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Gerald Gray

Spurred by Pandemic, Little Shell Tribe Fast-Tracks Its Health Service Debut

Feb 22, 2021
Linda Watson, enrollment officer for the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana, was the first person to receive a dose from the tribe’s covid-19 vaccine supply.
Kevin Trevellyan / Yellowstone Public Radio

Linda Watson draped a sweater with the words “Little Shell Chippewa Tribe” over her as she received the newly recognized tribal nation’s first dose of covid-19 vaccine.

“I wanted to show my pride in being a Little Shell member,” Watson, 72, said. “The Little Shell are doing very good things for the people.”

The Little Shell Tribe saw their highest voter turnout yet for tribal elections. YPR News’ Kaitlyn Nicholas spoke with reelected Chairman Gerald Gray about his previous term and his future goals for the tribe.

On Nov. 8, members of the Montana Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians reelected all incumbent council members and executive board officials, including Chairman Gerald Gray to his third four year term appointment.

Gray says securing federal recognition was his biggest focus during his last term as Chairman.

Native American tribes are taking varied approaches to Gov. Steve Bullock’s announcement Wednesday that Montana will lift the statewide stay at home order.

Some plan to align local restrictions with the state, while others will forge their own path.

The Indian Health Service is facilitating coronavirus testing in tribal communities across the United States and in Montana. 

This weekend, the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians celebrated something generations have fought for and that 400 other U.S. tribes are without: federal recognition.


The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed the $738 billion national defense spending bill and with it, federal recognition of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

The U.S. House passed the National Defense Authorization Act today. That means the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Montana is halfway to federal recognition. But will the tribe’s land base include Hill 57?

Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced a new endorsement from a consortium of tribal leaders Monday.

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.

A bill that would have granted federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe in Montana failed in the U.S. Senate Thursday.

Senator Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, objected to fast-tracking the bill’s passage in the Senate.