GREAT FALLS – The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday that will provide federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians.
U.S. Representative Greg Gianforte’s bill will restore recognition, allowing the tribe to purchase 200 acres of land to serve as its reservation. The legislation would make the Little Shell Tribe eligible for federal resources for economic development, healthcare, and education.
The bill summary states:
This bill extends federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana. The tribe and its members become eligible for services and benefits provided by the United States to federally recognized tribes and their members, without regard to the existence of a reservation or the location of the residence of any member.
The service area of the tribe is considered to be the area comprised of Blaine, Cascade, Glacier, and Hill Counties, Montana.
The tribe, as a condition of receiving recognition, services, and benefits, must submit to the Department of the Interior, and maintain, a membership roll.
Interior must take into trust for the benefit of the tribe 200 acres of land within the tribe’s service area to be used for a tribal land base.
This is not the first time the tribe has pushed for recognition. Dating back to the 1930s and 1940s, the tribe petitioned the federal government for a formal reservation and to be allowed to organize under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.
Gianforte introduced the bill in September of 2017.
In a press release, Gianforte said, “Today marks an important milestone for the Tribe, and I am proud that I could help move their efforts forward. It’s time to get this bill through the Senate and to President Trump.”
He continued, “The Little Shell Tribe has had to wait too long for the federal government to act toward its well-deserved recognition. I appreciate the hard work, dedication, and determination of Chairman Gray and the Little Shell people.”
The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration.
U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) said in a press release: “Today is a strong step toward recognizing the Little Shell, but time is ticking away and the tribe deserves a vote in the Senate now, with no political shenanigans, secret holds or strings attached. Federal recognition is long-overdue and I won’t stop banging on doors in Washington until this bill is on the President’s desk.”
To become a law, the bill must be passed by the Senate and sent to the President for consideration.
Little shell members-The tribe has made history today and we are now one step closer to becoming federally recognized as our house bill passed out of the chamber first time ever.Gerald