Tester: Little Shell chairman to testify about ‘broken’ recognition process

At Tester’s invitation, tribal leader will take part in Senate hearing Wednesday

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – At the invitation of Senator Jon Tester, the leader of Montana’s Little Shell Tribe will visit Capitol Hill this week to testify about how to reform the federal government’s process for recognizing Indian tribes.

Tribal Chairman John Sinclair will discuss the controversial recognition process during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee oversight hearing scheduled for Wednesday, November 4.

Calling the federal recognition process “broken,” Tester last week sharply criticized a long-delayed announcement by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs that the Little Shell Tribe did not meet the agency’s criteria for federal recognition.

Immediately after last week’s decision, Tester and Senator Max Baucus introduced legislation to override the decision.

Tester, a member of the Indian Affairs Committee, then invited Sinclair to the Senate to discuss reforming the federal recognition process.

“The Little Shell Tribe has worked hard for generations to be recognized by the federal government,” Sinclair said.  “After decades of delays, it’s clear the recognition process needs to be reformed, and we appreciate Jon tackling this issue in the Senate.”

“The system we have in place now doesn’t work, and it’s hurting too many Americans who have fought too hard for the recognition they deserve,” Tester said.  “Fixing the system will take working together and opening the lines of communication—and we’ll do just that during Wednesday’s hearing.”

The Little Shell Tribe is made up of approximately 4,300 members, most of whom live in the Great Falls area.  The State of Montana recognized the tribe in 2000.  Montana’s congressional delegation supports recognition, as do all other Montana tribes.