(U.S. Senate)—Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines kicked off the 115th Congress by introducing bipartisan legislation to grant the Little Shell Tribe of the Chippewa Cree federal recognition.
The Little Shell Tribe has sought federal recognition for nearly four decades, and has been recognized by the State of Montana since 2000.
“The federal government can’t fulfill its trust responsibility to Montana’s Little Shell Tribe until it recognizes their sovereignty,” Tester said. “These folks have been waiting long enough for what they deserve, and we won’t stop fighting until we get this bill across the finish line.”
“The Little Shell Tribe has waited far too long and jumped through too many bureaucratic hoops to secure federal recognition,” Daines stated. “It’s time this injustice is corrected. It’s time to do what is right and give the Little Shell Tribe the recognition they greatly deserve.”
Native American Tribes must be recognized as sovereign nations by the federal government to exercise full self-governance. Under this nation-to-nation relationship Tribes access critical economic development, health care and education resources, and regulate affairs on tribal lands on terms socially and culturally appropriate.
Tribes can be recognized by the federal government through Congressional legislation, or an administrative process through the U.S. Interior Department.
Tester and Daines ushered the Little Shell Tribe federal recognition bill through the Senate Indian Affairs Committee last Congress, but it did not receive a vote on the Senate floor.
The Little Shell Tribe is headquartered in Great Falls and has over 4,500 members across Montana.