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College Fund Named to Administer Education Endowment as Part of Cobell v. Salazar Settlement

March 12, 2013

The American Indian College Fund was named by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the plaintiffs of Cobell v. Salazar to administer the Indian Education Scholarship Holding Fund settlement for post-secondary vocational and higher education. The $60 million holding fund was designated as part of the $3.4 billion Cobell settlement through the vision and leadership of the late lead plaintiff, Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, who initiated the class action lawsuit in 1996 on behalf of American Indians whose trust land funds had been mismanaged by the federal government for decades. Before her passing, Cobell said the set-aside of funds from the settlement for a higher education would “mean a great deal… to the Indian youth whose dreams for a better life including the possibility of one day attending college can now be realized.”

The U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the Indian Education Scholarship Holding Fund would allow the nation “to move forward and address the educational, law enforcement, and economic development challenges we face in Indian Country.”

Dr. Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, said, “We are honored by the confidence the government and plaintiffs have demonstrated in us. They have confirmed what our supporters know: The American Indian College Fund has a proven history of 24 years of leadership and fiscal responsibility. We are rooted in advancing educational and vocational scholarships for Native peoples while maintaining strong relationships with Native communities. American Indian and Alaska Native people will be proud that the Fund, with its strong legacy in Indian Country, was selected. I would like to recognize the contributions of Richard Williams, former President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund now serving as Senior Advisor, who proposed to the late Elouise Cobell the establishment of a separate education fund for scholarships. Together their strong vision will improve the future for young Native people. We look forward to working with the special trustees of the Indian Education Scholarship Holding Fund to discuss how we will implement and raise additional funding to improve access to education for all Indian people, regardless of financial circumstance, transforming Indian Country.”

As part of the agreement, 20% of scholarship monies will be distributed to the American Indian Graduate Center of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mr. Sam Deloria, the Center’s Executive Director, said, “The American Indian Graduate Center is happy to congratulate the American Indian College Fund and knows it will do a great job as it has done over the years. We extend our offer of cooperation and support and look forward to working with the Fund.”

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