(GREAT FALLS) A bill passed through the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday that could provide federal recognition to the Little Shell of Chippewa Tribe.
“It’s another step closer for our fight for federal recognition. It now goes over to the Senate which we already have an exact companion bill in the Senate that’s already been out of committee twice. So we are just waiting for the House bill,” said Gerald Gray, Little Shell Chippewa Tribe Chairman.
“It’s really kind of sad too because we have a lot of tribal members that have been waiting for this day and they have passed on. It’s just something that we feel strongly that it’s time to do this for the Little Shell people,” Gray said.
The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Restoration Act will allow the tribe to buy 200 acres of land and be eligible for federal resources for economic development, health, and education.
“This bill is non-controversial. It’s just restoring recognition to our tribe. What it is going to do for our people, it’s going to bring dignity and a government relationship as it should have been back decades,” Gray said.
The Little Shell Tribe petitioned the federal government in the 1930s and 40s for a formal reservation, and to be allowed to organize under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.