Dartmouth 2011 Honorary Degree Recipient: Elouise Cobell (Doctor of Humane Letters)


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Native American leader and activist

A great granddaughter of Mountain Chief, one of the legendary Indian leaders of the West, Elouise Cobell is executive director of the Native American Community Development Corp., a nonprofit affiliate of Native American Bank. Her work on the Individual Indian Monies Trust Correction and Recovery Project, a project to reform the U.S. Government’s management of Individual Indian Trust Assets, has won admiration by many.

She is a recipient of a 1997 “Genius Grant” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Fellows Program. In 2005, she received a Cultural Freedom Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation, an award that cited her persistence in bringing to light the “more than a century of government malfeasance and dishonesty” with the Indian Trust. Two years later, she was one of 10 people given an AARP Impact Award (for making the world a better place), and in 2004 the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development presented her with the Jay Silverheels Achievement Award.

Cobell’s professional and civic experience and expertise includes serving as co-chair of Native American Bank NA and as a former trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian, as well as service on other boards. She served for 13 years as treasurer for the Blackfeet Indian Nation in Montana.

With her husband she operates a working ranch that produces cattle and crops, and she is active in local agriculture and environmental issues, founding the first Land Trust in Indian Country. She also served as a trustee for the Nature Conservancy of Montana.

Cobell graduated from Great Falls Business College and attended Montana State University, from which she also received an honorary doctorate. She also has an honorary degree from Rollins College. Her professional background is in accounting and community development. She received the 2002 International Women’s Forum award for “Women Who Make a Difference,” in Mexico City. She is a member of the Blackfeet Indian Tribe of Montana.

Cobell was the keynote speaker at the 2010 Tuck Native American Leadership and Economic Development Conference.

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Susan J. Boutwell