There are 566 federally recognized Indian tribes in the United States. Gerald Gray hopes Montana's Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians gets to be the 567th.
”Because we’re always under the assumption and have been told that Congress can recognize tribes.”
Gray is the Little Shell's Council Chairman. The Great falls-based tribe is recognized by Montana, but not by the feds.
A federal designation formally recognizes tribes as sovereign nations and provides federal resources like housing, medical care and education.
Chairman Gray’s hopes for federal recognition are one side in a growing debate over who should have final say over a tribe's federal status.
The Obama administration recently changed the tribal recognition process. Some Republicans say that reduced both recognition standards and the role of lawmakers. Republican Representative Rob Bishop of Utah says Congress should have the final say. Interior Department Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn disagrees. Chairman Gray says his tribe believes the two sides don't have to be mutually exclusive:
Gerald Gray is Chairman of Montana's Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians.