The Latest: Tribe's decades-long recognition bid advances

AP News
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Posted: Feb 08, 2017 3:47 PM

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on an effort to gain federal recognition for Montana's Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians (all times local):

1:30 p.m.

A Senate committee has approved a bill that would give federal recognition to Montana's Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians following a decades-long effort.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved the measure sponsored by Montana's two U.S. senators by voice vote on Wednesday.

The bill also would require the U.S. Department of the Interior to acquire 200 acres for the Little Shell's 6,000 members that could be used for a tribal government center, housing or other purposes.

The tribe has been without a recognized homeland since the late 1800s, when Chief Little Shell and his followers in North Dakota broke off treaty negotiations with the U.S. government. Tribe members later settled in Montana and southern Canada.

The Interior Department gave preliminary approval to recognizing the Little Shell in 2000 but rescinded the move in 2009.

Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines says the Little Shell's frustrations getting tribal recognition demonstrate that the federal recognition process is broken.

3 a.m.

Congress is taking up the decades-long fight for federal recognition by Montana's Little Shell Tribe, which would make its 6,000 members eligible for U.S. government benefits from education to health care.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a recognition bill that also gives the Little Shell 200 acres to use as a land base. It's sponsored by Montana Democrat Sen. Jon Tester.

Tribal Chairman Gerald Gray told The Associated Press he's cautiously optimistic his people's hopes finally will be realized.

They've been without a recognized homeland since the late 1800s, when Chief Little Shell and his followers in North Dakota broke off treaty negotiations with the U.S. government, later settling in Montana and southern Canada.

They were recognized by the state of Montana in 2000.