In this 2005 Mother Jones article by Julia Whitty, we meet Blackfeet Nation banker Elouise Pepion Cobell, who has made it her mission in life to recover the $176 billion of Indian trust fund money lost, looted, and mismanaged by the U.S. government. 40 years into her battle with the Department of Interior, this great-granddaughter of the legendary Blackfeet warrior Mountain Chief, is closing in on what federal judge Lamberth termed, "an utterly depraved bureaucracy withholding payments from people struggling to survive."
The Blackfeet, a quarter of whom died in the 1883 Winter of Starvation and were buried in mass graves by U.S. soldiers, have endured much. As Elouise Cobell put it, "I'm fighting for them, fighting the same government that tried to get rid of this entire race of people."
Today, as Congress and the White House try to weasel out of this obligation, claiming the United States of America cannot afford to pay the money back, we are heartened that Ms. Cobell is still on the warpath. As she notes, "It's not your money and never was."