GREAT FALLS – Once again, Montana leaders are fighting for the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe.
Both Montana U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester and House Representative Greg Gianforte introduced a bill that would grant the tribe federal recognition.
“We’re very excited and grateful that they did. It just shows that they are very dedicated to actually getting this thing passed as soon as possible,” Little Shell Tribe chairman Gerald Gray said.
The Little Shell Restoration Act passed in the House in September 2018.
The bill that needed a unanimous vote was blocked in the Senate by one senator from Utah.
“It’s sad that we have to go through these hurdles but its lessons learned. It only makes us smarter as we go forward. Now our bill isn’t going to be a unanimous consent bill. It’s going to be a bill that will be attached to a package of bills or a bill that is majority vote wins,” Gray said.
The bill would grant the tribe federal recognition and among many things would give them access to resources including health care, education and housing.
“We’re a tribe that isn’t going to be dependent on the federal government. Congress also needs to know that. We’ve been seeking a lot of different economic avenues that will keep us self-sufficient. What it’s going to do is it really just brings dignity to the tribe that’s been rightfully wronged for so many years,” Gray said.
The first petition dates as far back as the 1930s.
Reporting by Elizabeth Transue for MTN News