dale Pepion was the ranch manager and dear friend of the program until his passing this year. Her sister-in-law Eva helps us coordinate projects. Her sister Jolene invites us to be guest deejays on a local radio station and speaks to us about Elouise’s work and legacy.

In 2013, the Flat Iron Ranch was dedicated to Elouise’s memory and renamed the Yellow Bird Woman Sanctuary in honor of her Blackfeet name.

Elouise Cobell

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