John Sinclair, chairman of the Little Shell Band of Chippewa, is in Washington, D.C., today to testify to exactly that point.
Matthew Brown of the Associated Press reports here that the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, including Chairman Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.) and Montana Sen. Jon Tester, say the process for obtaining federal recognition for tribes is broken.
“They point to the experience of Montana’s Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa, which filed its recognition petition in 1978, the same year the current process was established by Congress.
“It took 31 years for the tribe to get a negative decision from Interior’s Bu-reau of Indian Affairs – an outcome Montana’s Congressional delegation has vowed to overturn,” Brown writes.
Sinclair says the Little Shell spent $2 million over the years trying to meet requirements that generated 70,000 documents – a stack 35 feet high. “The process is completely run amok,” he says.
“Simply put, the administrative recognition process is a mess and, in all fair-ness and justice to Indian people, the Congress must step in and fix it,” he says in a statement.
Meanwhile, the state of Montana recognized the tribe nearly a decade ago. Its 4,300 members have no reservation, but mostly live in and around Great Falls.