Elouise Cobell

Known as “Yellow Bird Woman,” Elouise Cobell was an entrepreneur, banker, advocate, and member of the Blackfeet Nation who fought tirelessly for government accountability and for Native Americans to have control over their own financial future.

Cobell was born on November 5,1945 on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. When she was four, her father successfully had a one-room schoolhouse built on the reservation. She attended that school through high school.

After studying accounting at Great Falls Commercial College, Cobell attended Montana State University to study business, eventually becoming the Treasurer for the Blackfeet Nation.

While serving as Treasurer, Cobell confronted government officials about missing funds from the trust accounts of individual tribal members on the reservation. Years later, in 1996, Cobell filed a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of the Treasury for the mismanagement the Indian Trust—one of the largest class-action lawsuits ever filed against the U.S. government.

A decorated activist, Cobell received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, MacArthur Genius Award, and was awarded honorary doctorates from Montana State University and Dartmouth College. In 2000, the Blackfeet Nation honored her with warrior status.

Year Honored: 2024
Birth: 1945 - 2011
Born In: Montana
Achievements: Business
Schools Attended: Montana State University