BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. House has approved legislation for the federal government to recognize Montana's Little Shell Band of Chippewa Cree Indians.
The proposal by Montana Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte passed on 403-21 vote Tuesday. Identical legislation in the U.S. Senate, where a similar proposal died last session, is pending.
Recognition has been a decades-long fight for the Little Shell, who have never been afforded the basic treaty rights offered to other American Indian tribes.
The latest proposal would provide the Little Shell 200 acres (81 hectares) for a reservation and make the Little Shell eligible for health care benefits, education support and federal economic development programs.
The Little Shell Tribe has around 5,400 enrolled members and has been recognized by the state of Montana since 2000.