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My Reflection on Elouise Cobell

~ Daniella James

Elouise Cobell fought for missing Native

American monies for fifteen years. She

won the largest Native American financial

case with a settlement of $3.4 billion

American dollars. Yet, the true accurate

financial estimate of the missing money

of her tribe stands firm at the evaluation

of $40 billion American dollars. I will

repeat, for her tribe alone, $40 billion American dollars were missing. The American government fought her with everything they could. She never gave up despite many obstacles, includes obstacles from her own tribe. In the long run, she fought for all Native Americans. She was battling cancer for many years while battling the American government.  She was a full time mother, wife, and rancher. She was a part-time book keeper for her tribe. She had only an associate’s degree while going through the vigorous process in the American courts. As I read the life’s work of Elouise Cobell, I am drawn to be like her with characteristics of endurance, patience, drive, persistence, intelligence, creativity, and strength. I am in awe she accomplished so much while feeling ill, and even continuously helping others in physical ways such as donating one of her kidneys to her husband. In the readings, I noticed she had the opportunity to simply enjoy her family ranch. She absolutely chose the path to assist Native Americans. I am drawn to this. As a career path, I feel called to share the best gifts of life such as having water, home grown food, and continuous safe home environments. With reading the Cobell v. Salazar Settlement, I feel thankful. Every day when I read and learn, I pause to reflect on the Native Americans who have fought for measures before me. While reading the documents, I skimmed other websites rapidly to get additional tangents of her life and works. I rushed to learn more for this is exciting to feel such connection.

After a few hours of reading, I took a break to physically and mentally stretch. I recall the vivid quote on Elouise Cobell’s computer after her passing, “First they ignore you, Then they laugh at you, Then they fight you, Then you win.” When I first read this, flowing colorful tears quickly escaped away from my body. I felt as if all the ancestors are hearing me learn. I felt not alone on this journey. I feel proud of Elouise Cobell. I feel drawn to assist existing programs and to learn from others before me so that I may too one day be a guided higher leader.

I get to learn accurate history from my ancestral tribal perspective. I now get to travel across the United States on my own educational terms to learn of Native American food history, current situations, and possible future plans. I have found some resources and I am not letting them go. I enjoy sharing resources of empowerment, such as Whisper n Thunder. I will assist for the sustainability and expansion of Native American non-profits and for-profit organizations. My Native family has given me cautionary warning with this pursuit, as it is new to them. I understand they have good context. I grew away from the reservation. I see life differently, for I mentally practiced how to. I am trying to draw my Native community to explore the fascinating stories of food, history, preservation, technology, language,
science, astronomy, and much more. The story of Eloise Cobell contributes to my daily motivation. I am getting the education my ancestors never got. You can too. Learning never stops.

To read more on Eloise Cobell, please feel free to start at this website of