Montana’s Little Shell closer than ever to federal recognition

Montana’s Little Shell Band of Chippewa Cree Indians inched closer to federal recognition Thursday, with the Senate approval.

With Thursday afternoon’s Senate vote, the Little Shell are closer to recognition than the tribe has ever been, said Montana’s U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines. House action is still needed, but representatives have twice in less than a year supported recognizing the Little Shell. Montana’s delegation assumes the House’s past support means it will do so again now that the Senate is on board.

“It was 84 years ago, 1934, when the Little Shell submitted application, working with BIA at the federal level, 10,000 pages of paperwork,” Daines, a Republican, said in a press conference. “Unfortunately some of these federal bureaucracies moved the goalposts in the federal recognition process of tribes. And the Little Shell have suffered because of that, and we’re finally getting it done.”