Courtesy Fire in the Belly Productions
Elouise Cobell with President Barack Obama, who on November 16 announced her as one of 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Elouise Cobell to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom


Blackfeet tribal community leader Elouise Cobell was announced today as one of 21 recipients who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

The medal is presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, or to the cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honor—it’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better,” President Barack Obama said. “From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way.”

Cobell was an advocate for Native American self-determination and financial independence. She utilized her expertise to champion a lawsuit that resulted in a historic $3.4 billion settlement.

“Cobell helped found the Native American Bank, served as director of the Native American Community Development Corporation, and inspired Native American women to seek leadership roles in their communities,” the White House announcement states.

The awards will be presented at the White House on November 22 and the event will be livestreamed at

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