Tester Slams Partisan Blockade on Little Shell Recognition Act

Senator: One Person is Preventing the Little Shell from Being Federally Recognized

(Big Sandy, Mont.)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester today slammed a partisan blockade that is preventing the Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians from receiving their federal recognition.

Tester’s legislation to federally recognize the Little Shell was set to pass the Senate, until Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) blocked the bill from receiving a Senate vote. Tester is demanding that Lee lift his objection and provide the Little Shell access to their homeland and resources they rightfully deserve.

“The Little Shell have fought for generations to secure what is rightfully theirs,” Tester said. “Now just one man stands in the way and it is time for him and his political party to quit the political shenanigans and allow this long-overdue vote to take place.”

Tester first introduced legislation to federally recognize the Little Shell Tribe in 2007. It was the first bill he ever introduced as a United States Senator.

Tester passed his bipartisan bill to grant the Little Shell federal recognition out of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in May of 2017.

Native American Tribes must be formally recognized as sovereign nations by the federal government to exercise full self-governance. Under this nation-to-nation relationship, Tribes access critical economic development, health care and education resources, and regulate affairs on tribal lands on terms socially and culturally appropriate. The Little Shell Tribe is currently recognized by the State of Montana only.

Tribes can be recognized by the federal government through Congressional legislation, a U.S. Court decision, or an administrative process through the U.S. Interior Department.