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. Rep. 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.
This is not the first time the tribe has pushed for recognition. In 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, a Montana Republican, introduced the bill in September 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 now moves to the Senate waiting for approval.
Democratic Senator Jon Tester also released a statement supporting the bill:
“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 law, the bill must be passed by the Senate and sent to the President for consideration.
Reporting by Elizabeth Transue for MTN News