Cobell scholarship fund now boasts nearly $20M from settlement

Elouise Cobell and Barack Obama
The late Elouise Cobell meets President Barack Obama at the White House. December 8, 2010. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

The scholarship fund envisioned by the late Elouise Cobell, who was the lead plaintiff in the landmark Indian trust fund lawsuit continues to grow.

The $3.4 billion settlement that Cobell negotiated with the Obama administration included $1.9 billion for land consolidation. The Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations pays Indian landowners for their fractionated interests, restoring the land to tribal governments.

A portion of every transaction from the program goes into the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund. The Interior Department just transferred another $2 million to the fund, which now boasts a balance of $19.5 million.

“These additional funds for the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund will help put Native youth on the path to pursuing their dreams and achieving their career goals,” Solicitor Hilary Tompkins, a member of the Navajo Nation, said in a press release. “The fund is an important tool to unlock the doors of higher education and assist the next generation of Native American leaders in gaining valuable skills for today’s competitive workforce.”

The first round of scholarships from the fund will benefit students in the fall semester. The American Indian Graduate Center plans to notify recipients by mid-August.

"AIGC is pleased to have received more than 2,700 applications as of the June 1 deadline, and we encourage all applicants to continue to send in required tribal documentation and financial needs forms by July 17 for continued eligibility,” said Joan V. Currier, AIGC's chief operating officer. “This will be a highly competitive awarding process, but we look forward to announcing the first cohort of Cobell scholars this summer.”

The settlement allows up to $60 million to be set aside for scholarships. The board of trustees that oversees the fund, however, will manage the money in order to keep the program going for a long time.

"The scholarship applications that we have already received for the coming academic year indicate that the need is enormous," said Alex Pearl, a member of the Chickasaw Nation who serves as chair of the board. "Our board continues to work on growing our fund and building the important relationship with the Cobell scholarship program administrator, the American Indian Graduate Center."

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DOI transfers another $12M from buy-back to scholarship fund (04/02)
Board still working on delivering money for Cobell scholarships (3/25)
DOI puts nearly $1M from land sales into Cobell scholarship fund (01/06)
DOI puts another $1M from lands sales into Cobell scholarships (10/01)
David Gipp from UTTC joins Cobell scholarship board of trustees (08/13)
DOI puts another $2.9M from land sales into Cobell scholarships (07/01)
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