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By Tim Leeds 

Tester introduces bill to give Little Shell federal recognition


Members of Montana's congressional delegation are once again pushing to extend federal recognition to an Indian tribe.

Sen. Jon Tester, for himself and Sen. Max Baucus, introduced a bill to extend federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana.

The Tribe was recognized by Montana in 2000, but decades of trying to achieve federal recognition continues to be stalled.

In the bill, Tester recounts the history of the Tribe's search for recognition, including its participating in the Pembina Treaty of 1863, under which a large area of land in North Dakota was ceded to the United States.

Since then, the Tribe has sought federal recognition under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, starting in the 1930s and 1940s.

The last attempt, started in 1978, is stalled, with the Bureau of Indian Affairs denying to grant recognition in 2009.

Under Tester and Baucus' bill, the members of the Tribe will be eligible for federal services and benefits regardless of whether the Tribe has a reservation or where the Tribal member lives.

It also authorizes the federal government acquiring 200 acres of trust land to be used for a Tribal land base, with the secretary of the interior authorized to acquire additional land in the future for the benefit of the Tribe.


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