Montana Public Radio

Little Shell Recognition Added As Amendment To National Defense Bill

Jun 20, 2019
Originally published on August 9, 2019 10:57 am

Montana Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester found a new place for a bill that federally recognizes the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Last night, they placed it within the National Defense Authorization Act.

The Little Shell Tribe has been fighting for federal recognition for four decades.

"Little Shell leadership has been working tirelessly for this moment," says Tribal Chairman Gerald Gray.

Then last night happened. That’s when Senator Daines and Senator Tester found a new home for the bill—as an amendment to the annual defense legislation. Congress has passed it for over five decades now and that track record makes Chairman Gray optimistic. Maybe because past efforts by Montana’s Congressional delegation to pass this as a standalone bill have failed. But Gray expects this version to pass in the House, and if it does, Gray predicts a positive impact.

"This is going to help provide for future generations. It’s going to ensure that things like our culture, traditions, and the Little Shell way of life continues to thrive," says Gray.

According to Gray this bill would open up federal funding for things like healthcare and housing. Tester’s office says the next hurdle will be getting it through a series of votes in the Senate. In March, the House passed a bill sponsored by Republican congressman Greg Gianforte to federally recognize the Little Shell Tribe.

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