Tester Celebrates Little Shell Recognition After More Than 100 Years of Tribal Efforts

Senator introduced recognition legislation every congressional session since 2007

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement celebrating the commemoration of federal recognition of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians:

“For more than 100 years, in the face of generations of injustice, the Little Shell Tribe fought to be recognized as a sovereign nation,” said Tester. “Federal recognition was the first bill I introduced as a Senator in 2007, and I have been honored to fight alongside the Little Shell for the past 12 years to get it across the finish line. We are going to keep the pressure on the federal government to make sure it fulfills its long overdue commitments, but in the meantime, Sharla and I wish Chairman Gray and every member of the Tribe our warmest congratulations on this monumental victory.”

Federal recognition of the Little Shell Tribe was signed into law in December as a part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Tester’s first bill introduction as a U.S. Senator in 2007 sought federal recognition for the Little Shell Tribe, and he has reintroduced the same legislation every Congress since. Earlier this year, he successfully pushed to include recognition of the Tribe as an amendment to the Senate’s must-pass defense bill: the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The NDAA passed the Senate in June, but Tester kept the pressure on throughout the bill’s reconciliation process with the version passed by the House of Representatives. Tester sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees requesting that they include language recognizing the Little Shell Tribe in any final version of the legislation.

The Little Shell Tribe is headquartered in Great Falls and has more than 5,400 members across Montana. They were recognized by the State of Montana in 2000 but have sought federal recognition for more than a century.