Governor Steve Bullock issued a proclamation today, declaring November 5 as Elouise Cobell Day. Director of Indian Affairs Jason Smith said Bullock was joined by members of the Cobell family, Superintendent Denise Juneau and Senator Lea Whitford.

"Miss Elouise Cobell, in her own character, her value, and her actions, had really done a lot of good things as being an Indian leader in Indian country, but [also] beyond Indian country," Smith said. "Governor Bullock really is recognizing that value. So, that's an important day for her and for Indian people."

Smith said Cobell served as the treasurer of the Blackfeet Tribe for over a decade. She was also the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in 1996, known as Cobell v. Salazar, which after 14 years of litigation resulted in a 2009 settlement of $3.4 billion, approved by Congress and the President in 2010 to provide payment to those whose property had been held in trust.

"I hope this day continues for many years...For 20 or even 30 years," Smith said. "I hope that every year gets better as we celebrate and recognize her on this day."

Smith said the proclamation came after the 2015 Legislature failed to pass a bill sponsored by Sen. Whitford that would have named the day in honor of Cobell.

November 5 also happens to be Cobell's birthday.