(U.S. Senate) – On the first day of the 114th Congress, Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines introduced a bill to grant the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Cree federal recognition.
The Little Shell Tribe, headquartered in Great Falls, has sought federal recognition for over 35 years. The State of Montana recognized the Little Shell tribe in 2000.
“Congress has a trust responsibility to our nation’s tribes, and that responsibility should extend to Montana’s Little Shell,” said Tester, ranking member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “Their federal recognition will strengthen all of Indian Country and help us live up to the promises we’ve made.”
“The federal recognition of the Little Shell Tribe is long overdue,” added Daines, who will also serve on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “I’m proud to join in this important effort to ensure the federal government provides the Little Shell people with the recognition and support they deserve.”
Under a 1978 law, the Interior Department can recognize tribes based on history, culture and science. The Interior Department last year announced that the Little Shell Tribe is eligible to be reconsidered for federal tribal recognition through the federal government’s administrative process. While the tribe awaits the administrative decision, another path for recognition comes through Congressional legislation.
In 2007, the first bill Tester introduced as a U.S. Senator was to grant the Little Shell tribe federal recognition. In 2013, Senator Daines introduced a Little Shell recognition bill as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke intends to introduce similar legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Tester and Daines’ Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Restoration Act is available online HERE.