BROWNING — Elouise Cobell has left the building.
Cobell met many important people in her 65 years, presidents and movie stars, members of Congress and, of course, the Native American elders on whose behalf she successfully stared down the U.S. government.
At her viewing Friday evening, people talked of her courage and her strength. And also of her one major weakness — for The King.
After all, she had to resign as president of Montana’s Elvis Presley fan club in order to focus on her landmark lawsuit seeking redress for the billions of dollars owed Native Americans for the use of their land, said her niece, Janice Coburn.
Cobell remained, however, Browning’s best-known fan.
When her cortege rolled through town Friday afternoon, all the car radios were tuned to Browning’s KBWG, which played Elvis songs in her honor. The motorcade, passing streets lined with people honoring Cobell, “was one of the proudest days of my life,” said her son Turk.
At the viewing in the Browning High School gym, a pair of life-size Elvis cutouts stood against the rear wall. His voice poured like syrup from the speakers. A photo of Cobell and her family at Graceland flashed occasionally in the rotating display on a big screen overhead. The buffet in the lobby featured a giant cake from Teeples IGA, decorated with the words “In Loving Memory of Elouise Cobell” — and a picture of Elvis.
And in her casket, along with her blue-and-white rosary, a braid of sweetgrass and a pair of tiny moccasins, was an Elvis doll in its box.