Tester, Daines Reintroduce Bill Recognizing Little Shell

Senators Pushing for Federal Recognition of Montana Tribe

(U.S. Senate) – After nearly securing its passage in the last Congress, U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines are re-introducing bipartisan legislation to grant the Little Shell Tribe of the Chippewa federal recognition.

The Little Shell Tribe has sought federal recognition for nearly four decades, and has been recognized by the State of Montana since 2000.

“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 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. “Last month we were close to getting this across the finish line, and I won’t give up the fight now. I look forward to working with Senator Tester and my colleagues to get this important bill signed into law so the Little Shell Tribe receives the recognition they greatly deserve.”

A bill recognizing the Little Shell was set to pass the Senate in the closing days of the 115th Congress, until Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) blocked the bill from receiving a Senate vote.

Native American Tribes must be recognized as sovereign nations by the federal government to exercise full self-governance. Under this nation-to-nation relationship, Tribes can access critical resources for economic development, health care and education resources, and regulate affairs on tribal lands on terms socially and culturally appropriate.

Federal recognition can be granted via Congressional legislation, a U.S. Court decision, or an administrative process through the U.S. Interior Department. Tester first introduced legislation to federally recognize the Little Shell Tribe in 2007. It was the first bill he introduced as a United States Senator.

The Little Shell Tribe is headquartered in Great Falls and has over 5,400 members across Montana.