100 Years

Synopsis: "100 Years" is the David vs. Goliath story of Elouise Cobell, a petite, Native American Warrior who filed the largest class action lawsuit ever filed against the United States Government and WON a $3.4 billion settlement for 300,000 Native Americans whose mineral-rich lands were mismanaged by the Department of the Interior.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Melinda Janko
Production: Fire in the Belly Productions
  1 win.
Rotten Tomatoes:
76 min


What a glorious day

the Grandfather Spirit

and Creator of all things

has given us.

I am reminded of the stanzas

from the Navajo chant

of the Beauty Way.

"In the house of long life,

there I wander.

In the house of happiness,

there I wander.

Beauty is before me,

beauty is behind me.

Beauty is above me,

and beauty is below me.

Beauty is all around me.

With it, I wander.

In old age, traveling,

with it, I wander."

How much we can learn

from them...

and yet, with

all their collective wisdom,

could not have known

that Earth Mother would be

someday called "real estate."

[train whistle blows]

The government always wanted

the Indians

to be good little Indians

and behave

like we were children.

And they always wanted

control over us,

that they could lease

your land out to oil companies

and timber companies

and make sweetheart deals

and nobody held them


And the more that Indian people

were dependent,

the more control they had.

[man] I used to raise hell

at the B.I.A.

And one of my cousins, he said,

"You're a mad dog."

I said, "I know I'm a mad dog."

I said, "My great grandfather

was a mad dog."

We had 330 acres, my dad did.

And they all got wells on them.

Now, I'm going to show you

oil and gas payment,

uh, report.

This one here, it's ridiculous.

They're supposed to pay us

a going rate,

Indian land estate,

and what did I get?

See this column right here,

right there.

Eighty-nine bucks

over $6,000 worth of oil

taken out of there,

and I get 89 bucks.

[man] America said,

"We will manage

these lands for you,

and we will make you farmers,

and we will lease them,

and we will give you that check

as long as the grass grows,

the water flows,

and the wind blows."

They basically told

the Indian people that,

you know,

"You're all really stupid

and you can't manage

your trust,

so we will manage

your trust for you."

[speaking Navajo]

[speaking Navajo]

She says nobody's ever

approached her about that.

[dog barks]

People do not understand

what I live like.

This is what we use

to watch TV at night.

The outlet goes inside.

We hook this

to the battery right there.

I do not have electricity,

I do not have running water,

and I do not have gas.

I gotta use propane

for my gas.

See, I have a gas line going

through the land.

It would be nice if they could

just run a free gas line to me

if they're

going to use the land.

[Keith] The Navajo Reservation,

for example, they're living

on one of the largest

gas reserves,

not only in this country,

but the world.

Yet they are among the poorest

people in this country.

Abject poverty.

How can that be?

Who's getting rich?

It's not them.

[children shouting]

[Elouise] I was the treasurer

for the Blackfeet Indian Tribe

for 13 years.

And early on

is when I started recognizing

these serious problems

with the trust accounts.

I've tried for years and years,

and I couldn't get any answers,

but I just continued to beat

on all the doors,

and I remember the government

called all the treasurers

and finance officers

from every tribe

that had accounts

and brought us all

to Albuquerque.

They were telling us,

"This is the way that

we're going to be accounting

for the tribal trust accounts."

So, then, they said,

"Does anybody have

any questions?"

And I said,

"Yes, I have a question.

I... You know, I...

There's problems

with this trust account

that I don't understand."

And I told him what it was,

and the fellow

just looked at me

and said, "Well, you don't know

how to read a report."

So, I was a little embarrassed,

you know.

It was like I don't know

how to read a report.

But, after

the meeting was over,

there were several

of the tribal people

who came over

and said, "Elouise,

we're having the same problem."

And then, we banded together.

There was a small group of us.

It was the chief financial

officer from Red Lake.

It was the finance officer

from Jicarilla Apache,

and the CPA

from Turtle Mountain,

the White Mountain Apache,

their finance officer,

and it was through that process

that we were able

to get hearings

with the Congress.

We need your support

to stand up for the many


Indian beneficiaries,

like Mary Johnson,

a Navajo grandmother,

who relies almost exclusively

on a few dollars

in her allotment

to receive support

for her family.

She receives pennies

of what a non-Indian is paid

for gas from her land.

[James] The Department

of Interior is responsible

for managing

56 million acres

of individual Indian land

and tribal land,

and, on average,

about $3 billion in cash

and about a billion dollars

of throughput

from leasing activities.

[Keith] They want

to be able to dictate

what happens to Indian lands,

when to sell oil and to whom,

but they don't want

the responsibilities to ensure

that there's accountability.

I've always called it

a "trust me" trust.

They have

a self-reporting mechanism

with the Mineral

Management Service,

so oil companies

report themselves

how much they have extracted

from Indian lands.

They then pay based on how much

they say they extracted.

That's an extraordinary

situation for a trustee

not to figure out on its own

how much has been taken

from the land.

And then, I found out

from my cousin,

who worked down

in the oil fields and stuff

for the tribe.

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Melinda Janko

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "100 Years" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 30 May 2024. <https://www.scripts.com/script/100_years_1505>.

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