Daines, Tester push Little Shell Recognition Bill through committee

Senate Indian Affairs Committee passes legislation to federally recognize Little Shell

(U.S. SENATE) — Montana Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester today helped advance their bill to grant federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians out of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

The Little Shell Tribe, headquartered in Great Falls, was recognized by the State of Montana in 2000, but has sought federal recognition for over 35 years.  Both Tester and Daines applauded this important first step in getting the tribe federally recognized.

“For far too long, the Little Shell Tribe has jumped through bureaucratic hoops and compiled stacks of paperwork in their efforts to secure federal recognition. It’s long past time that this injustice is reconciled,” stated Daines, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Restoration Act will ensure that the Little Shell Tribe receives the federal recognition it deserves.”

“The Little Shell Tribe has waited long enough to be recognized.  It’s time the feds acknowledge what the tribes of Montana, the state of Montana, and most importantly, what the Little Shell members themselves know to be true,” said Tester, Vice Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee.  “This bill will help correct a historical injustice perpetrated against the Little Shell Tribe and grant their long awaited federal recognition.”

There are two paths toward recognition for the Little Shell.

First, the Interior Department has the power to recognize tribes based on history, culture, and science.  Last year, the Interior Department announced that the Little Shell Tribe is eligible to be reconsidered for federal recognition through the administrative process. They had previously been granted an initial positive determination, but that was reversed in 2009 for unknown reasons. The Tribe is currently appealing that final decision.

Additionally, Tester and Daines are pushing for recognition through Congressional legislation while the tribe awaits decisions on their administrative appeal.

Tester first introduced legislation granting the Little Shell Tribe federal recognition in 2007 and Daines introduced a Little Shell Tribe recognition bill as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013.