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Committee to hear bill on Little Shell recognition


Tim Leeds Havre Daily News [email protected]

A bill granting federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Montana has been referred to a House of Representatives committee for a hearing, Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., said in a press release. “Since April 28, 1978, The Little Shell have wrestled with Washington bureaucrats to get well-deserved federal recognition,” Rehberg said. “After more than 31 years, it's become evident the normal channels aren't cutting it. Justice delayed is justice denied, and I'm working to find a faster legislative fix. “This hearing is great news and is an important step toward recognition,” Rehberg added. Rehberg's bi l l was refer red Tuesday, the day he introduced it, to the House Committee on Natural Resources. It is scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday, July 15, he said. Rehberg and Montana's Democratic Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester have sponsored bills to grant federal recognition for the Tribe in past sesSions of Congress, without success. The Little Shell, a tribe with about 4,300 members concentrated in the Great Falls area but spread throughout central and northern Montana, have been trying to gain federal recognition since at least the 1930s. In 1978, the Little Shell petitioned the Bureau of Indian Affairs for recognition through t h e B u r e a u ' s Fe d e r a l Acknowledgement Process. Despite a favorable report by the Department of the Interior in 2000 and recognition of the Tribe by the Montana government that same year that procedure is still stalled in Washington. Rehberg sponsored his bill to expedite the recognition process, he said. “The Tribe appreciates Congressman Rehberg's support over the years in our efforts to regain federal recognition,” Little Shell Executive Director Russell Boham said in the press release. “The State of Montana and Montana's other tribal nations recognize the Little Shell. It is time that the federal government also extend official recognition. What recognition means for us, in a word, is hope. Hope for the future. Hope that access to federal programs can improve our communities and that selfdetermination can really mean self-sufficiency for our Little Shell families.” Rehberg said he will continue to work to gain recognition of the Tribe. I'll keep doing whatever it takes because it's well past time to get this done,” he said. “These Montanans deserve our attention before another generation of the Little Shell Tribe members goes unrecognized.”


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