Betsy Marston

Betsy Marston

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Elouise Cobell Day will be celebrated on Nov. 5 in Montana, but many people in the West may not recognize her name.

They may not know the story of her almost 20-year struggle to win justice for Native Americans from the U.S. government, which for decades botched the management of natural resources owned by individual tribal members.

Yet 13 years ago, Blackfeet Tribal member and banker Elouise Cobell finally won a class-action lawsuit against the government, which settled the case by paying out $3.4 billion to Native American citizens and tribal nations.

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Betsy Marston is the editor of Writers on the Range, writersontherange.org, an independent nonprofit dedicated to spurring conversation about the West. From Montana, Anna Whiting Sorrell contributed to this opinion.

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