I started Heart Berry with my Cobell check. In 2014, $800 was a tank of propane for the winter. But I wanted Elouise's work, her struggle, and the fights over land to mean something for my family. We can make lemonade and we can make Cobell Berry Lemonade.
Elouise Cobell spent her life fighting over stolen land, land rights, and the agreements made by the federal government with tribes and their broken trusts. After a lifetime of lawsuits, former land holders were paid out in waves, mine coming in 2014.
I took that $800 and rolled it back into Heart Berry once, twice, and at this point 1000 times in a thousand ways. I never borrowed money or went into debt for my business. I have grown this idea slowly with my children in tow for 7 years with the mentorship of Louie Gong and support of my community. I take small, what feels like excruciating steps to keep going forward. There is nothing smooth about this path, we are building a way into economic sovereignty for our families. This takes struggle.
This fall, my family bought LAND BACK in my homelands here in what is now known as Northern Minnesota. Land that was illegally taken by tax levy in 1921 from one Joseph Bapio. One hundred years after this loss we can now care for this piece of land. Funded by my Cobell check. Rolled back in, in a thousand ways, over and over. An investment in my family, my descendants, and a dedication to Elouise. Miigwech to her and all of the warriors who stand up, tear down, analyze, and build paths toward the future.
I will sit and drink this Berry Lemonade and think of you Elouise.
~Sarah Agaton Howes, HB CEO and Artist
For more information about the Cobell case