Little Shell Indians Steve Doney and his granddaughter, Jaada Main, 9, of Zortman, Mont. According to the federal government, they're not really tribal members. (AP photo)
Here’s the editorial in today’s Missoulian newspaper concerning the rejection of the Little Shell Band of Chippewa’s three-decade pursuit of federal recognition:
The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians waited more than 30 years for the U.S. government to formally recognize them. First, they were flat-out ignored. Later, the Department of the Interior simply delayed its decision time after time.
And then finally, on Tuesday, the Little Shell got their answer – and it was a rejection.
The fact that it took the Interior Department so long to deny the tribe’s claim for federal recognition is not so surprising as their reasons for the rejection. According to John Sinclair, tribal chairman for the Little Shell, the Bureau of Indian affairs felt that the tribe’s community cohesion is insufficient, and that it has not garnered enough recognition from other sources.
Somehow, after all their years of research, the Bureau of Indian Affairs must have missed the fact that the tribe of more than 4,000 members, many of whom live in the Great Falls area, has been pushing for some form of recognition since the 1860s – as a community. Few individuals, let alone groups numbering in the thousands, could have maintained that sort of commitment in the face in bureaucracy for a lifetime, let alone across generations.
That alone is proof enough of community for us.
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Tags: buffalo post, Federal recognition, Little Shell Chippewa, Native American news