Senate Approves Federal Recognition of Little Shell Tribe After Years-Long Push by Daines & Tester

(U.S. Senate) – The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians is one step closer to achieving federal recognition today, thanks to a legislative push by U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester. The Senators’ legislation passed today as a Daines amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act—the Senate’s must-pass annual defense bill.

“Today is a historic day for Montana’s Little Shell Tribe,” Daines said. “For the first time in history, our bill to federally recognize the Tribe passed the Senate. This is a major milestone for the Little Shell Tribe, and I’ll continue pushing until we get this done once and for all.”

“This is a big day: after more than 12 years, our legislation to federally recognize the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians has finally passed the United States Senate,” Tester said. “This bill will help correct a historical injustice perpetrated against the Little Shell Tribe, who have fought for generations to be recognized. It was the very first bill I introduced when I got to the Senate in 2007 and it’s time the federal government acknowledge what the tribes of Montana, the state of Montana, and most importantly, the Little Shell members themselves know to be true.”

The Little Shell Tribe has sought federal recognition for more than a century, and has been recognized by the State of Montana since 2000. Daines has been consistently fighting for federal recognition of the Little Shell Tribe since he joined the U.S. Senate in 2015.

“This is a big step forward for the Little Shell Tribe and we are closer to federal recognition than ever before,” said Chairman Gerald Gray. “I want to thank Senator Tester for his tireless work over the past 12 years and Senator Daines for helping secure Senate passage of this landmark legislation.”

As Chairman of the Senate Western Caucus, Daines made it his priority to get Little Shell passed.  

In the 115th Congress, Daines led the charge reintroducing the Little Shell recognition legislation along with Tester and when the effort felt short at the end of the congressional term, Daines didn’t give up.

In the 116th Congress, Daines advanced the Little Shell recognition further than ever before when he successfully introduced an amendment to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act, cosponsored by Tester, to recognize the Little Shell Tribe.

Tester has introduced legislation every Congress since 2007.