Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Montana): Gianforte Reintroduces Legislation Recognizing Little Shell, Urges House to Pass Bill Again

Little Shell Chippewa Tribe seeks another shot at federal recognition

Montana's Congressional delegation is once again seeking federal recognition for the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians, whose status has been in limbo for more than a century.

Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Montana) introduced H.R.297, the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Restoration Act, in the House on January 9. Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana) did the same with S.51 in the Senate.

“I appreciate Congressman Gianforte’s steadfast determination to see justice served for the Little Shell Tribe. He is a true friend to my people,” Chairman Gerald Gray said in a press release. “I am confident that his persistence will result in the long-awaited passage and enactment into law of the Little Shell Restoration Act.”

Leaders of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians came to Capitol Hill at the end of the 115th Congress to lobby for their federal recognition bill but it didn't pass. Photo: Rep. Greg Gianforte

In the last session of Congress, a stand-alone bill to recognize the tribe passed the House for the first time since lawmakers initiated the effort more than a decade ago. But the measure was blocked from moving forward in the Senate by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), according to Daines and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana).

"The Little Shell Tribe has waited far too long and jumped through too many bureaucratic hurdles to secure federal recognition. We can no longer keep kicking the can down the road," Daines said in a press release.

"The Little Shell deserve to have their sovereignty recognized," Tester said. "It's time for the federal government to do right by the Little Shell. After years of fighting, I'm hopeful we can get it done this Congress."

The tribe's status has been in limbo for more than a century following failed treaty negotiations in the late 1800s. An attempt to gain recognition through the Bureau of Indian Affairs has been marked by uncertainty through three presidential administrations, Republican and Democrat.

The tribe's pending federal recognition petition, which is being reconsidered by the BIA, was one of the reasons why Lee blocked the bill, according to Daines and Tester.

Every other Indian nation in Montana supports the tribe.

Read More on the Story
Little Shell bill reintroduced by Gianforte in House, Tester, Daines in Senate (The Great Falls Tribune January 9, 2019)
Little Shell Restoration Act reintroduced in both U.S. House and Senate (KRTV January 9, 2019)
Gianforte reintroduces bill for Little Shell recognition (KFBB/KHBB January 9, 2019)
Lawmakers Start Fresh On Little Shell Bill (The Havre Herald January 10, 2019)
Montana delegation still fighting for federal recognition of Little Shell Indians (The Billings Gazette January 10, 2019)

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