Little Shell Tribe of Montana

An unofficial Tribal Member website


"Ayabewaywetung"
"Es 'Sence"
Chief Little Shell
also known as "Little Clam"


This Little Shell Tribe Website is BY Little Shell Tribal Members FOR Little Shell Tribal Members

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Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of
Montana Federal Recognition Status with BIA Summary

Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of MT (#31)

letter of intent 4/28/78
Techinicial Assist Letter 1 4/18/85
Techinicial Assist Letter 2 4/8/85
ready 3/23/95
active 2/12/97
proposed positive finding published 7/21/00
OFA Press Release Denying Recognition 10/27/09
OFA Final Determination 10/27/09

final determination Denied 10/27/09

The BIA has filed with the Federal Register the Denial of Federal Recognition on November 3, 2009. This begins a 90 day countdown where the Tribe, interested members may request a reversal of the Final Determination. Here is the Federal Register Submission:

OFA Final Determination Federal Register Submission, Nov 3, 2009

On February 1, 2010, if there is no request for Reversal (Appeal) or if the Final Determination has been overturned, it will be come final and non-reversable.



Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of
Montana Federal Recognition Status with US COngress Summary

H.R.3120 : To extend the Federal relationship to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana as a distinct federally recognized Indian tribe, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Rehberg, Denny [MT] (introduced 7/7/2009) Cosponsors (None)
Committees: House Natural Resources
Latest Major Action: 7/15/2009 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee Hearings Held.

S.546 : A bill to extend the Federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Tester, Jon [MT] (introduced 3/10/2011) Cosponsors (1)
Committees: Senate Indian Affairs
Latest Major Action: 3/10/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs.




Latest Little Shell Tribe Related Headlines

For all the archive News, go to the Little Shell News Headline Archive Page

Sept 3, 2011

2 Little Shell lawyers quit in frustration

From The Havre Daily News

John Kelleher- Writer Havre Daily News

Two Washington attorneys representing the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe in its effort to win federal recognition have resigned, and one faction in the tribal dispute says it is because of frustration with John Sinclair.

Sinclair, of Havre, claims to be the legitimate president of the tribe, as does John Gilbert of Great Falls. The two factions have been involved in a years-long verbal fight.

Co-counsel Heather Sibbison was quoted in a Saturday press release from the Gilbert faction as saying “my very great hope that you will somehow find a way to heal the many wounds so evident from the written and electronic correspondence that has crossed my desk over the last many months.”

Most of the hostile emails received by the Havre Daily News have been from Gilbert supporters.

Sibbison and attorney Arlinda Locklear are with the high-powered law/lobbying firm Patton Boggs.

Although the Little Shell is accepted by Montana as a tribe, it has been unsuccessful in its decades-long effort to win federal recognition. Unlike Montana's other seven tribes, it does not have a reservation.

Montana's federal lawmakers have supported federal recognition, but the proposal has been rejected by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Both sides have speculated that the tribal discord is at least in part to blame for BIA's rejection of recognition, which would open the door to federal funds and benefits for trial members.

For a while, it appeared that a deal may have been arranged that would have solved the dispute.

On June 25, under the direction of mediator David Rash of Wisconsin, the two sides agreed to hold a special election within 90 days.

But almost immediately, the sparring between the two sides resumed.

For instance, the Gilbert faction wanted an immediate announcement of the deal, and Sinclair balked.

Gilbert's supporters wanted to hold the election under the terms of the tribe's constitution, while Sinclair said his board should run the process, according to James Parker Shield, a spokesman for Gilbert.

Shield said Sinclair wanted to bar people from voting if Sinclair had disqualified or disenrolled them. The tribal constitution has no provision for disenrollment, Shield said,

Shield said similar tactics called into question Sinclair's re-election in 2009, triggering the dispute.

Shield said his group was hoping a special election would bring the lingering dispute to a close, but their optimism has waned.

"We feel frustrated," he said. "We can't sue in federal court because the tribe doesn't have federal recognition."

"And we can't sue in Montana courts because they say it is an issue of Indian sovereignty."

He said discontent with Sinclair is increasing.

"At every step of the way, he has acted like a dictator," Shield said.



Sept 3, 2011

Little Shell Little Shell lose attorneys over lack of election

From The Official Little Shell Tribal Council Website

Little Shell Chippewa Tribe
Office of the Chief of Staff
P.O. Box 6373
Great Falls, Montana 59406
(406) 590-1745


Press Release

September 2, 2011

For Immediate Release
Contact: James Parker Shield
406-590-1745

Little Shell lose attorneys over lack of election

Today the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe received disturbing new from the attorneys, who have been representing the tribe’s federal recognition effort.

The Washington D.C. firm of Patton Boggs notified tribal leaders on Friday that it will no longer be able to represent the tribe.

Co-Counsel, Heather Sibbison stated that “my very great hope that you will somehow find a way to heal the many wounds so evident from the written and electronic correspondence that has crossed my desk over the last many months”.

The other Co-Counsel, Arlinda Locklear stated that “the prospects for activity on the recognition bill will be clarified once the agreed upon election takes place, so that there are no lingering leadership issues”.

In response, Tribal Chairman John Gilbert commended the two attorneys and Patton Boggs stating “we appreciate all the hard work and selfless dedication of these two fine ladies and the support by Patton Boggs”. Gilbert added, “We feel that Patton Boggs has become as frustrated as we are with Mr. Sinclair’s obvious attempts, through made-up excuses, to avoid taking part in an election that would end this tribal government dispute that has now cost us our attorneys”.



July 29, 2011

Little Shell Tribe Federal Recognition Bill Passess Senate Committee

From US Senator Daniel Akaka (D-AK) Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, chaired by Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), approved legislation to extend federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Montana, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, and six tribes located in Virginia. The legislation will make these tribes eligible for all the rights and privileges afforded to federally recognized tribes.

In addition, the Committee approved the Quileute Indian Tribe Tsunami and Flood Protection Act and the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act of 2011 (HEARTH Act).

"I am pleased that the Committee approved these bills which are instrumental in changing the lives of Native peoples," said Chairman Akaka. "I look forward to working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to secure enactment."

The HEARTH Act was amended to include S. 676, the Carcieri Fix bill. The amendment reaffirms the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to take lands into trust for all federally-recognized Indian tribes. The Carcieri fix is a top priority for the Administration, Indian tribes and the Committee. Chairman Akaka noted that the amendment is the same language that was approved by the Committee as a stand-alone bill in April. "The language merely reaffirms the intent of the Indian Reorganization Act as it has been carried out for the past 75 years," Akaka said.

Chairman Akaka's full opening statement is available here: LINK

Approved by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee today:

Three recognition bills:

•S. 546, the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Restoration Act of 2011
•S. 379, the Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2011
•S. 1218, the Lumbee Recognition Act
S. 703, the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act of 2011, which streamlines the leasing process for tribes and individual Indians. The bill will help tribes use their resources in a more efficient way to provide economic development, education, housing, and other opportunities for their tribal members.
S. 636, the Quileute Indian Tribe Tsunami and Flood Protection Act, which settles longstanding boundary issues for the Quileute Tribe and allows their members to move to safer ground outside a tsunami and flood zone.

The bills approved today will be reported to the full Senate for consideration. Updates are available at http://indian.senate.gov.



July 28, 2011

US Senate Hearing On Little Shell Recognition Bill S546

From the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

Business Meeting Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
Thursday, July 28 2011
2:15PM
Dirksen Senate Building 628
Description:

AGENDA

1. S. 546, A bill to extend the Federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana, and for other purposes;

2. S. 379, A bill to extend Federal recognition to the Chickahominy Indian Tribe, the Chickahominy Indian Tribe-Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, the Rappahannock Tribe, Inc., the Monacan Indian Nation, and the Nansemond Indian Tribe;

3. S. 1218, A bill to provide for the recognition of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, and for other purposes;

4. S. 703, A bill to amend the Long-Term Leasing Act, and for other purposes; and

5. S. 636, A bill to provide the Quileute Indian Tribe Tsunami and Flood Protection, and for other

UPDATE:

According to a message from Senator Tester's office, The Committee voted IN FAVOR of the bill and now goes to the Floor of the Senate for a vote. But because of the drama happening in congress, it may be placed as part of an appropriation Bill. "One Step Closer" says one Little Shell Tribal Member.. no truer words were spoken.


July 3, 2011

Little Shell Vision Statement and Signed Binding Agreement between Councils

From the Official Little Shell Tribal Council Website

The Little Shell Tribal Council has posted the Vision Statement and the Signed Binding Agreement between the Two Councils. If you are enrolled in the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana, you can go to the Official website and vote on the Documents if you agree with them or not. The Text is as follows:

Vision Statement
LITTLE SHELL TRIBE
OF CHIPPEWA INDIANS OF MONTANA

A Shared Vision

We envision the Little Shell Tribe
to continue to survive and exist as a united,
successful, prosperous and self-sustaining community
that provides housing, education, health care,
and a justice-law enforcement system
that ensures that it is safe and secure,
while carrying on cultural traditions and language
under leadership that is reliable and accountable,
resulting in community pride.

View Actual Vision Statement

Click Link to vote if you agree with this statement: Little Shell Vision Statement

Signed Binding Agreement:

Little Shell Tribal Council’s Agreement June 25, 2011

The two opposing Little Shell Chippewa Tribal Councils, lead respectively by John Sinclair and John Gilbert participated in a mediation session sponsored by the Native American Rights Fund, in Fort Benton, Montana, on june 25, 2011, and have agreed to the following:

1. That a new tribal council election will be held within 90 days and will be conducted through the auspices of NARF or its designee.

2. That John Sinclair and John Gilbert will engage in joint leadership, with John Sinclair serving as primary contact relative to pending Federal Recognition and Pembina judgment Claims in consultation with John Gilbert who will be the tribes secondary contact for the above matters.

This agreement, which takes effect upon signing, will be provided to the Native American Rights Fund, Patton Boggs Attorneys, and media, State of Montana Indian Tribes and posted on the Little Shell Web-sites.

Signed into, and agreed upon this 25th day of June 2011.

 
John Sinclair                        John Gilbert
 
Ken Erickson                         Gerald Gray
 
Jesse Azure                          Betty Hofeldt
 
Brian Brough                         Richard Parenteau
 
                                     Alvina Allen

View Actual Binding Signed Agreement



Click Link to vote if you agree with this statement: Binding Little Shell Signed Agreement



July 3, 2011

Little Shell Councils agree to hold new election

From the Great Falls Tribune

The two opposing Little Shell tribal councils have agreed through mediation to hold a new election and have set up a temporary dual-chairmanship. However, the deal may be jeopardized by one council releasing the contract to local media.

The tribe currently has two chairmen and two tribal councils, stemming from a dispute over an election in May 2009, resulting in two elections and two different councils, each of which accused the other of violating the tribal constitution to get elected.

Leaders of both groups denied the other group's accusations.

According to a press release from the Great Falls-based Little Shell Tribal Council chaired by John Gilbert, he and Havre-based Little Shell Tribal Council Chairman John Sinclair, along with a quorum of each of their respective councils, met in Fort Benton on June 25 in a mediation session sponsored by the Native American Rights Fund. Former tribal judge and professional mediator David Raasch, a member of the Mohican Tribe, mediated the agreement.

The agreement states that:

» A new tribal council election will be held within 90 days, and will be conducted through the auspices of the Native American Rights Fund or its designee and

» That Sinclair and Gilbert will engage in joint leadership, with Sinclair serving as the primary contact, in consultation with Gilbert, for all matters relating to the tribe's efforts to receive federal recognition, as well as matters pertaining to land claims negotiations.

The agreement also states:

"This agreement, which takes effect upon signing, will be provided to the Native American Rights Fund, Patton Boggs Attorneys, and media, State of Montana Indian Tribes and posted on the Little Shell websites."

The agreement was signed by Havre-based Tribal Council members Sinclair, Ken Erickson, Jesse Azure and Brian Brough, and Great Falls-based Tribal Council members Gilbert, Gerald Gray, Betty Hofeldt, Richard Parenteau and Alvina Allen.

"I have to compliment John Sinclair and his council members who came forth," Gilbert said Saturday. "That was a good gesture to enter into this mediation with us. I commend them all."

The agreement was not released to the media until late Friday because Sinclair refused to give his consent to the release, according to Gilbert.

Gilbert said he tried to be "courteous and professional" by waiting for Sinclair's approval for a media release, even though the contract allowed for one. However, after getting several calls from tribal members requesting to know the results of the mediation, Gilbert chose to authorize the release.

"I don't know why he (Sinclair) would want to keep such good news from our tribal people," Gilbert said.

In an email provided to the Tribune by Gray, and sent to Gilbert, Raasch and a Native American Rights Fund official, Sinclair wrote, "Let me make myself clear, if there is any media without my consent the deal is off."

Gilbert responded to Sinclair that if the deal was canceled, then Sinclair would not be given authority by the Great Falls council to represent the tribe in federal recognition and other matters.

"The Little Shell Chippewa people should not be kept in the dark about the agreement we reached on June 25th in Fort Benton," Gilbert wrote in telling Sinclair a news release would be issued. "If you insist on setting up roadblocks and threatening to opt out of the mediated agreement (even against the wishes of your council members), then we shall have no choice but to withdraw our approval of having you represent our tribe in matters pertaining to federal recognition and the Pembina land claims."

Despite that threat, Sinclair reiterated his position when reached by phone Saturday, telling the Tribune that if a story ran "the deal is null and void."

The copy of the signed contract provided to the Tribune contained no such clause.

Sinclair said he didn't remember the release of the agreement to the media being a condition of the contract, saying the news was to be put only on the tribal websites until details of the election could be worked out, at which point releasing the information to the media would be appropriate.

If the election goes forward as agreed upon, Gilbert said he doesn't expect there to be a primary. However, he added that any election would be open to all tribal members who could pass a background check. He also said he has asked Raasch to be the principal contact for any election.

Gilbert also said he doubts he would run for a council position in the election.

"At this point in time, I have reservations," he said. "I personally believe it is time for some new blood and new faces — some new leadership."

Gilbert said it might be best if no current member of either council seeks office if a new election is held. He said such a move would help put the internal dispute of the last two years at rest.

"It's time to move on, it's got to come to an end," he said. "We need to focus on the priority of the federal recognition — nobody wants to ruin that."



July 2, 2011

Two Little Shell factions agree to new elections

From the Havre Daily News

The bitter dispute between two factions of Little Shell Chippewa Tribes have agreed to set aside their differences and hold special elections in the next 90 days.

The deal was reached during a mediation session last weekend and was announced Saturday morning.

The special elections will be held under the auspices of the Native American Rights Fund or its designee.

In the interim, John Sinclair and John Gilbert, the leaders of the two factions will jointly operate tribal functions. Sinclair will be the main contact as the tribe seeks to win federal recognition.



June 27, 2011

NEW Tribal Council Elections for Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana to be held within 90 days

From the Official Little Shell Tribal Council Website

A successful mediation hearing was held at the Sherrif's Dept in Fort Benton Montana Saturday, June 35, 2011 from 10am to 5pm. Present were John Sinclair, Ken Erickson, Jesse Azure, Brian Brough, John Gilbert, Gerald Gray, Alvina Allen, Richard Parenteau, Betty Hofeldt, James Parker Shield and the mediator David Raasch from WI (He was hired by NARF). Points agreeded upon by all parties are as follows:

1) That a new election will be held within 90 days and that it is put together by NARF.
2) John Sinclair and his council, John Gilbert and his council will act as a joint council and share all decisions and authority for the LS tribe until the new election is completed.

More information to follow.



June 2, 2011

GRAND OPENING: Official Little Shell Tribal Offices to host Open house Saturday June 4, 2011

From the Official Little Shell Tribal Council Website

Official Little Shell Tribal Office Grand Opening!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
1626 6th Avenue North
Great Falls, MT 59401-1720

Meet your Constitutionally Elected Tribal Council and tour the new offices. Little Shell color prints are also available for purchase.. Snacks and food provided.

There will also be a Tribal Picnic at the Tribal Capitol located at the Morony State Park 1:30pm to 3:30pm.



May 9, 2011

Dr. Pamela Bunte, Little Shell Historian, has Passed

From John Gilbert, President, Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana

From an email received this afternoon:

Hello All,

Well once again I must pass on some sad news to all of our L S members. I received a phone call from Sandra Kennedy this afternoon who is located in Cal. She was an associate of Dr. Pam Bunte. She informed me that Pam laid down yesterday afternoon for a rest and passed away during the night. She told me that Pam’s illness had advanced. She and her husband Rob have worked so hard on our petition always hoping we would achieve fed recognition. Sandra will be notifying me tomorrow on an address were can send our cards of condolences. I will prepare a letter on behalf of the council and tribe.



May 6, 2011

Competing leaders to testify for US Senate's Little Shell recognition bill

From the Havre Daily News

By Tim Leeds

Another schism has developed between the rival groups saying they are the leadership of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians, this time over use of an office space in Great Falls.

John Gilbert, chair of the council elected in 2010, said this morning his group has taken over and is in the process of re-opening the tribal office at 1626 6th Ave. N. in Great Falls.

“It’s a shame to have it empty when it belongs to the Little Shell people, and we can use it, ” he said.

John Sinclair, chair of the tribal council elected in 2009, said Thursday evening that the entry into the tribally owned building was illegal.

Citing financial concerns, the Sinclair-led faction shut down the building last year and moved their records to an office in Havre.

Gilbert said the title is in the name of the tribe, and belongs to all members.

"They abandoned the building, ” he said. “It was locked up. It belongs to the Little Shell people. We are the duly elected council, and we are going to use it. We have a lot of business to conduct.”

Sinclair said he contacted the Great Falls Police Department, but that department would not take action.

The complaint was being researched by the Great Falls Police Department for the Havre Daily News this morning, but information was not available by deadline.

The ongoing leadership dispute comes in the middle of another struggle, to receive federal recognition.

The tribe has been seeking recognition since the 1800s, with its latest request, filed in 1978, denied by the U. S. Department of the Interior.

Each of the councils says it is the official government of the tribe. After the scheduled election in November 2008 was delayed until early 2009, other problems with the government arose.

Those included the state withholding grant money from the tribe after officials said questions about accounting practices were not adequately answered by Sinclair. Although no abuse was alleged, problems in the accounting system had created the potential for financial abuse, audits by the state departments of Commerce and Public Health and Human Services found.

A group then formed saying John Sinclair’s council had violated tribal laws and its constitution by delaying the 2008 election. The group held another election in 2010, and the council elected then said it is the rightful leadership.

Sinclair has said the delay was legal and required, and that the newer council is the invalid one.

Gilbert said his group is in the process of cleaning up the building and paying past-due bills while getting utilities switched over.

He said his council hopes to have it ready for a grand opening in time for the council meeting Saturday, June 18.

He said the first major work planned in the building will be making and distributing tribal identification cards requested by members, with the next looking into tribal enrollment once all of the records are updated and completed.



April 13, 2011

Competing leaders to testify for US Senate's Little Shell recognition bill

From the Great Falls Tribune

RYAN HALL, Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

Both of the Little Shell Tribe's two chairmen plan to testify in front of the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee Thursday when it hears a proposal by Sen. Jon Tester D-Mont., to recognize the tribe after 33 years of seeking federal recognition.

The tribe currently has two chairmen and two tribal councils, stemming from a dispute over an election in May 2009. Prior to that, the Havre-based council, chaired by John Sinclair was the tribe's elected council. However, members of the then-newly formed Little Shell Alliance, charge that Sinclair unjustly postponed the tribal election and violated the tribal constitution. They also say that once an election was scheduled, any Alliance candidates were wrongfully disqualified from the ballot. The Alliance then held its own election in March 2010, choosing a Great Falls-based council chaired by John Gilbert. Sinclair has alleged that the Alliance election was unconstitutional and illegal and threatened to hold a tribunal against Alliance members. Leaders of both groups have denied the other group's accusations.

According to a news release from Sinclair, he was invited by the Indian Affairs Committee to testify at Thursday's hearing.

"I will travel to this oversight hearing. I am very pleased that Senator Tester has brought this legislation forward...," Sinclair said in the statement.

Great Falls-based Little Shell Chief of Staff James Parker Shield said Gilbert met with Sinclair in Havre on Friday to discuss the hearing. According to a letter to Sinclair from Gilbert, dated Monday, Sinclair told Gilbert during that meeting that he wanted to be the person to officially represent the tribe at the hearing.

Gilbert informed his tribal council and members of the tribe of Sinclair's wish during a meeting of the Great Falls council Saturday. The council authorized allowing Sinclair to be the sole representative of the tribe at the hearing only if he faxed a letter to Gilbert by noon Tuesday agreeing to have his council participate, along with the Great Falls council, in a tribal judges panel conducted by an independent third party. The goal of the panel would be to resolve which tribal council is duly elected and legitimate.

In his letter, Gilbert stated that if Sinclair turned down the offer or failed to respond, then Gilbert would appear before the Indian Affairs Committee to testify Thursday as tribal chairman.

"If there is no response or you turn down this offer to resolve our tribal government dispute, then I intend to speak on behalf of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe, as Tribal Chairman, on Thursday," Gilbert wrote.

In an interview Tuesday, Sinclair said he was blindsided by the letter because he told Gilbert on Friday that a tribal judges panel would take time to set up and he thought the two had an understanding.

"It was kind of a blackmail letter saying if I don't do this, they will basically disrupt the hearing," Sinclair said. "You don't set up a tribal court in 30 days."

The two councils planned in August to have a judges panel overseen by the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council. The Great Falls council approved a resolution to that effect. Sinclair said his council approved a similar resolution but did not submit the paperwork prior to Leaders Council Chairman James Steele Jr. resigning.

The Leaders Council no longer has an interest in convening the panel, Sinclair said.

The Great Falls council and its followers believe Sinclair's council purposely stalled in passing the resolution and submitting the paperwork, and didn't plan to take part in the panel.

Sinclair said he told Gilbert on Friday that he is open to a binding decision by an independent tribal judges panel, but that it can't be rushed.

He said he drives snow plows for the state in the winter, and given the harsh season this year, he is behind on tribal business because of his day job. Sinclair said he told Gilbert that even 90 days wouldn't be enough to set up a panel and be ready to present his side.

Sinclair said Tuesday that he is willing to agree to a series of short-term deadlines, such as 30 days to agree to a panel, but that he couldn't agree to a short-term deadline by which to hold the panel.

"I thought he was open to that, but obviously it was just grandstanding," Sinclair said.

However, Shield said tribal members at Saturday's Great Falls council meeting believed Sinclair wanted a deadline that is further out so he could put off the panel.

"Pretty much everybody was in agreement that this was viewed as a stalling tactic on Sinclair's part," Shield said.

Shield also said Tuesday that the Great Falls group is open to a new election in which both councils can run candidates, and any other tribal members could seek a spot on one, duly elected council.

"We would jump at that in a hot second," Shield said.

Sinclair said he has no interest in such an election unless a tribal court or judges panel mandates it.

In the meantime, the tribe continues to have two councils.

Shield said he doesn't believe the current tribal government situation will impact the tribe's effort to be recognized.

"I think the recognition issue will be debated and decided upon on its own merits," Shield said.

Sinclair said he believes that Gilbert could damage the tribe's effort to be recognized, depending on his actions Thursday.

"They want something and they don't care what happens to the tribe," he said. "(This) could destroy any chance we have for legislative recognition, which at this point is our best — and maybe only — chance."

Shield said the Great Falls council is not willing to let Sinclair be the sole tribal representative at the hearing without an agreement to settle the governmental stalemate because of the ramifications of such a decision.

"That makes things a little awkward for our side because that would amount to de facto recognition of as chairman, and that's not the case," Shield said.

However, he acknowledged that having two chairmen testify also would be awkward.

"It's not ideal," he said. "No one wants an awkward situation."

Sinclair said the committee decides who to invite to testify.

Shield said he is sure Gilbert can at least submit written testimony, but he questioned the choice to only invite one chairman to testify.

A spokesman for Tester said Tuesday that he would have to research who chooses who is invited to testify in front of committees.

Shield said he believes both chairmen will travel to Washington, D.C., at their own expense.



April 11, 2011

US Senate hearing on S. 546, Little Shell Restoration Act of 2011

From the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

HEARING on S. 636, A bill to provide the Quileute Indian Tribe Tsunami and Flood Protection, and for other purposes; S. 703, the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act of 201l; and S. 546, the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Restoration Act of 2011.

Thursday, April 14 2011
2:15PM
Dirksen-628

The webcast of this hearing will be available on the scheduled hearing date.



April 9, 2011

Little Shell Chippewa leadership may be decided by tribal judges panel

From the KRTV (Great falls)

by Alex Grubb (Great Falls)

The Little Shell Chippewa Tribe is taking another step in the path to resolving a nearly year-long dispute over leadership within the tribe.

Little Shell Alliance Chairman John Gilbert announced the latest plans for a solution during a meeting Saturday at the Westgate Mall.

Gilbert and Tribal Council President John Sinclair met Friday to talk about moving forward and putting the disagreement behind them.

At this point, it seems a tribal judges panel seems to be the best option.

The panel would be made up of three tribal judges who would offer a binding decision on who would lead the tribe.

"We put together the judges panel it would make it arbitrated and binding, so it's something that we can both agree on, and hopefully that both of our councils will come together on it, we shake hands and get on with business, federal recognition for the little shell people and bring our people back together," said Gilbert.

In a phone interview, Sinclair told KRTV his council more than anyone wants the issue resolved, but thought publicizing the issue hurts the chances of resolution.

"It's a very sensitive time for the tribe, I think we need to work carefully through this, make sure that we don't close any doors that have been opened," Sinclair said.

At the meeting, 35 people signed a letter to Sinclair, urging him to let tribal judges resolve the issue in two weeks rather than waiting another 90 days before taking action.



April 9, 2011

Little Shell Chippewa Continue Efforts To Unite Two Tribal Councils

From the KFBB (Great Falls)

By Charlie Keegan

Members of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe met in Great Falls Saturday to talk about unifying the two tribal councils.

Since 2008, the tribe has been split with one section headed by John Gilbert in Great Falls and another in Havre following John Sinclair. To be recognized by the federal government as a Native American Tribe, there can only be one tribal council.

In August, the Great Falls group wanted to have a three judge panel hear and decide the fate of the tribe. Gilbert spoke with Sinclair Friday and Saturday’s group decided to write Sinclair a letter to urge him to resolve the issue within two weeks through the panel.

“The number one idea we both lean towards is the three judge panel that was suggested by Tribal Chairman of the Tribal Leaders Council, at the time, James Steele. It’s something that we like, it’s something that’s never been done before, a tribal judges panel to decide an Indian issue, so we’re excited about that,” Gilbert explains.

Gilbert says another hopeful idea is two law professors at the University of Montana expressed interest in mediating the conflict.

The Little Shell Chippewa, known as the Landless Indians, has about 4,500 members.



March 25, 2011

Official Quarterly Little Shell Tribal Council Meeting Announced

From the Official Little Shell Tribal Council

The Little Shell Tribal Secretary/Treasurer has announced that the Next Official Tribal Council meeting will be held in Great Falls at the Westgate Shopping Mall in the Conference Room.. It will be April 9th, 2011 at 1pm. The Conference room is located next to the Administrative offices of the Mall, there will be signs posted on how to get there. You can contact the Tribe at (406)761-3377



March 22, 2011

James Parker Shield named Minority Small Business Champion

From the Great Falls Tribune

Great Falls businessman will be recognized for his efforts to advance minority small-business interests.

James Parker Shield was named the Small Business Administration's Minority Small Business Champion for a six-state region that includes Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Colorado.

The award is one of several presented by the SBA to recognize Small Business Week in June.

"James has been committed to the world of Native Americans for nearly 30 years," wrote Rebecca Engum, director of the Small Business Development Center, in her nomination of Shield. "He is very deserving of the recognition an award like this will bring."

Shield is the founder of a nonprofit agency, War Shield Development, which presents workshops on entrepreneurship for Native Americans. The 4-year-old organization has a contract with the Montana Department of Transportation Disadvantage Business Enterprise Supportive Service to provide training to help disadvantaged businesses gain work in the highway construction arena. It also is the satellite location for the Northern American Development Corp.'s Procurement Technical Assistance Center.

Shield launched his own small business three years ago with the publication of the quarterly magazine Native Montana. More recently, he opened Native Montana Art Gallery Gifts & Publishing in Great Falls.

"It gave me the chance to have more insight to what our War Shield Development clients deal with, to really get a taste for it," Shield said. "Now I have some practical experience to speak from, and I can relate to the hurdles small business owners have to get over."

Shield next will be considered for the SBA's national award recognizing advocates for minority small businesses.

The other Montana Small Business Administration 2011 Small Business Week award recipients are:

•Small Business Person of the Year, Steve Marks, Marks Ranch and Lumber, Helena.

•Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Alex "Papu" Rincon, Jr., four0six, Helena. First Runner-up Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Nick Bennett, Montana Mobile Meats LTD, Bozeman.

•Financial Services Champion, Brandon Berger, Big Sky Economic Development Authority, Billings.

•Home-based Business Champion, Becky Stahl, Becky's Berries, Absarokee.

•Women in Business Champion, Christine Johnson, Missoula.

•Small Business Community of the Year, city of Billings.



March 20, 2011

Obituary: Glen “Rusty” Michael Zimmerman

Cremation & Funeral Gallery

Glen “Rusty” Michael Zimmerman, passed away Thursday March 17, 2011 at his residence in Billings of a sudden cardiac event. Rusty was born July 29,1953 the son of Robert and LouAnn (Protel) Zimmerman in Wolf Point, MT. He was raised north of Poplar, on their family farm and went to school in Poplar. Growing up, Rusty was active in school activities from football, basketball and was a very good wrestler. He loved the social side of school. Rusty was the life of the party. He spent a lot of time working on cars in his parent’s garage which his mother loved because she knew where he was; even though he usually left a mess in the garage after he was done.

Rusty loved hunting and fishing either with family, or friends, or by himself, he just loved nature. After he graduated from high school, he married Becky Schagunn and they had two daughters, Wendi and Kelly. He was a very devoted father. Rusty and Becky moved to Billings where he worked in construction. He also worked on the oil pipeline in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska for nine years. The toughest part of working in Alaska was leaving his family for long periods of time. In 1983, Rusty married Brenda Ramirez and they had twin girls, Lindsey and Chelsey and a step daughter Spring. He then went to work for ConocoPhillips Refinery, where he spent 21 years and worked up to Head Operator. Rusty married Patty Rak on December 11, 1998, adding 3 more step daughters to his already large family. He enjoyed nothing more than spending time with his family in Poplar, Billings or during vacations they all took together. He was always the type of person that would help anybody in need, no matter what the need was. Rusty had a heart bigger than his body and would give his last dime to someone in need. He loved going to his brother Bob’s cabin and fishing on the lake or just watching his grandchildren swim. He cherished nothing more than spending time with his family. His faith was very important to him.

Rusty is survived by his wife, Patty of Billings, daughters Wendi (Ryan) Bergthold, of Billings; Kelly (Todd) Howell of Australia; Lindsey (Rich) Davis of Billings; Chelsey Zimmerman of Billings. Step daughters, Melissa Malcom of Billings, Shannon (Neal) Moore of Wiley, CO, and Jamie (John) Binek of Billings, Sister, Judy Reid of Sidney, MT; brothers Bob (Connie) Zimmerman of Wolf Point, and Tim (Shawna) Zimmerman of Hardin; Grandchildren, Sydney, Madison, Sarah, Brad, Trey, Quincy, Tavin, Keaton, Ryan, Kody, Tarynn, and Tanner. Numerous nephews, a niece, an aunt, and numerous cousins and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Tom and Dan Zimmerman, and brother-in-law Rick Reid.

Rusty will be truly missed. We love you dad, husband, uncle, brother, grandpa and friend.

Visitation will be held 4:00 to 7:00 pm Wednesday March 23, at Cremation & Funeral Gallery. Funeral services will be held 11:00am Thursday March 24, at Shiloh United Methodist Church. Graveside services will follow at Mountview Cemetery.

Arrangements are by Cremation & Funeral Gallery. Condolences may be sent online at www.cfgbillings.com



March 17, 2011

Breaking News: Little Shell Sergeant-at-Arms passes away

From the Little Shell Tribal Council

Word has come from the Zimmerman Family that Glen "Rusty" Zimmerman was found deceased in his home this morning. No details are currently available on the causes.

Recently, Rusty ran for an at large seat of the Little Shell Tribal Council but did not receive enough votes to serve. He was Appointed by the Tribal council in 2010 to serve as the Sergeant-At-Arms and was authorized to serve any warrants or orders from the Tribal Council and to provide security for Tribal Council Meetings.

Tribal Council President, John Gilbert has asked that Thoughts and Prayers of Tribal Members be directed to Rusty's Family to help them get through this hard time. More details will be posted here as they become available.



March 16, 2011

Press Release: University of North Dakota 41st Time-Out and Wacipi Celebration

PRESS RELEASE

Date: March 16, 2011
Contact Person: Brittany Crawford (UND-IA President)
or Rachel Egstad (UND-ISA President)
Contact Phone: 701-777-4291 or 701-777-4314
Re: UND 41st Time-Out and Wacipi Celebration

The University of North Dakota Indian Studies Association (UND-ISA) and Indian Association (UND-IA) are proud to announce the 41st Time-Out and Wacipi (Powwow) Celebration at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

The Time-Out Events will be held April 4-8, 2011. Time-Out Week, hosted by the UND Indian Studies Association, gives students, faculty, and the general public an opportunity to take a break from their routine schedules and experience and learn something new about the Native American culture. Events will include various educational presentations and demonstrations. The Time-Out events will be held throughout the campus.

The Wacipi (Powwow) Celebration will be held April 8-10, 2011. A basketball tournament will also be held in conjunction with the Wacipi. Both will be held at the Hyslop Sports Center located on the UND campus. A Wacipi can be described as a celebration through dancing and singing. Drum groups and dancers come from all places of the continent to take part in this cultural celebration.

The Time-Out events and Wacipi are designed and implemented to build community and celebrate the diverse indigenous cultures of the region. All events are open to the public and community-wide involvement and participation are encouraged!

For more information, call 701-777-4291 or 701-777-4314 or visit the following websites:

www.und.edu/dept/indian/ISA.htm (UND Indian Studies Association)
www.und.edu/org/undia (UND Indian Association)



Febuary 28, 2011

Round Dance to Honor the Longest Walk will feature Little Shell Singer

From the Helena Indian Alliance

Round Dance to Honor The Longest Walk 3 Reversing Diabetes In Native America

WHEN:
March 11th and 12th 2011

WHERE:
Sheridan Hall
501 Euclid Avenue
Helena, Montana 59601

Sponsered By:
Sacred Whisper Society and Helena Indian Alliance


On Friday, the Feast begins at 5pm and the Round Dance at 7pm. On Saturday, the Feast begins at 1pm and the Play by Christopher Francisco and Company Round Dance starts at 6pm. Two Contests sponsered by the Sacred Whisper Society will award the Winner of the Single Hand Drum contest $400 and the Team Hand Drum winner will receive $1000.

Host Singer is Nakoa HeavyRunner, other Singers is Kyle Spearson (Little Shell) and the Night Hawk Singers of Crow Agency, MT. Contact Gordon Plain Bull Jr. (gplainbull@hahoo.com 406-437-2377) or Keith Baily, Executive Director of the Helena Indian Alliance (406-442-9244) for More Information.

Venders are Welcome and there is a $75 setup donation



January 20, 2011

Administrator to be appointed in U.S. flag dispute

From the AP via the Billings Gazette

From the Great Falls Tribune

GREAT FALLS — Two great-great grandsons of an Ojibwa American Indian who received a 13-star flag from U.S. soldiers in the early 19th century have had their separate requests to assume guardianship of the treasured relic denied.

The Great Falls Tribune reports that District Judge Thomas McKittrick has decided to appoint a public administrator from Cascade County to open the safety deposit box where the historic flag is being kept. The judge says the administrator, who has not yet been appointed, will probably decide to display the flag publicly.

McKittrick said Tuesday the family dispute between brothers Mike and Glenn Gopher "has to come to an end."

Mike Gopher has argued the flag was given to members of the Ojibwa tribe in Minnesota, according to oral tradition passed down through the Gopher family, who he says are members of the Little Shell Band of the Chippewa tribe. He says the flag should be overseen by the Little Shell.

But Glenn Gopher says the family got the flag in Michigan and the Gophers do not belong to the Little Shell. He says the relic should remain under the guardianship of the family.

The flag was passed down to the Gophers' father, Robert Gopher, who left it to his wife, Dorothy, when he died in 1998. A decade later, Dorothy Gopher died without a known will.



January 18, 2011

Little Shell Tribal Members elect 3 new at large Tribal Council Members

From the Official Little Shell Tribal Council

PRESS RELEASE

For Release on Jan18,2011
Contact : Karlene Faulkner (406)788-0994

Council Member Election Results

The Election Committee of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe announced today the Candidates elected for the three vacant positions of Council Member. Clarence (Clancy) Sivertsen of Belt, MT, Richard Parenteau of Great Falls, MT, and Alvina (Gardipee) Allen of Great Falls, MT.

The Swearing In ceremony will be held at the Moose Lodge in Black Eagle, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011. The doors will be open at 10:00 am, we will have a potluck before the Swearing In, so bring your favorite dishes to share. There will also be a Council Meeting after the Swearing Ceremony to bring all Tribal members up to date on what is happening within the Tribe.

BR>
December 22, 2010

Little Shell Christmas toys for Little Shell Kids available Dec 22 and 23rd!!

From the Official Little Shell Tribal Council

Little Shell Tribal Children Christmas Toys!

Christmas Toys for little Shell Children can be picked up ALL DAY Dec 22nd and Dec 24th.

Office will be closed Friday so hurry!

War Shield Development
300 2nd Ave South
Great Falls, MT
Call 406-761-3377 for more info

This Christmas time generosity is a courtesy of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribal Council chaired by John Gilbert. Please help insure this is a success by calling or emailing other LST members and spreading the word.



Dec 9, 2010

Candidates for Tribal Council Positions Announced and Ballots available for Download

From the Official Little Shell Tribal Council Website

January 8, 2011 Election Ballots:

Little Shell Tribal Election, Jan8, 2010 Ballot -- PDF Format

Little Shell Tribal Election, Jan8, 2010 Ballot -- Word Format

Little Shell Tribal Election, Jan8, 2010 Ballot -- Open Document Text (ODT) Format

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
Contact: Karlene Faulkner (406) 788-0994

Little Shell Council Member Election

The Election Committee of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe announced today that an election will be held January 8, 2011, to fill the three council member positions, which will become vacant January 8, 2011.

The candidates are: Richard Parenteau of Great Falls, MT; Clarence (Clancy) Sivertsen of Belt, MT, Alvina (Gardipee) Allen of Great Falls, MT; Shirley (Powell) Bollich of Great Falls, MT. You may find and read short bios on each candidate listed on the tribal website, http://www.littleshelltribe.us.

The election will be conducted primarily as an “electronic” election, whereby ballots will be posted on-line at our tribal website. Voters can print out their ballot, fill it in, and mail it to the Election Committee by January 8, 2011. The Election Committee will have polling sites set up for those who would rather vote in person, with ballots available at the polling sites.

The counting of the ballots will be held at the Moose Lodge in Black Eagle on January 15, 2011, at 11:30 am. Tribal members and the public are encouraged to attend the ballot count, as well as the swearing-in ceremony, which will be held at the Moose Lodge on January 22, 2011. Pot luck will accompany the swearing-in ceremony.

Candidates for the Jan 8, 2011 Council Member Election

Alvina Gardipee Allen -- I am a current council member for the Little Shell Tribe, and hope to serve you for another term. I am retired from the Indian Health Service, I work for the Forrest Service part time in the summers, I am an EMT, I work for the Blaine County and Fort Belknap Ambulance service. My goals for the Little Shell Tribe are Federal Recognition, Health, Housing and Education funding. I have four children and 16 grandchildren. It would be my pleasure to continue serving the Little Shell Tribe as a Tribal Council Member.

Shirley (Powell) Bollich – In the past, I have worked for the tribe being a representative for the Full Faith and Credit under the Attorney General. I graduated from Park University and will receive my Associate Degree in Counseling. I have worked ten years for the Indian Education Department and retired from the and am now working for the Montana Education Talent Search at the state level. I would like to help the tribe get the Federal Recognition going again and to see us continue to a functional tribe and look for sources of funding so we can develop programs to help our people.

Clarence (Clancy) Sivertsen – 56 yrs of age and a graduate of Northern MT College 1981. Currently a duly elected Council member of the Little Shell Tribe. I want to get the Little Shell Tribe united again, for the members of the tribe to be able to have a Council to work for them, and to get the Federal Recognition moving forward through our Congressional Delegates. To have a permanent home for the offices of the tribe, and have them open and with personal who can and will help members with enrollment and other questions. Have an open format for tribal members to be able to have their voices heard. Thank you to all whom have helped and stood behind our efforts to get the Little Shell Tribe re-united and working for the people again.

Richard Parenteau – First of all, I like to thank all the voters who voted for me in the election this past year. Although we're still mired in a political battle over leadership within our tribe, I truly believe that much progress has been made and we are getting closer to unity for all. This is why I would appreciate you vote to continue working with the Tribal Council in helping to provide solutions to the many issues that face. This past year I retired from the Military and am now re-energized and focused to go to work for you, our membership. Megwitch, Men and women do your duty!



November 15, 2010

Tribal court could resolve Little Shell dispute

From the Associated Press Via Billings Gazette

Opposing factions within Montana's landless Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians have agreed in principle to tribal court proceedings aimed at resolving their differences.

Representatives of the two sides said Monday that details still were being worked through an intermediary, James Steele Jr., chairman of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council.

The 4,300-member tribe last year split into two groups — each with an elected council — after disagreeing on the legitimacy of prior elections. Leaders of the opposing groups said in recent interviews that an end to the dispute was crucial to keeping the Little Shell intact.

The tribe is recognized by the state of Montana but not the federal government, which last year turned down the Little Shell's 31-year petition for acknowledgment.

The tribe's members trace their ancestry to the Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians, who in the 1860s were under the leadership of Chief Little Shell when they were offered an unfair land deal that resulted in the band leaving North Dakota.

They have since struggled to stay together through more than a century of poverty and dislocation, and are now scattered across the Northern Plains and central Canada.

John Sinclair, of Havre, is president of the original tribal council, while John Gilbert is chairman of a rival council elected in March and based in Great Falls.

"This has gone on too long," Sinclair said. "If I allow a group to come in and overthrow the government the tribe would be in chaos forever. We need a court to decide."

Gilbert said his council has suggested the dispute be heard by a three-judge panel composed of members from other Montana tribes.

"It's time to bring this thing to an end and this is the only source we know," Gilbert said. "Right now the state of Montana has suspended doing business with either one of us, and that's a bad deal."

Since last year, the tribe has lost $617,000 in potential stimulus money that was to be funneled to the tribe through the state. State officials cited problems with the Little Shell's accounting practices and the lack of a unified government.

Also lost was the renewal of a tobacco prevention grant from the state that had funded at least two tribal employees.

In July, the state paid $70,000 to complete the purchase of the tribal office in Great Falls. That payment was made directly to the building's owners rather than through the Little Shell, said Kelly Casillas, an attorney with the Montana Department of Commerce.

She said the state already had spent $70,000 on the project and the tribe faced a deadline to complete the purchase or risk losing the property.

But the state has carefully avoided getting drawn into the tribe's political dispute, despite calls by some Little Shell members for Montana officials to settle the matter.

The timing of the proposed tribal court is uncertain. Gilbert said his side was pushing for resolution by the end of the year, when council elections have been scheduled by both factions.

But Sinclair said that timeline was unrealistic. A decision on which council is legitimate is unlikely before early 2011, he said.

Opposing factions within Montana's landless Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians have agreed in principle to tribal court proceedings aimed at resolving their differences.

Representatives of the two sides said Monday that details still were being worked through an intermediary, James Steele Jr., chairman of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council.

The 4,300-member tribe last year split into two groups — each with an elected council — after disagreeing on the legitimacy of prior elections. Leaders of the opposing groups said in recent interviews that an end to the dispute was crucial to keeping the Little Shell intact.

The tribe is recognized by the state of Montana but not the federal government, which last year turned down the Little Shell's 31-year petition for acknowledgment.

The tribe's members trace their ancestry to the Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians, who in the 1860s were under the leadership of Chief Little Shell when they were offered an unfair land deal that resulted in the band leaving North Dakota.

They have since struggled to stay together through more than a century of poverty and dislocation, and are now scattered across the Northern Plains and central Canada.

John Sinclair, of Havre, is president of the original tribal council, while John Gilbert is chairman of a rival council elected in March and based in Great Falls.

"This has gone on too long," Sinclair said. "If I allow a group to come in and overthrow the government the tribe would be in chaos forever. We need a court to decide."

Gilbert said his council has suggested the dispute be heard by a three-judge panel composed of members from other Montana tribes.

"It's time to bring this thing to an end and this is the only source we know," Gilbert said. "Right now the state of Montana has suspended doing business with either one of us, and that's a bad deal."

Since last year, the tribe has lost $617,000 in potential stimulus money that was to be funneled to the tribe through the state. State officials cited problems with the Little Shell's accounting practices and the lack of a unified government.

Also lost was the renewal of a tobacco prevention grant from the state that had funded at least two tribal employees.

In July, the state paid $70,000 to complete the purchase of the tribal office in Great Falls. That payment was made directly to the building's owners rather than through the Little Shell, said Kelly Casillas, an attorney with the Montana Department of Commerce.

She said the state already had spent $70,000 on the project and the tribe faced a deadline to complete the purchase or risk losing the property.

But the state has carefully avoided getting drawn into the tribe's political dispute, despite calls by some Little Shell members for Montana officials to settle the matter.

The timing of the proposed tribal court is uncertain. Gilbert said his side was pushing for resolution by the end of the year, when council elections have been scheduled by both factions.

But Sinclair said that timeline was unrealistic. A decision on which council is legitimate is unlikely before early 2011, he said.



November 9, 2010

Sons split over fate of historic 13-star flag

From the Billings Gazette


Dorothy Gopher died as the last legal guardian of a rare U.S. flag gifted to her ancestors nearly 200 years ago, and her sons are now split over who should assume guardianship of the treasured relic.

The family dispute, split between brothers Mike and Glenn Gopher, found its way into the court of District Judge Thomas McKittrick in a heated hearing that produced bitter arguments but little resolution.

McKittrick said he would reconvene the hearing in about a month and urged the brothers, who represented themselves in court Monday, to hire legal counsel.

The 13-star flag was given to members of the Ojibwa tribe in Minnesota by American soldiers some time in the early 19th century, according to oral tradition passed down through the Gopher family, who are members of the Little Shell band of the Chippewa tribe.

During the hearing, Mike Gopher said that his great-great-grandfather was offered the flag as an offering of peace. The Ojibwa were told that they could show the flag at U.S. forts and get guns and ammunition. It was eventually passed down to the Gophers' father, Robert Gopher, who then left it to his wife, Dorothy, in his will when he died in 1998.

Ten years later, Dorothy died with no known will, and the flag is locked in a safety deposit box in her name. Currently, her children cannot access it, and the court was asked to decide who should have the keys.

A deep rift was evident during a 15-minute break in which McKittrick suggested they try to come up with two or three guardians that they could all agree on. After they were left alone in the room, Mike and Glenn did not speak to each other while other family members conversed with each other.

In the end, no agreement could be found.

Mike's position is that guardianship of the flag is the responsibility of the band to which the Gophers belonged.

"We were entrusted with a very sacred undertaking," Mike said.

Glenn believes the flag should only be watched by the immediate Gopher family.

"She (Dorothy) left the flag to the family, not to these people," Glenn said, pointing to a group seated on Mike's side of the court.

McKittrick ended the hearing by saying that he would like for the family to come up with a resolution they all could live with.

"I can tell you that when I make a decision, oftentimes nobody agrees with me," he said.

The Monday hearing stood in stark contrast to the unity the Gophers displayed in 2004, during a special re-enactment of the peace offering between the U.S. government and their ancestors. But even then, the fate of the flag loomed in Dorothy's mind.

In a Tribune article, Dorothy was quoted as saying: "I'm not going to live forever, so my family must decide who will be its keeper now."



November 15, 2010

Little Shell Treasurer Special Election Info

Official Little Shell Tribal Council Website

Special Election-Oct. 30.2010
Secretary/Treasurer

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

Contact: Karlene Faulkner 406-788-0994

Hofeldt Elected Secretary/Treasurer of Little Shell Chippewa Tribe

The Little Shell Election Committee announced on Monday, November 8, that Betty Hofeldt (Havre) will succeed Robert Rudeseal as the newly elected Secretary Treasurer of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe.

Hofeldt garnered 76% of the total votes cast, while Shirley Bollich received the other 24%.

Hofeldt will be sworn into office on Saturday, November 13 at the Moose Lodge in Black Eagle, MT. The swearing-in ceremony will follow a potluck, which will be held at 11:30 am.

The Little Shell Election Committee also announced that three Tribal Council positions terms of office will end on January 8, 2011. Those interested in running for the three positions need to file as a candidate no later than December 1,2010.Council candidates must be an enrolled tribal member, 18 years of age and pay a filing fee of $35.00.

The deadline to file for these positions will be December 1, 2010. The election to fill the three seats will be held January 8, 2010. Polling places will be announced at a later date. After all the candidates have filed and background checks have been completed, absentee ballots may be downloaded at www.littleshelltribe.us.

All checks need to be made out to the Little Shell Election Committee, and mailed to PO Box 6373, Great Falls, Montana, 59406. Please include a small biography, which will be posted on the tribal website.

For information, please contact:

Karlene Faulkner, Election Committee Chair: (406) 788-0994



Havre Daily News Article



October 17, 2010

Ballots due for Little Shell election

From the Billings Gazette

Ballots for the secretary/treasurer of Montana’s Little Shell Chippewa Tribal Council are due no later than Oct. 30.

Two tribal members, Shirley Bollich and Betty Hofeldt, are running for the vacant position in the Great Falls-based council.

The council said in a press release that it will be an electronic election, with ballots and candidate information at www.littleshelltribe.us or www.littleshelltribe.com. Once printed and filled out, the ballots should be mailed to the election committee at P.O. Box 637, Great Falls, Mont., 59406. They will be counted in Black Eagle on Nov. 6.

While recognized by the state of Montana, the federal government denied the tribe recognition in October 2009. The tribe has since split into two opposing councils. The tribe has an estimated 4,300 members and is spread throughout central and northern Montana.

October’s election is for the Great Falls-based tribal council, which is headed by John Gilbert. The other council, out of Havre, is chaired by John Sinclair.

For more information on the election, call Karlene Faulkner at 406-788-0994, Joe Martinez at 406-452-6713 or Fran Flesch at 406-788-6194.



October 16, 2010

Two running for Little Shell treasurer

From the Great Falls Tribune

Two candidates will vie for the vacant position of secretary/treasurer on the Great Falls-based Little Shell Chippewa Tribal Council.

Betty Holfeldt and Shirley Bollich will square off in an election ending Oct 30. The position has been vacant since Bob Rudeseal resigned in July because of health reasons, according to council members.

Ballots and candidate information are available at www.littleshelltribe.com and www.littleshelltribe.us. Voters can print out the ballots, fill them in and mail them to Little Shell Election Committee, P.O. Box 6373, Great Falls, MT 59406. Ballots must be postmarked by Oct. 30. They will be counted at 1 p.m. on Nov. 6 in the Moose Lodge in Black Eagle.

The open position is on the Great Falls council, which is chaired by John Gilbert.

A Havre-based Tribal Council, chaired by John Sinclair, also exists. The Great Falls group elected its own tribal council and chairman earlier this year because some tribal members believed Sinclair's council was elected through an unconstitutional process involving delays and the disqualification of challengers.

Sinclair and his council charge that the Great Falls group had no constitutional authority to change the tribe's constitution and that it held an illegal an election, thus it is not duly elected.



Sept 28, 2010

Official Election Committee of The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana announces Special Elections info for election of new Sec/Treasurer

From the Official Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana Website

The Little Shell Tribal Council has declared that the seat of Sec/Treasurer is vacant and a special election has been ordered in accordance with the Little Shell Tribal Constitution.

Because of the short period of time the election will be conducted primarily as an "electronic" election. The ballots will be posted on this website after all the potential candidates have filed.

Persons interested in running for this position must be at least 18 yrs of age, an enrolled tribal member, pay a filing fee of $35.00 and pass a background check.

The slate of candidates will be announced by Oct, 15, 2010 and Election Day will be on Oct, 30,2010.

For more information, Please contact:
Karlene Faulkner - (406) 788-0994
Joe Martinez - (406) 452-6713
Fran Flesch - (406) 788-6194
Email: worksalldone@bresnan.net



Sept 28, 2010

Harold Ernest Gray - Long Standing Bear Chief passes away

From the Legacy.com via Great Falls Tribune Obituaries

BROWNING - Harold Ernest Gray, Long Standing Bear Chief, 68, of Browning, a longtime teacher and advocate of Indian causes, died Saturday at a Browning hospital, of heart failure and complications from diabetes. A wake is in progress at Glacier Wake Center in Browning, where a traditional Blackfeet prayer service is 2 p.m. Wednesday. Whitted Funeral Chapel of Cut Bank is in charge of arrangements.

Long Standing Bear Chief was born Nov. 9, 1941, in Browning, Mont., to Ernest and Josie (McKay) Gray. He attended Browning schools and graduated in 1960 from Browning High School. He went on to the University of Montana, where he received his bachelor's and master's degrees, and was an original founder of the Indian Students Association's Kyi Yo Club, which he named. He also attended the University of Minnesota, where he pursued a doctorate degree.

Harold spent many years as an educator. His professional career included work as a high school and college instructor, as the first director of Indian Studies at the University of Montana; director of the Chippewa Cree Tribal Research Program at Rocky Boy, Mont.; Head Start director, Browning, Mont.; and educator with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Education Department in Lame Deer, Mont. As president of Bear Chief and Associates, a consulting firm he operated with his twin brother, he provided technical assistance to many tribes, tribal programs and schools throughout the U.S.

Long Standing Bear Chief spent a great deal of his career as a freelance author, historian and traditional artist. He was often sought after by people for information and knowledge regarding tribal history, traditions and laws regarding indigenous people, their governments and their rights.

Long Standing Bear Chief taught his children to be proud of their Indian ancestry as well as to celebrate their diverse ethnic backgrounds. He was an enrolled Blackfeet but also claimed Chippewa/Cree, Mohawk, French and Scottish ancestry. But above all else, he was a fighter for indigenous causes. In his last years he worked hard on the constitutional reform for the Blackfeet Nation, seeing it as an opportunity to leave a beautiful legacy for generations to come.

Long Standing Bear Chief is survived by his six children, Nicole Gray, Dr. Ernest Gray (Denise), Elizabeth Pepion (Mike), Margaret Boyer (Bob), Alex Gray and Celina Gray; his ex-wife Susan Brown Gray, his twin brother Gerald J. Gray Sr. (Joanne); brother Darryl M. Gray (JoAnn); his sister, Marilyn F. Gray; and nine grandchildren.



Sept 28, 2010

Great Falls-based Little Shell group plans special election to pick Secretary/Treasurer

From the Great Falls Tribune

One of the two tribal governments of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe will hold a special election to fill the spot of Secretary/Treasurer next month.

The Great Falls-based Little Shell Alliance has been without someone in that position since July, when Bob Rudeseal resigned due to health reasons.

The Little Shell Tribe has had two tribal governments since March, when members of the Havre-based tribal council split and formed their own council based in Great Falls. John Gilbert was elected president of the Great Falls council and a seven-person council was chosen by mail-in ballot.

The Havre-based council, led by tribal president John Sinclair, was elected in 2009. The Great Falls-based alliance split because they said the election of Sinclair and his council was not legitimate after the election was postponed and several candidates were removed from the ballot.

Sinclair and his council do not recognize the Great Falls-based alliance, claiming their elections were illegal and not authorized by the tribal constitution.

The Great Falls-based tribal alliance voted to invite a third party to hear and rule on the dispute in August. James Steele Jr., chairman of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council originally was tapped to make the ruling, but no action has been taken so far.

Karlene Faulkner, the Great Falls-based alliance's election committee chairperson, said they are waiting on Sinclair's Havre-based council to get back to them.

"We're just waiting on Mr. Sinclair's yea or nay on whether he wants to go ahead or not," Faulkner said. Sinclair could not be reached for comment Monday.

The election to fill the Secretary/Treasurer position will be done through mail. Voters can print the ballots from the tribal website, www.littleshelltribe.us, and mail them to the election committee by Oct. 30. Potential candidates have until Oct. 11 to file.



Sept 23, 2010

Governor Schweitzer continues commitment to state-tribal relationship

From the Char-Koosta News, Official Publication of the Flathead Nation

By Lailani Upham

PABLO — Not quite a week after Governor Schweitzer and his wife Nancy made a visit to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council chambers, the Governor released a 2010 Tribal Relations Report highlighting the State of Montana and Tribal Nations' major efforts to work together during this past fiscal year.

"This report demonstrates the State of Montana's commitment to sincere and meaningful state-tribal relationships," Governor Schweitzer said. "We look forward to continuing these historic efforts and strengthening the government-to-government relationship."

During Gov. Schweitzer's visit to Flathead last week, he mentioned to the Tribal Council that there are too many filters when it comes to listening to tribal issues in Washington D.C. He said it would be good to get some of the leaders to come back to the reservations to hear first hand what the issues are.

Ronan Representative Carole Lankford immediately greeted the Governor and his wife, welcoming them to the tribal council meeting.

Arlee Representative James Steele, Jr. offered kudos to the Governor for the efforts toward the Little Shell process of becoming federally recognized tribe in the state of Montana. Steele said, although it was in a preliminary state, the process looked optimistic. Governor Schweitzer stated in an article in the Great Falls Tribune back in March, said, when asked whether the state of Montana would recognize the Little Shell tribal government, Schweitzer replied, "The Little Shell are recognized as a sovereign tribe by the state, and they occupy a dignified and central place in the history of Montana and the Northern Plains." The statement continues, "The Governor's Office believes that the Little Shell, as a sovereign tribe, can and must resolve its internal differences without interference from state government."

After the welcoming, Chairman E.T. "Bud" Moran opened the floor up to comments from the audience. DHRD Director, Arlene Templer was the first to thank the Governor for funding received for the DHRD transportation to build shelters for bus stops and purchase new busses for a larger clientele on the reservation.

CSKT Tribal Attorney John Harrison thanked the Governor and the Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks for working with the Tribes on bison hunting rights in Yellowstone. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of Montana and the Nez Perce of Idaho have federal treaty rights allowing them to hunt off their reservations. Montana acknowledges the rights of the Nez Perce and the Salish-Kootenai to hunt according to the provisions of their treaties. The treaty language allows tribal members to hunt only on "open and unclaimed" land, which land managers and tribes have agreed means national forest and Bureau of Land Management lands. Tribal game wardens travel to the Yellowstone area to enforce those rules.

In response to the bison issue the Governor assured the Tribes that the legal position and historical rights for the Tribes are to remain respected.

The recent Tribal Report states many activities and contributions of American Indian appointees who share their expertise as members of the boards, councils and commissions. The members' active participation expands the ability to reach all of Montana.

According to the Report, there were more than 650 cooperative agreements, trainings, projects and collaborative efforts in effect between the state and the eight tribal governments in Montana during fiscal year 2010, covering every aspect of governmental operations, including economic development; the delivery of human services; environmental stewardship; cooperation on finance and justice issues; and education.

This year's report is a result of a 2003 state law sponsored by Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy.

The full text of the report is available online at http://tribalnations.mt.gov.



Sept 5, 2010

Little Shell meeting postponed until chairman can attend

From the Great Falls Tribune

By Great Falls Tribune Staff

A meeting that had been scheduled Saturday to see whether one of two factions of the Little Shell's tribal government would participate in a third-party resolution of the governmental dispute has been postponed.

John Sinclair, president of the Havre-based Little Shell tribal government, said James Steele Jr., chairman of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council, was in Washington, D.C., and unable to make the meeting. He asked if the meeting could be postponed, according to Sinclair.

Sinclair said a new date for the meeting has not been scheduled.

The Great Falls-based Little Shell Tribal Council previously agreed to allow Steele to mediate the dispute between the two groups. Saturday's meeting had been scheduled to see whether members of the Havre-based group would agree to mediation.

The tribe has had two separate elected councils since March. Since then, each council has alleged that other side's elections are not legitimate. The Great Falls council has accused Sinclair of improperly postponing an election and then disqualifying opponents on the ballots. Meanwhile, Sinclair has said the Great Falls group did not have the authority to hold tribal elections, making its election illegal.

The state of Montana, which has recognized the tribe, has suspended business with the Little Shell, including the funding it provides, until the governments resolve their dispute and declare one government to be the official representative of the tribe.

The Little Shell Tribe is not federally recognized.



August 15, 2010

Little Shell Chippewa Tribe dispute may go before third party

By Alex Grubb (KRTV-3 Great Falls)

Steps are being taken to try and resolve a long-standing dispute over leadership in the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe.

The Little Shell Alliance held a meeting Saturday where they unanimously asked for help to try and resolve their issues.

James Steele, Jr. is the Chairman of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council and has strong ties to the tribe.

"It kind of hurts to see your grandfather's tribe at an impasse. And in my role as Chairman of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council, I felt like I needed to try... something," Steele said.

Having a third party resolve a dispute might seem like a no-brainer. But for the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council to help settle the leadership dispute within the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe is incredibly rare.

"This is not something the Tribal Leaders Council does, ever," Steele said. "Other tribes have internal courts and constitutional courts and election boards that can sort these things out."

There are big incentives to figure it out. Along with losing their federal recognition, the state has decided to withhold funding from the tribe until the leadership dispute is settled.

The Little Shell Alliance unanimously passed a resolution asking the Tribal Leaders Council to help.

The resolution asks the Tribal Leaders Council to act as a neutral third party and decide how the tribe should proceed. A panel will be made up of tribal judges from other tribes.

"This, in my opinion, would primarily look at the legitimacy of the government. Which council is the legitimate government or maybe this body decides there needs to be a new election," Steele said.

At this point, nothing is certain about how the process will work but Steele says preliminary talks have indicated both groups want the ultimate decision to be binding.

John Gilbert, the Chairman of the Little Shell Alliance, is optimistic about finally putting the dispute behind them.

"We don't need any more negative publicity. We're tired of it. We want something good to come out of things anymore," Gilbert said. "We want to be able to go forward with a smile and feel good about ourselves and say, 'Hey, we are the little shell people, we're the little shell tribe,' and our membership needs some good news."

The Tribal Leaders Council won't intervene unless both sides agree.

Steele says he plans to meet with Tribal President John Sinclair and his group next month.



August 15, 2010

Great Falls group seeks addition to tribal council

From the Great Falls Tribune- by the Tribune Staff

The Great Falls-based Little Shell Tribal Council chaired by John Gilbert is looking for a new member

Gilbert said Saturday, during the council's quarterly meeting, that council Secretary-Treasurer Robert Rudeseal has submitted his resignation, citing his health, stress and a "Political problem."

"We left on good terms," Gilbert Added.

Under its bylaws, the council has 30 days to conduct an election to fill the vacated seat on the council.

Tribal Chief of Staff James Parker Shield said the Elders Council will have to authorize an election, with the same Election Committee members who conducted the March Election conducting the Special election.

Gilbert said tribal members interested in sitting on the council should call (406)590-1745

WEBMASTER NOTE: James Shield has misquoted our tribal constitution. Article I, Sec V says "...the Executive Committee shall declare the position vacant and call a district special election to fill the vacancy". The new amendment to the Constitution that requires the Elder's Council is only triggered when there is NO Tribal council in existance, as was the case at the end of 2008 when the council went beyond it's term limits and basically disolved the Tribal Council, the elder's council was then required to declare that no council existed and a special election must be held within 30 days to reconstitute the council.



August 15, 2010

Dueling Little Shell councils turn to independent panel for conflict resolution

From the Great Falls Tribune

By RYAN HALL
Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

One of the two Little Shell tribal councils agreed Saturday to allow a neutral third party to hear the dispute and make a binding determination on which council, if any, is the legitimate governing body of the tribe.

The Great Falls-based tribal council, chaired by John Gilbert, voted 6-0 to invite the Montana- Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council to establish and conduct a judges panel to hear and rule on the dispute.

The tribe has had two councils since March. The Havre-based tribal council, chaired by President John Sinclair, was elected in May 2009. Several tribal members then formed the Little Shell Alliance, which held its own election in March. In that election, Gilbert was elected chairman and a seven- person council was chosen by mail-in ballot. The Alliance believes Sinclair and his council were not duly elected because the election was postponed and several candidates were removed from the ballot. Sinclair and his council do not recognize the council elected in March, saying the election was illegal and not authorized by the tribe or its constitution.

Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council Chairman James Steele Jr., who made a presentation prior to the vote Saturday, said his council rarely gets involved in internal matters but the Little Shell's lack of a tribal court leaves the tribe without an avenue to resolve the dispute internally.

"This is not something the Tribal Leaders Council does — ever," Steele said. "It's an internal matter. It's not in the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council's business to get involved."

"We wish we would have a means to settle our disputes internally," Gilbert said. "It's very, very awkward."

"We're at a stalemate and virtually going nowhere at a time when we need to be going somewhere," an audience member told Steele.

Gilbert said the state, which has recognized the tribe, has suspended all business with the Little Shell, including providing funding, until the governmental dispute is resolved. The federal government won't get involved because the tribe is not federally recognized.

"We're stuck in limbo," Gilbert said.

Steele, a council member for the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes, said the Little Shell's situation hit close to home for him because his grandfather was an enrolled member of the tribe.

"It didn't feel good," he said of hearing of the spilt. "It kind of hurts to see your grandfather's tribe at an impasse."

Steele said the proposed judges panel solution, which he said is like a "Supreme Court, if you will" is "very preliminary and very delicate." Now that he has a council-approved invitation to conduct the panel, Steele will next make a presentation to Sinclair's council on Sept. 4. If that council also votes to allow the panel to make a binding decision, then Steele will present the idea to the Tribal Leaders Council on Sept. 16 in Billings.

Sinclair could not be reached for comment Saturday, but Steele said he has spoken with the tribal president and "he's very agreeable to the process.

"He very clearly indicated to me that he wants a fair process for both sides," Steele said.

"We want to do what we can to help this process — one of our members is in turmoil," Steele added, noting that the Tribal Leaders Council would remain neutral and not endorse either Little Shell council.

He said that if both Little Shell councils agree to the process and the leaders council agrees to set up the panel, the groups will next have to agree on rules of engagement. He said the panel will involve more than one or two but no more than five tribal court, tribal appellate or tribal supreme court judges from member nations on Montana's reservations.

Steele said that because this would be the first time the leaders council set up such a panel, the process would take time.

"Before the end of the year would be my hope," he said on when the panel may be conducted. "It's going to take time, it won't be fast. (But), I'm not anticipating years and years."

Steele said that if the panel is conducted, it will be constituted to look solely at the legitimacy of the councils, not alleged criminal conduct. Both Sinclair and Gilbert have accused the opposing council of illegal and/or unconstitutional conduct.

Steele said the panel could make a binding decision on which council is the legitimate one and is authorized to conduct tribal business, or it could order a new election entirely.



August 13, 2010

Little Shell Tribal Council to discuss resolution

From the Great Falls Tribune

The Great Falls-based Little Shell Tribal Council will discuss a possible "vehicle" to achieving resolution between the tribe's two councils.

The group, led by Chairman John Gilbert, holds its monthly meeting at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Moose Lodge in Black Eagle. Gilbert said that at that meeting Wyoming-Montana Tribal Leader Council Chairman James Steele Jr. will present a method for possibly resolving the differences between Gilbert's council and the Havre-based council of Chairman John Sinclair.

Gilbert's group believes Sinclair and his council were not duly elected because the scheduled tribal election was postponed and some candidates were removed from the ballot. Sinclair and his council say Gilbert's group held an illegal election and therefore are not a legitimate council.

Gilbert said the state has suspended all business with the tribe, including funding, until the leadership issue is resolved.

"The issue has to be resolved one way or the other, and I think John Sinclair and his council feels the same way," Gilbert said.

He also said the current setup has hurt the tribe and divided membership.

"Nobody's winning," he said, adding that he believes the tribal membership will come together once a resolution is reached.

Sinclair said Thursday that it was too early to comment on any proposal to resolve the council's disputes. Steele could not be reached for comment.



June 15, 2010

Former Little Shell Chairman closes office in Great Falls

From the Great Falls Tribune

Little Shell tribal matters are being handled in Havre after the tribe's Great Falls office was closed recently.

The move was a security measure spurred by a funding dispute between the tribe and state officials, according to Tribal President John Sinclair. He said the state is withholding grants tabbed for the tribe that would pay for office staff to be in the Great Falls office at 1626 6th Ave. N.

Without funding, the office has been vacant and unsecured.

Sinclair hopes to re-open the Great Falls office by working with the state to release the funds. The tribe's home office is now at 2229 5th Ave., Suite 104 in Havre. One person is staffing the office.

Enrollment was being done at the Great Falls office, among other functions, but Sinclair was confident that would continue in Havre. The tribe had been holding most of its meetings in Havre long before the move.

Concerns about the tribe's accounting practices led state officials to withhold $200,000 in stimulus funds marked for the Little Shell, along with a $70,000 grant from the Montana Department of Commerce.

The department previously stated that the $70,000 would go directly to the purchase the tribe's Great Falls office, not to the tribe or its nonprofit.

Commerce Department spokeswoman Marissa Kozel said the department is continuing to withhold the stimulus and grant funds because "the department still has unanswered questions" but she declined to elaborate further. John Gilbert, chairman of a rival tribal council within the tribe, stated in a news release last week that Great Falls is the tribe's headquarters and has the largest population of Little Shell tribal members.

"Additionally, Great Falls city government and Cascade County government have been strong supporters of our tribe's quest for federal recognition," Gilbert said.

Funding problems are the primary reason for the move, Gilbert said. But he also alleged that the move could have been in part the result of the split within the tribe between Sinclair's tribal leadership and those supporting the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance.

Gilbert stated that his tribal council intends to maintain the tribe's headquarters in Great Falls. "It is a sad situation that we don't have our Little Shell tribal headquarters here anymore," Gilbert said.

Sinclair blamed the infighting for "muddying the waters" and contributing to the state withholding funding for the tribe and endangering future projects.

The state's commerce and health and human services departments audited the tribe last year to ensure state grants were being managed properly but instead uncovered sloppy bookkeeping that could lead to financial abuse. The tribe had also misspent past grants, the audits said.

This led to state agencies withholding nearly $900,000 in grants and the stimulus funds from the tribe because of concerns with the tribe's accounting.

That total included a tobacco use prevention grant and the commerce department grant.

Reach Tribune Staff Writer Travis Coleman at 791-1462 or tcoleman@greatfallstribune.com

Webmaster Note: The Author of the "Havre Daily Corrector" has this to say about the latest shenighans by Ex-Chairman Sinclair, I think the opinion speaks for the feelings of ALL Little Shell Tribal Members.:

"The Corrector thinks something smells fishy here. Does anyone recall the story earlier this year where the Governor “took back” the Tribes tobacco education funding because it was being used inappropriately to finance the Great Falls office and other fraudulent spending? It appears if there is going to be dissention between the two tribal factions with one group calling for an audit of the books; the best remedy is to just hide the records in a new office in Havre"



April 29, 2010

Little Shell Tribal Council Holds Quarterly meeting May 1

From Little Shell Tribe Official Website

The Newly Constitutionally Elected Little Shell Tribal Council has announced that it is holding it's first Quarterly meeting on May 1, 2010, 2pm to 4pm at the Moose Lodge in Black Eagle, MT. They have posted the Agenda at their official website at: HTTP://www.LittleShellTribe.us.

Here is a copy of the agenda:

  • Call to Order
  • Prayer
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of Minutes (Not applicable at this time)
  • Treasurers Report
  • Committee Reports: (Not applicable at this time; to be established)
    • Enrollment
    • Federal Recognition
    • Education
    • Health
    • Claims Commission
    • Ways and Means
    Old Business (Not applicable at this time) New Business:
    • Election Certification
    • Suspend Previous Councils Ordinances/Resolutions
    • Set Tribal Council Meeting dates (State/Special)
    • Reinstate tribal committees/appointment delegation
    • Resolutions creating Officers (CEO/SAA)
    • Appointments:
      • 1.Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
      • 2.Sergeant at Arms (SAA)
    • Benefis Native American Board Resolution
    • Tribal Council Training/Workshops
    • Legislative Hearings
    • Montana/Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council
    • Tribal Court
    • University of Montana, Native American Center dedication
  • Public Comment
  • Adjournment



April 7, 2010

War Paint' census tour in Great Falls

From 2010 Denver Tribal Census Tour Blog

An earnest effort to encourage the Rocky Mountain region's Native American population to fill out census forms and be counted during this year's tabulation effort brought the "War Paint" tour to Great Falls on Saturday.

The 2010 Census Denver Region Tribal Road Tour, nicknamed War Paint, complete with a bright yellow and orange vehicle with feathers and an eagle painted on it, is stopping on reservations and in towns with large populations of urban Indians in an effort to inform them about the importance of being counted. Saturday's stop was at the Great Falls Housing complex on Chowen Springs Loop.

Johnel Barcus, tribal partnership specialist for the Denver Regional Census Center, said the response among Native Americans in Montana has been impressive so far.

"We're doing really good," she said.

Since Montana's reservations opted to have residents counted through a door-to-door method that began March 22, the goal of the tour's stops in the state is to let people know that the census process is safe, important and easy. The 10-question form is the key to getting funding for Native American communities, Barcus said. Susie Aikman, the producer and driver for the Denver Regional Tribal Road Tour, said that many Native Americans she has talked since the tour began Feb. 8 have been receptive to filling out the form.

"Mostly positive," she said of the reception she has received. "They understand that this is important to get federal dollars that Native people have been left out of for 500 years."

Both Aikman and Barcus said that Native Americans are traditionally grossly undercounted in the census, which is conducted every 10 years to determine the country's population, the appropriation of House seats and the disbursement of federal dollars.

Barcus said that in addition to teaching people about the importance of the Census, the tour helps Native Americans learn how to properly fill out the form. One of the crucial elements is that after marking the box by "American Indian or Alaska Native" under question nine, which asks for the respondent's race, Native Americans should write in any and all tribes they belong to. She noted that though the Little Shell tribe based in Great Falls is not federally recognized, it is recognized as a tribe for census purposes.

Aikman said that as she travels the region and teaches people about the census, she learns how Native Americans live on various reservations in different states. She already has logged more than 6,000 miles in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Montana.

"We've been in sandstorms, snowstorms, rainstorms — we've got caught in a cattle drive," she said, laughing.

"It has been exciting and exhausting," Aikman added. "It's been an opportunity of a lifetime."



April 3, 2010

Snippets from a 1965 meeting of Little Shell Chippewa

From The Grand Forks Herald

Chuck Haga
Grand Forks Herald

Rancor and disputations over Chippewa (Ojibwe) land cessions to the United States have gone on since the treaties were signed. From minutes of a meeting of about 20 Little Shell Chippewa held at the home of Joe Great Walker on Dec. 20, 1965:

“We Indians were always afraid to get ourselves into a trap or snare of some kind due to poor education and not completely understanding the white man’s politics. Our late Chief Little Shell was given a fraud deal (in 1892) and the claims still belong to Pierre Little Shell, his son, and us Indians. By getting together and (getting) a little more in our group, it will be easier to get justice.”
— Charlie Cree Jr.
(great-uncle to Delvin Cree)

“Never much did a white man help the Indians. Never did we hear of any Abraham Lincolns for the Indians. We have land. On the west are many oil wells, toward the south are many grain fields, and to the east is the garden of the north which is called the Red River Valley. We must keep together like one, because we are in great poverty.”
— Sam Standing Chief

“This is a lifetime job that we are working on for generations to come.”
— Peter Oneside

“It is true we are not many. … Time is coming when there will not be but two or three of us. We are the last of the full-blood, less than 100 of us grownups. We might be small, yet we can be big if we stay together and work together and we can get someplace for a better life. Yes, we are small, but big is our God who rules the universe.”
— Jim Ka-ke-na-wash

“Yes, my father (had) 10 million acres in his borders, and (much) red man’s blood was given to hold this land from the Sioux. It was my father who was here when the white man came. I’m still waiting for justice from the white man. There is much justice in our creator’s work, and we are the work of our creator: red men, white men, black men and the yellow race. Justice we all need.”
— Pierre Little Shell



April 3, 2010

A matter of identity

From The Grand Forks Herald

Chuck Haga
Grand Forks Herald

They are few in number. They are scattered. The history they share, more or less, is splintered and disputed.

But some Turtle Mountain descendants and admirers of the late-19th century Chippewa Chief Little Shell, who walked away from what he considered an unjust land settlement offered by the United States in 1892, believe they have an identity all their own.

“We want to be a separate entity of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, with our own self-determination,” said Delvin Cree of Dunseith, N.D., who says he is a fifth-generation descendant of Little Shell.

Cree and other blood descendants of the chief and his followers, numbering a few hundred in North Dakota and perhaps a few thousand around the country, want federal recognition as a distinct Indian tribe, he said. They seek a share of treaty funds and their own land base.

It’s not likely to happen, said Richard Marcellais, the elected chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band.

“He’d have to be recognized as a separate tribe by the federal government,” he said. “It’s a long, drawn-out process, and I don’t know how many people would want to follow him.”

As to Cree’s claim that the hereditary chieftainship remains in his family, “we have no position for that (a chief) in our tribal government,” the chairman said.

Marcellais, who also is a state senator, said that about 800 members of the Turtle Mountain Band live at Trenton, N.D., southwest of Williston near the Montana border, and some there “want to break off as a separate tribe, too. But they’ve been trying for years.”

A heroic symbol

Within the Ojibwe (Chippewa) family, Cree and his associates are a faction of a faction, one of many groups claiming Chief Little Shell as a heroic forbear.

The federally recognized band, with its reservation in north-central North Dakota, uses an image of Little Shell on its Web site, letterhead and license plates.

In Montana, a landless and scattered group calling itself the Little Shell Tribe of Montana continues a century-long struggle for recognition by the U.S. government.

The old chief’s name also has been used by a splinter group tagged by the Anti-Defamation League as an extremist organization.

According to the ADL, the so-called Little Shell Pembina Band of North America — disavowed by the Turtle Mountain Band — ran afoul of the law in Florida and other states in 2004 for offering to sell tribal memberships to undocumented immigrants, a sort of red “green card.” No Ojibwe or other Indian blood was required.

Cree said his people have “no connection at all” to the group, which appears to have faded. “We have no part in that kind of anti-government behavior.”

Cree’s grandfather, the late Francis Cree, fought a long battle over treaty decisions as they applied — or didn’t apply — to the Little Shell people of the Turtle Mountains. He went to Washington to plead the case to senators and met with President John F. Kennedy.

Francis Cree was a party to lawsuits filed in federal court in 1992 alleging government mismanagement of funds due the Chippewa from the 1863 Old Crossing Treaty, which also involved the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, and the 1892 agreement. He died in 2007, but the legal actions continue.

Delvin Cree and relatives say they hold documents which establish their family’s claim to the hereditary chieftainship of the Turtle Mountain tribe. “The chieftainship continues,” Cree said. The tribal government in Belcourt, N.D., “is not a legal government.”

His has been a shoestring crusade. Last month, denied travel assistance by the Turtle Mountain Band’s council, Cree raised money for a trip to Washington by raffling traditional willow baby baskets, selling homemade fry bread and chili and asking friends for help with gas. (Chairman Marcellais, who was in Washington at the same time, said he helped a member of Cree’s party return to North Dakota after she apparently had a falling out with Cree.)

Introducing himself as a member of the Little Shell Nation Grand Council, Cree met on March 1 with Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and with staff members of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which Dorgan chairs.

Dorgan had to speak at the National Congress of American Indians and left the meeting at his office before the Little Shell issue came up, Cree and a Senate staff member said, but the senator and Cree discussed a poverty reduction project and other Turtle Mountain issues.

In Montana, a plea for recognition

The Montana Little Shell also trace their drive for recognition to 1863 and the Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians’ signing of the Old Crossing Treaty.

In 1892, after mass immigration and settlement of Indian lands, a government commission led by Porter J. McCumber (a future U.S. senator from North Dakota), negotiated a further land deal that restricted the Ojibwe to the present reservation in north-central North Dakota.

Chief Little Shell refused to accept the terms, including the government’s offer of 10 cents an acre for 10 million acres of prime farming land, and his people were left out of the settlement.

Little Shell died in 1901. His people have argued since that the government brokered the 1892 deal with illegitimate interests, including Canadian and Minnesota Indians and non-Indians. (One thing uniting the factions: the ongoing effort to negotiate a settlement for alleged mishandling of Indian trust funds by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.)

After the McCumber agreement, Little Shell’s people wandered the Northern Plains, hunting the dwindling buffalo herds until finally settling — individually and by small family groups — in towns and on other tribes’ reservations across Montana and adjacent states and provinces. They have no reservation of their own.

For decades, they pleaded for state and federal recognition, which might bring a land base and protections for a fading culture. Montana formally recognized the Little Shell people there in 2000, which allowed them to apply for state economic development grants and other benefits.

But after the petition for federal recognition was filed in 1978, the United States stalled — until October 2009, when the U.S. Department of Interior finally gave a clear answer: No.

Federal authorities cited the “tribe’s” scattered, landless membership, about 4,300 people spread across Montana and neighboring areas, a lack of “cohesion” and a history of intermarriage with non-Indians and members of other tribes.

But that is who and what we are, the Montana Little Shell said, vowing to press their claim in Congress, where a bill to extend federal recognition has been introduced by a Montana senator and assigned to Dorgan’s committee.

The Little Shell people embrace their mixed-race heritage. Like the Chippewa of Turtle Mountain, many call themselves Metis, and many bear surnames of French origin. Others claim ancestors with such far-flung origins as Syria, Lebanon, Mexico and Scotland. The Little Shell tribal song is the Red River Jig, played on a fiddle.

“People look at us and say, ‘You’re not Indian,’ ” Chairman John Sinclair told the Associated Press in 2008 as the band waited for Interior’s decision. “We say, ‘We’re not. We’re Little Shell.’ ”

When the negative decision came last fall, elder Roger Salois, 72, struggled to explain how he felt. “You have your community and your place to go,” he told a reporter. “We don’t have that. But we’re still together, and we’re still Little Shell.”

And they still are breaking into factions.

Last week, tribal members unhappy with Chairman Sinclair and his council “elected” a new chairman and council. Sinclair did not take part and refuses to acknowledge the special election. The challenge was due to “personal vendettas … false allegations and distortions,” he said, adding that the internal dispute “hurts the tribe’s chance to gain long-awaited federal recognition.”

No relationship

Despite the name, there appears to be little enduring connection between the Montana Little Shell and those in North Dakota who claim to be the old chief’s blood kin. But many families still have ties across the divide, Turtle Mountain Chairman Marcellais said

“There is no relationship,” Delvin Cree said. “We have made two requests to meet with Mr. John Sinclair and his council in the past few months, and they have never responded.

“We believe we are (perceived as) a threat to their organization,” he said, because Sinclair and his people are kin to followers of Louis Riel, the Metis leader who led the Red River Rebellion of 1869-70 and the Northwest Rebellion of 1885, which ended with his execution for treason.

“When Louis Riel was hanged in Canada, his descendants came to the United States,” Cree said, “and took refuge within the Little Shell Band.”

On the Web:
- Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians: www.tmbci.net/
- Little Shell history: http://tinyurl.com/yd2sgwb
- History, culture of Turtle Mountain Band (pdf): http://tinyurl.com/y8cqp5q
- Anti-Defamation League on Little Shell Pembina Band: http://tinyurl.com/ybjxype

Reach Haga at (701) 780-1102; (800) 477-6572, ext. 102; or send e-mail to chaga@gfherald.com.



April 3, 2010

Chief Little Shell and his Band

From The Grand Forks Herald

Chuck Haga
Grand Forks Herald

Chief Little Shell, who traced his chieftain bloodline to the 1700s, was among Ojibwe leaders who signed the Old Crossing Treaty near Red Lake Falls, Minn., in 1863, surrendering rights to land in Minnesota and a strip of land in North Dakota along the Red River.

But those concessions “did little to relieve the pressure of homesteaders marching westward faster than treaties could be negotiated,” according to arguments advanced by attorneys representing the Ojibwe. Since the 1960s, the Turtle Mountain Band and others have brought actions in federal courts and before the Indian Claims Commission, seeking an accounting of money promised to them but never paid.

“After 1863, as the settlement drama unfolded, the government’s response was to apply pressure to Little Shell and his Band in an attempt to get them to give up their land voluntarily and to go settle on a reservation,” according to arguments made several years ago before the Indian Claims Commission.

“Chief Little Shell was not interested in doing so. His Band had become (one of) nomadic hunters, fishers and trappers, and they did not want to ‘settle down’ and be confined to some tiny area on the Plains.”

But on Oct. 4, 1882, the government officially opened to white settlement 9 million acres of land claimed by the Pembina Band. For the Indians, the government created a small reservation of 46,000 acres, about two townships, and promised help with food and shelter.

Some members of the Pembina Band, realizing that wild game was disappearing on the Great Plains, went to the reservation. Little Shell refused, asking instead for a reservation of a half-million acres — nearly 30 miles by 30 miles — in the Turtle Mountain area.

Attached

to home

The government persisted, according to an 1892 U.S. Senate report:

“Attempts were also made by the government to secure the consent of these Indians for their removal to some other reservation,” Fort Berthold in North Dakota or possibly White Earth in Minnesota. “The said band seemed greatly attached to their home, and no amount of persuasion could induce them to remove.”

That led to creation of a federal commission, led by Porter J. McCumber, a future U.S. senator from North Dakota, which met the Indians at Belcourt, N.D., on Sept, 21, 1892.

The commission offered 10 cents an acre for roughly 10 million acres. Little Shell insisted on more money per acre and wanted to retain far more land. When McCumber refused to budge, Little Shell and his people got up and walked out.

The commission collected 32 other Ojibwe from the surrounding area, who in time signed what came to be known as the McCumber Agreement or “the 10-cent treaty.”

The Little Shell diaspora continued. Pembina Chippewa who accepted the McCumber agreement became enrolled members of the federally recognized Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. Some Little Shell followers eventually settled in the area, too, and some of those people attempted to maintain the Little Shell Grand Council as a governing entity, leading to occasional friction with official tribal officers. Others went west.

“At one point, just as had been done to the Cherokee in the 1830s, the government ‘relocated’ a group of Little Shell by loading them onto railroad boxcars and hauling them to a point along the northern border of Montana, where they were dumped off,” according to the historical overview submitted by Little Shell attorneys to the claims commission.

Descendants of those banished members still live there today. They became the Little Shell of Montana.

Reach Haga at (701) 780-1102; (800) 477-6572, ext. 102; or send e-mail to chaga@gfherald.com.



March 28, 2010

Great Falls Tribune Opinion: Little Shell's leadership problems are their own to solve

From The Great Falls Tribune

Opinion of the Tribune

The Little Shell people will have to pick their own government leadership.

That's what Gov. Brian Schweitzer said last week when asked whether the state of Montana would recognize the Little Shell tribal government headed by John Sinclair or the Little Shell government headed by John Gilbert.

"The Little Shell are recognized as a sovereign Tribe by the state, and they occupy a dignified and central place in the history of Montana and the Northern Plains," reads a statement issued by Schweitzer's office. "The Governor's Office believes that the Little Shell, as a sovereign Tribe, can and must resolve its internal differences without interference from state government."

We strongly agree.

If history is an indicator, the process of making that choice will include more debate and a fair amount of resentment from the "side," not chosen.

What important, critical public policy decisions don't?

But as the Governor's office said, the decision rests solely with the stakeholders, who in this case are the people of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

The tribe is recognized by the state of Montana, but it was denied federal recognition last fall by the Office of Federal Acknowledgement.

The Little Shell people started seeking recognition in the 1860s, when a small band of Native Americans lead by Chief Little Shell was cut out of a treaty signed by federal authorities.

Chief Little Shell's descendants were forced into Canada. The tribe later moved south into Montana. Some members of that tribe where among the residents of the area of Great Falls known as Hill 57.

The Little Shell first filed a federal recognition petition with the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1978. Federal recognition could lead to health care and housing benefits, along with other services available to federally recognized tribes. There are efforts now, including legislation introduced by Montana's Congressional delegation, to continue to work to gain federal recognition for the Little Shell tribe.

At the same time, there is an internal fight for leadership among the tribe's people. During an election held in May, Sinclair was voted in as president. Since then, there was a referendum and another election. During the next election, John Gilbert was elected president.

The struggle now is to determine which election's results have authority for the Little Shell tribal members. That determination will need to be made by those members.

The struggle itself is newsworthy and historical. The Tribune will continue to report on the progression of events as the Little Shell people work toward a resolution.

As far as taking sides, we aren't. It seems there is more work to be done, internally, to create rules and processes that will result in a final determination of leadership.

One thing the Tribune will continue to support, however, is the Little Shell's quest for federal recognition. The work happening now on internal tribal policies and election rules will serve to further that effort.



March 27, 2010

Splintered Montana tribe struggles against history

From Associated Press via the Billings Gazette

By Matt Brown
Associated Press Writer

In their centurylong battle against history, Montana's Little Shell Indians have been denied a homeland, deported to Canada and forced to live in rural shanty towns because whites and other Native Americans rejected them.

Now the scattered Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa faces possibly the biggest test of its resilience: After the government denied federal recognition last fall, political infighting has split the tribe's 4,300 members and left them at risk of cultural disintegration if they cannot settle on a common destiny.

"If all this continues, I don't know what the future will be," said tribal member Patricia Maki, 69, who runs an Indian education program in Great Falls. She said the tribe needs to do some healing, but isn't hopeful it will come anytime soon.

Maki is part of the faction that blames the upheaval on tribal president John Sinclair, a 54-year-old plow operator for the state Transportation Department.

Those detractors say Sinclair's leadership style - which they called autocratic - undercut the recognition petition just as that 31-year effort came to a head. As an example, they cite his decision to unenroll members of the opposition in the run-up to his re-election last year.

Opponents held an election earlier this month, choosing as their chairman Great Falls businessman John Gilbert.

Sinclair meanwhile says some of his chief critics lack the blood quantum to qualify as tribal members.

He issued warnings that voters in the rogue election could become victims of identity theft. And he charged the opposition, the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance, with stealing tribal enrollment documents.

His opponents also hold Sinclair responsible for the recent suspension of almost $900,000 in grants and stimulus money for the tribe. State audits determined Sinclair and his staff had failed to properly account for past spending.

The loss of funds forced the tribe to cut back from five employees to just one.

Sinclair acknowledges mistakes, but says his opponents are risking any chance at sovereignty for the tribe through their appeals for outside intervention. If any government entity stepped in, he said, it would be a "death knell" for the tribe.

Arlinda Locklear, a Washington, D.C. attorney assisting the tribe with its federal recognition effort, said it's no surprise the Little Shell looked inward for blame after losing their recognition bid.

But she said the real culprit was the Department of Interior, which issued the October denial. That sentiment was shared by Jack Campisi, a retired Wellesley College professor and expert on the federal recognition process.

"It's the government that screwed up this one," he said.

Campisi worked with the Little Shell on the early stages of their petition. He said bureaucrats within Interior did not know what to make of the Little Shell's nomadic history, which lacked the paper trail the government relies on for recognition decisions.

"The Little Shell is a tragedy. They continued to operate as a people who are not locked to one piece of land and that's been held against them," Campisi said.

Interior officials said recognition parameters set by Congress compelled the agency to reject the Little Shell - even though the tribe met most of the government's criteria.

The tribe's ancestors, led by Chief Little Shell, were followers of the great bison herds that once roamed much of North America.

That was before large numbers of European settlers arrived on the Great Plains in the 1800s. By the close of the century bison were nearly extinct and the U.S. government was drawing lines on the map to confine Plains Indians to reservations.

When related bands of Chippewa struck a treaty with the government, Chief Little Shell and his followers were carved out. They wandered west, eventually settling in small towns and reservations across Montana.

Anthropologists who study the Little Shell say its nomadic traditions helped the tribe's members stay connected over vast distances. But those distances also worked against the tribe, including when members intermarried with Canadian fur trappers after being deported to Canada.

As a result, tribal members were rejected by whites who regarded them as Indians and by Indians who regarded them as half-white.

What kept the tribe united, said anthropologist William Starna, were stories about its history and culture passed down through generations. Starna said he expected those common threads to again hold the Little Shell together in the wake of the recognition decision.

Still, it would take compromise to heal the political rift - and so far neither side is giving in.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, leaders of others tribes and the federal courts have all declined pleas to intervene.

The winner of the opposition chairman election, John Gilbert, said he wants state officials to pressure Sinclair into relinquishing power.

Sinclair, meanwhile, wants to form a tribunal and put members of the opposition on trial. He rejected the notion that the tribe's future hangs in the balance.

"It's not like you joined the Moose Lodge and everybody quits and is going to stop being a Moose," Sinclair said. "We just endure. That's the way it's always been."



March 24, 2010

State steers clear of Little Shell dispute

From Great Falls Tribune

By Travis Coleman
Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

State officials will not step in to resolve a dispute between two sets of tribal councils claiming leadership of the Little Shell Tribe, according to a statement issued from the office of Gov. Brian Schweitzer on Tuesday.

Little Shell Chippewa Alliance leaders had hoped the state would soon determine which council it would do business with, in essence declaring which council would hold power for the state-recognized tribe.

However, the state is declining to choose a government for the Little Shell, according to the statement issued Tuesday. "The Governor's Office believes that the Little Shell, as a sovereign tribe, can and must resolve its internal differences without interference from state government," the statement reads. "We encourage internal resolution of these issues and look forward to continuing our government-to-government relationship with a unified Little Shell Tribe."

The alliance seated its council, led by Chairman John Gilbert, this past weekend, and is seeking to supplant the council led by Tribal President John Sinclair. The alliance believes the new council is the Little Shell's only duly elected council, and noted its candidates received more votes in a recent election than Sinclair's council did in May.

Alliance members do not recognize Sinclair or any council members elected in May because they believe that election was wrongfully postponed and candidates were removed from the ballot without cause.

Sinclair has said he did not run in the alliance's election because he doesn't view it as legal or sanctioned by the tribe. Sinclair issued a statement Tuesday night.

"I am pleased that the governor has publicly stated that he will remain neutral in this process," Sinclair said. "Until all well meaning but misguided individuals understand that this must be resolved within the tribe they will continue to encourage those that are confusing and deceiving the Little Shell people."

The statement continues, "I believe that there are many individuals within the splinter group that are good people but are relying on the word of those who, because of personal vendettas, are using false allegations and distortions to attack the council and myself.

He added that this dispute hurts the tribe's chance to gain long-awaited federal recognition.

Gilbert said he was not surprised by Schweitzer's statement, but added that his council doesn't plan to seek remedy in the Little Shell's tribal court system. However, because the tribe is not federally recognized, it cannot seek remedy in U.S. District Court.

"We want the state of Montana to recognize this election that was put on by the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance with overwhelming numbers and tribal support," Gilbert said.

Het said the alliance is continuing to discuss how the new council can get state recognition. He also said the alliance wants the state to put a hold on funding for the Little Shell until the dispute is resolved.

On the subject of funding, Gilbert said the alliance's operations have been funded entirely by tribal member donations, some of which have been "substantial."

Reach Tribune Staff Writer Travis Coleman at 791-1462 or tcoleman@greatfallstribune.com.



March 21, 2010

Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana Swears in New Council Members

From Great Falls Tribune

By RYAN HALL
Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

A new Little Shell tribal chairman and council, who were elected in an election held by the Little Shell Alliance, were sworn-in Saturday at the Black Eagle Moose Lodge, and immediately began acting in an official capacity with their first meeting following the ceremony.

However, John Sinclair, who was re-elected May 6, has contended that the election approved by a referendum mailed by the alliance is illegal and that the new members will not be recognized by the tribe. The alliance is a group of current and former Little Shell tribal members who are dissatisfied with the direction of tribal government under Sinclair.

The swearing-in of Chairman John Gilbert and the six-member council apparently leaves the Little Shell with two sets of councils and leaders, with each being supported by a different group of tribal members.

The alliance believes the new council is the only duly elected tribal council and therefore should be the recognized leaders of the tribe since more than 500 tribal members participated in its election, compared with the less than 200 votes each candidate received in May.

"I've been involved in council for 20 years ... and I've never seen such a response," said Gilbert, who added he previously served as tribal chairman.

Alliance members do not recognize Sinclair or any council members elected in May because they believe that election was wrongfully postponed and candidates were removed from the ballot without cause.

Sinclair has said he did not run for chairman in the alliance's election because he doesn't view it as legal or sanctioned by the tribe. He also asked tribal members not to participate in the election for those reasons. In addition, Sinclair has promised to hold a tribunal against alliance members responsible for the referendum and election. Alliance members have said Sinclair has no right to hold a tribunal under the tribal constitution.

The state, which administers state and federal funding to the tribe, may have a say in which government is recognized as representing the tribe simply by who it chooses to deal with to sort out funding and other issues.

On Saturday, Gilbert said the state still is dealing with Sinclair and the council elected in May for official business. He said the council seated by the alliance's election has already asked to meet with the governor in Helena in hopes of changing that.

"They already know we are here," he said.

Gilbert said he and the new council believe they have the support of the tribal membership, given the stronger turnout in the alliance's election. They plan to first talk to state leaders about establishing a new intergovernmental relationship, then seeking to get keys to the tribal offices and access to tribal records, both of which are under the control of Sinclair and the council elected in May.

"We have a great task ahead of us," he told supporters Saturday. "I ask for your patience. It's going to take time."



March 20, 2010

Little Shell Chippewa Tribe Swears in New Council Members

From KFBB News

By KFBB News Team

After a dispute over election results led to a special election, members of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe are moving forward.

During that special election, members of the tribe chose new leaders, after a delayed election last year that many called "fraudulent."

Newly-elected Council Chair John Gilbert says that the next order of business is working to gain federal recognition--which the tribe has been seeking for years.

"Federal recognition is always a priority for the Little Shell Tribe,” said Gilbert. “But at this point in time we need to go before the state of Montana and say, 'here's the newly elected governing body. We need you to work with us.' We need to get our things done with the state of Montana first. That'll be a priority."

Tribal officials say repairing their status with the state could allow them to reclaim more than $400,000 in stimulus funds that were slated for the tribe, but were later reclaimed by the state because of auditing and management concerns.



March 16, 2010

Appeals court vacates convictions of 2 non-Indians

From Billings Gazette

By Billings Gazette News Service

HELENA — An appeals court on Tuesday threw out the convictions of two Montana men with American Indian heritage after ruling their bloodlines and affiliations did not merit prosecution under the law that establishes federal jursidiction over serious crimes on tribal lands.

The men successfully appealed their convictions on the grounds that they were not American Indians for purposes of prosecution under the Major Crimes Act.

U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter said his office was reviewing the ruling to determine whether it would seek a retrial.

"Although we are disappointed with the results of the opinion in these cases, we welcome additional clarity in this gray area of the law," he said in a statement.

The decision by a three-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals addressed two cases that were appealed for the same reason.

Gordon R. Mann Jr. was charged in October 2008 with aggravated sexual abuse of a minor at his house on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Prosecutors filed charges under both the Major Crimes Act and the General Crimes Act, which provides federal jurisdiction over certain crimes committed on tribal lands when either the defendant or the victim, but not both, are American Indian.

Mann confessed, but moved for aquittal after the prosecution presented its case at trial arguing that he was a member of an Indian tribe that is not recognized by the federal government and should not have been charged under the Major Crimes Act.

U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon rejected that argument on the basis that American Indian status is a jury determination. The jury found that Mann was American Indian and found him guilty under the Major Crimes Act, but it did not consider the count under the General Crimes Act. Mann was sentenced to over 23 years in prison in February 2009.

The appeals court vacated Mann's conviction because he is a member of the Little Shell Tribe of the Chippewa Cree, which is recognized by the state government but not by the federal government. It cited a 1993 ruling involving another Little Shell tribal member that said the purpose of requiring proof of Indian status was "not to identify individuals as Indian solely in a racial or anthropological sense, but to identify individuals who share a special relationship with the federal government."

Mann's attorney, Palmer Hoovestal of Helena, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

In the second case, Shane Maggi was convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon and related firearms charges for a May 2007 attack on Kelly and Kimberly Hoyt in their home on the Blackfeet reservation. He, too, was charged under the Major Crimes Act, convicted and sentenced to 42 years in prison.

In his appeal, Maggi did not challenge that he pistol-whipped the Hoyts for allegedly stealing illegal drugs from him, but contended he is not an American Indian for purposes of prosecution.

The appeals court found that Maggi has very little Indian blood, is not an enrolled member of any tribe, is not eligible to be an enrolled member of any tribe and does not receive any tribal benefits.

"To the best of my knowledge, because the 9th Circuit found ... that Maggi should be acquitted, double jeopardy attached so there's no opportunity for a retrial," said Maggi's attorney, Dan Donovan of Great Falls. "I believe he should be released, which is pretty significant for him."

Donovan said he has not spoken with his client about the decision

Great Falls Tribune Version

March 14, 2010

Little Shell Alliance elects Gilbert chairman

From Great Falls Tribune

By PETER JOHNSON
Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

John Gilbert of Great Falls has been elected tribal chairman in votes counted Saturday by the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance.

The election apparently leaves the Little Shell tribe with two sets of leaders and councils. The tribal government under John Sinclair's leadership held an election in May that the alliance group considers fraudulent, said James Parker Shield of the alliance "because Sinclair disqualified opposing candidates and disenrolled other voters." The alliance is a group of current and former Little Shell tribal members who are dissatisfied with Sinclair's leadership. Sinclair, who could not be reached Saturday, previously called the alliance's election phony and illegal and threatened to hold a tribunal for alliance members.

Also elected in ballots cast March 6 in eight polling places across Montana and in Spokane, and in later mail-in ballots, were:

•Vice chair, Gerald Gray Jr. of Billings, 343 votes.

•Second vice chair, Leona Kienenberger of Dodson, 430 votes.

•Secretary-treasurer Robert Rudeseal of Great Falls, 168 votes. Rudeseal's race was the closest. He was followed by Betty Hofeldt, with 151 votes, and Tamera Hayes, who earned 145 votes.

— Council members Richard Paranteau of Great Falls, 360 votes; Clarence Sivertsen of Belt, 305 votes, and Alvina Allen of Harlem, 304 votes.

Approximately 464 votes were counted in unofficial final returns, Shield said. Six judges counted the ballots Saturday at the Moose Lodge in Black Eagle, with Cascade County legislators Jesse O'Hara and Joe Tropila observing. Shield said that this was "by far the greatest election turnout in the history of our tribe, and about double the turnout in previous elections under Sinclair."

"This is a direct response from the people, voting for change," Shield said. "They want tribal government to get back on track."

Shield acknowledged that the general public might perceive two alternative Little Shell governments, and said he believes it will be up to the state of Montana to determine the proper tribal government with which it will sign contracts.

The alliance election was the latest development in a yearlong battle between tribal president Sinclair and a the alliance. Fueling the fight was the denial of a petition for federal recognition for the landless tribe in October after decades of effort, followed by accusations of accounting failures that put $900,000 in state grants and federal stimulus funds for the tribe in jeopardy.

The alliance called for the special council election after it conducted a mail-in referendum vote, which approved a series of amendments to the tribal constitution. Sinclair has said the tribal government does not recognize those amendments.



March 13, 2010

Unofficial final Little Shell Tribal Council Vote Counts

From Little Shell Chippewa Alliance

By LSCA News Team

These are unofficial Results of the Little Shell Tribal Council Elections, The Election committee should be sending out a press release soon. What's next? This week, if there are no challenges, recounts or anything else to delay it, the Little Shell Election Committee will be swearing in the new Little Shell Tribal Council Saturday, March 20, 2010 at the Moose Lodge in Black Eagle Montana at around 11am. Please come to see and visit with your new Constitutionally Elected Little Shell Tribal Council.

Chairman Position:
Winner: John Gilbert 369 Votes
x: Iris Kill Eagle 71 Votes
x: Scott Olson 29 Votes

Vice Chairman Position:
Winner: Gerald Gray 343 Votes
x: Caroline Fluery 126 Votes

2nd Vice Chairman Position:
Winner: Leona Kienenberger 347 Votes
Writein: Gary Pronto 3 Votes

Secretary Treasurer Position:
Winner: Bob Rudeseal 168 Votes
x: Betty Hofeldt 151 Votes
x: Tamra Hayes 145 Votes

At Large Councilpersons:
Winner: Alvina Allen 304 Votes
Winner: Richard Parenteau 289 Votes
Winner: Clarence (Clancy) Sivertsen 246 Votes
x: Glen (Rusty) Zimmerman 216 Votes
x: Joe Overton 177 Votes



March 13, 2010

Little Shell Chippewa Tribe Announces New Council Members

From KFBB TV

By KFBB News Team

After months of waiting, the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe now has a new set of council members. Members of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe gathered at the Moose Lodge in Black Eagle on Saturday to witness the counting of ballots in the election of a new Tribal Council.

Tribal Members say this year's election had a significantly higher turnout than past elections. They say the vote reflects the people and now it is up to the state of Montana to recognize the results.

Election Committee members opened ballot boxes from various communities and opened envelopes that contained mail-in absentee ballots, according to Election Committee Chairperson, Karlene Faulkner.

The opening of the ballots and the public counting was witnessed by local legislator, Jesse O'Hara and former legislator, Joe Tropila, both of whom served as "independent observers" in the election process said Election Committee Member, Scott Martinez.

Elected as the new Tribal Chairman was John Gilbert. Gerald Gray Jr. was elected Vice-Chairman. Elected as the 2nd Vice-Chairman was Leona Kienenberger, and the new Secretary-Treasurer is Bob Rudeseal. The three new Council Members elected are; Alvina Allen, Richard Parenteau, and Clarence "Clancy" Sivertsen.

Tribal Member James Parker Shield says, "We're not technically replacing (John)Sinclair or an existing council because their term of office, including Sinclair's expired over a year ago. I don't believe that Sinclair will accept anything that goes beyond his need to try and stay in power. You know, he ignored our constitution, he's gone before his limit, his term and he's trying to stay in illegally."

Tribal members say now that the election is over, they are hoping they will be able to reclaim federal stimulus funds that were slated for the tribe. They were set to receive over $600,000 dollars but state officials decided to reclaim $417,000 of that because of auditing and management concerns



March 13, 2010

Little Shell Tribal Election Results

From KULR TV

By By Lindsey Scheetz
KULR News Team

GREAT FALLS - The results are in and the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe now has a new set of council-members.

Multimedia Watch The Video John Gilbert is the tribe’s new chairman. Gerald Gray Junior and Leona Kienenberger were elected first and second chairman. Bob Rudeseal was elected as the tribe’s secretary and treasurer. Alvina Allen, Richard Praenpeau and Clarence Sivertsen were all elected to council positions.

Tribal members say this year's election had the largest turnout in Little Shell history, with more than 500 tribal members participating in the election. Tribal members say now that they've had the election, they're hoping they will be able to reclaim federal stimulus funds.

The tribe is still eligible for $200,000 dollars if they can prove that their financial operations are in order. Officials say it took nearly 6 hours to count all of the ballots.

KULR Video Report

March 12, 2010

Rehberg still pushing for Little Shell Tribe

From Great Falls Tribune

By Great Falls Tribune Staff

After months of waiting, the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe now has a new set of council members. Members of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe gathered at the Moose Lodge in Black Eagle on Saturday to witness the counting of ballots in the election of a new Tribal Council.

Tribal Members say this year's election had a significantly higher turnout than past elections. They say the vote reflects the people and now it is up to the state of Montana to recognize the results.

Election Committee members opened ballot boxes from various communities and opened envelopes that contained mail-in absentee ballots, according to Election Committee Chairperson, Karlene Faulkner.

The opening of the ballots and the public counting was witnessed by local legislator, Jesse O'Hara and former legislator, Joe Tropila, both of whom served as "independent observers" in the election process said Election Committee Member, Scott Martinez.

Elected as the new Tribal Chairman was John Gilbert. Gerald Gray Jr. was elected Vice-Chairman. Elected as the 2nd Vice-Chairman was Leona Kienenberger, and the new Secretary-Treasurer is Bob Rudeseal. The three new Council Members elected are; Alvina Allen, Richard Parenteau, and Clarence "Clancy" Sivertsen.

Tribal Member James Parker Shield says, "We're not technically replacing (John)Sinclair or an existing council because their term of office, including Sinclair's expired over a year ago. I don't believe that Sinclair will accept anything that goes beyond his need to try and stay in power. You know, he ignored our constitution, he's gone before his limit, his term and he's trying to stay in illegally."

Tribal members say now that the election is over, they are hoping they will be able to reclaim federal stimulus funds that were slated for the tribe. They were set to receive over $600,000 dollars but state officials decided to reclaim $417,000 of that because of auditing and management concerns.



March 12, 2010

Rehberg still pushing for Little Shell Tribe

From Great Falls Tribune

By Great Falls Tribune Staff

Rep. Denny Rehberg is continuing to push for federal recognition of the Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians.

Rehberg introduced legislation to grant long-awaited recognition for the tribe and received a hearing on the bill last July in the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Rehberg sent a letter to committee Chairman Rep. Nick Rahall requesting a legislative markup for four tribal recognition bills, including the Little Shell bill.

"The Little Shell have waited long enough for their rightful recognition," said Rehberg, a member of the House Native American Caucus. "While the legislative process is almost always slow, after more than 30 years of waiting, we're closer to the finish line than we've been in a long time.We'll keep fighting until we're done."

The Little Shell were denied federal recognition last October after waiting for more than three decades. The tribe has since looked to Congress for recognition, which would open the door for federal health and housing benefits, among other things. Rehberg is asking for committee approval of the four bills, which would be the next step toward final passage. The Little Shell is made up of about 4,300 members scattered throughout the state and region.



March 11, 2010

Rehberg Pushes Forward for Little Shell Recognition

From Congressman Rehberg's Congressional Website

By Denny Rehberg
Montana At Large Congressman

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Montana’s Congressman, Denny Rehberg, sent a letter requesting a legislative markup for four tribal recognition bills including his effort to acquire federal recognition for the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe. Rehberg, who has introduced legislation on behalf of the Tribe in each of the last two Congresses, successfully obtained a hearing on this bill last July in the House Committee on Natural Resources. He also testified at the hearing, where he presented a strong case in favor of recognition. Committee approval is the next step toward final passage.

“The Little Shell have waited long enough for their rightful recognition,” said Rehberg, a member of the House Native American Caucus. “While the legislative process is almost always slow, after more than 30 years of waiting, we’re closer to the finish line than we’ve been in a long time. We’ll keep fighting until we’re done.”

The Little Shell Tribe is made up of approximately 4,300 members, mostly in the Great Falls area. In 2000, the same year the tribe was recognized by the state of Montana, the Department of Interior issued a positive finding for the tribe making them eligible for recognition. Since then, little progress has been made due to bureaucratic obstacles. Rehberg’s bill expedites recognition through the legislative process.

The full letter is below:

Dear Chairman Rahall,

We request an expeditious markup for the following bills which are currently under consideration in the Committee on Natural Resources: the Duwamish Tribal Recognition Act (H.R. 2678), the Burt Lake Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians Reaffirmation Act (H.R. 1358), the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Restoration Act (H.R. 3120), and the Chinook Restoration Act (H.R. 3084).

As Members of Congress, we have worked on these bills for many years, in some cases more than a decade. Each of the tribes has contributed significantly to the culture, history, and character of the regions which we represent, and federal recognition would be a step toward righting a historical wrong.

We believe that these bills are ready to advance through the legislative process to a vote on the floor of the House. On July 15, 2009, the Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing examining all four of these bills. Concerns which arose from this hearing have since been addressed, and we believe that a markup should now be scheduled without delay.

We respectfully request a meeting to discuss how we may work with you and House Leadership to move this legislation to a final vote in Committee and on the House floor as quickly as possible. We strongly believe in the importance and caliber of these bills. Passage of these bills is of the highest priority for each of us, and we urge swift action by our colleagues in the House.



March 7, 2010

Little Shell election held without any major incidents

From Great Falls Tribune

By Travis Coleman
Great Falls Tribune Reporter

The Little Shell Chippewa Alliance's election went on without incident Saturday, despite all the controversy leading up to it.

Tribal President John Sinclair — the man at the center of the tribe's political rift — attempted to thwart the election by threatening legal action against facilities allowing the election to take place on their property. Alliance poll sites were placed across the state and in Spokane.

But there weren't any problems at the poll sites Saturday, according to the alliance's election committee chairwoman Karlene Faulkner. But there also weren't many voters, at least in Great Falls.

Sixteen ballots were cast through 3 p.m. at the Great Falls Public Library. The polls closed at 4 p.m. "So far there's not much of a crowd," said Francis Flesh, an election committee member watching the Great Falls poll site. Election officials say that more than 300 mail-in ballots have been returned, and that they expected most of the votes to come from absentee ballots.

The alliance plans to count the ballots at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the Moose Lodge at 401 21st St. in Black Eagle. Faulkner expected more absentee ballots to arrive this week. About 2,300 ballots were sent out, she said. There are about 4,500 Little Shell tribal members scattered across Montana and the region.

The election was the latest development in a year-long battle between Sinclair and a group of tribal members dissatisfied with the direction of the tribe under his leadership.

Fueling the fight was the denial of a petition for federal recognition for the landless tribe in October after decades of effort, followed by accusations of accounting failures that put $900,000 in state grants and stimulus funds for the tribe in jeopardy.

The alliance called for a special council election after a mail-in referendum vote approved a series of constitutional amendments. The election would seat what the alliance believes will be the tribe's only duly elected tribal council. The alliance alleges that the current council was seated by means of a fraudulent election.

Sinclair has said the alliance's election is phony and illegal and previously threatened to hold a tribunal to put alliance members on trial.

Sinclair could not be reached by phone for comment Saturday, but did issue a statement: "The Little Shell Tribal Council and I are always glad to see tribal members being involved in tribal affairs but we would prefer they used their energies to help us to further our goal of federal acknowledgement. We wish this group would follow our tribal laws and use that energy to help, rather than hurt our tribe."

Flesch said some believe this ordeal has made the tribe look bad, and he hoped the conflict could be resolved soon. But it's not clear what happens next — how will the tribe do business with two Little Shell tribal councils?

Sinclair "ain't going to give it up willingly," Flesch said.



March 6, 2010

Little Shell Elections Held

From KULR News 8

By Lindsey Scheetz
KULR News Reporter

BILLINGS - Montana's Little Shell Tribe held an election Saturday in attempt to select a new tribal council.

The election was held by an opposition group and has been met with some controversy by the current administration. Members of the opposition say they have waited for more than a year to elect the new council. The landless tribe has been split politically over current council practices- and recently made headlines when they failed to receive federal tribal recognition.

Candidate for Vice-chairman Gerald Gray Junior said the election is long-overdue. "This is a special election because we're trying to take back the tribe. It's been kind of in shambles and a mess as people have been reading throughout the press and we need to get things straight. And have an open accountability and communication with all tribal members."

The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians includes about 4300 members who live throughout the state. They expect to have results by next Saturday.



March 6, 2010

Election Info

For Immediate Release

Contact: Karlene Faulkner (406)-788-0994

Candidates Announced for Little Shell Tribal Council Election

Fourteen candidates have filed for positions on the Little Shell Chippewa Tribal Council, whose election is scheduled for March 6th, according to Election Committee Chairperson, Karlene Faulkner. “It’s great to see the amount of interest and the caliber of candidates in this election”, Faulkner added.

Three people have filed for Tribal Chairman, including; John Gilbert of Great Falls, Iris Kill Eagle of Dodson, and Scott Olson of Billings.

Gerald Gray Jr. of Billings and Caroline Fleury of Great Falls will contest for the Vice-Chairman position.

Leona Kienenberger, the former Tribal Councilmember who resigned recently in protest over actions by past-Chairman John Sinclair, is running unopposed for 2nd Vice-Chair.

Three people have filed for the Secretary-Treasurer position including; Tamra Hayes of Helena, Betty Hofeldt of Havre, and Robert Rudeseal of Great Falls.

The three regular council seats have five candidates including; Alvina Allen of Harlem, Joel Overton of Helena, Richard Parenteau of Great Falls, Clarence “Clancy” Sivertsen of Belt, and Glen “Rusty” Zimmerman of Billings.

Several Montana communities will have poll-sites for the election. These communities and sites are; Great Falls (Public Library), Butte (North American Indian Alliance), Havre (TBA), Browning (New Senior Citizen Center), Helena (Public Library), Billings (TBA), and Malta (TBA).

“Other tribal members, including those living outside of Montana, can vote by absentee ballot. Ballots will be mailed to them soon. Absentee ballots can also be printed from the election web site (www.littleshelltribe.com), printed, and mailed back. All absentee ballots are due back by 5:00 pm, Friday, March 5th”, stated Faulkner.

PLEASE REMEMBER TO SIGN THE BOTTOM OF THE BALLOT!!"

ELECTION BALLOT PDF VERSION
ELECTION BALLOT WORD VERSION


click the icons for adobe reader or Microsoft word viewer if you do not currently have these installed on your computer

POLL SITES AND TIMES FOR THE LST SPECIAL ELECTION ON MARCH 6TH 2010:

HELENA Lewis and Clark Public Library, 120 S. Last Chance Gulch, 10AM-4PM

BUTTE PUBLIC LIBRARY, 226 W. Broadway, 10AM-4PM

BROWNING NEW SENIOR CENTER, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m

HAVRE-HILL COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY, 402 3rd St. 9am-NOON

MALTA STRETCH'S PIZZA BANQUET ROOM, 140 S. 1st St., NOON to 5 p.m.

SPOKANE INDIAN CENTER , CONTACT ALBERT LADUE, (509) 385-6434, 10AM TO 4PM

GREAT FALLS PUBLIC LIBRARY, 301 2nd Ave. N. 10AM-4PM

BILLINGS-MSU, 2804 3RD AVE NORTH, MAIN FLOOR (LOOK FOR SIGNS) 10AM-4PM

MISSOULA INDIAN CENTER, 2300 Regent St., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, call the Little Shell election committee at 788-0994.

John Sinclair and his personal Lawyer, Robert E LaFountain are threatening each polling site and are trying to force them to not allow any Little Shell Tribal Member to vote in this election. This Violates State and Federal Law and is a direct Civil Rights Violation to individual Little Shell Tribal Members. On Election Day, if Sinclair or any of his supporters try to prevent you from exercising your Constitutional rights, call 911 Immediately and file charges and have those arrested who are blocking your access to the polling sites.

In the meantime, we will keep this polling site list updated of any of them "Fold" to the false threats from John Sinclair and Robert E LaFountain. You are also welcome to call Sinclair and LaFountain and tell them to "Cease and Desist" from trying to steal your rights from you.

US Code TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 13 > § 241,

§ 241. Conspiracy against rights

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or

If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—

They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

From http://www.DexKnows.com

John R Sinclair
905 Center Dr
Havre, MT 59501-4254
(406) 265-8089

Robert E Lafountain
932 Dixon St
Billings, MT 59105-2312
(406) 248-2948


Due to the referendum vote to improve the constitution of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana, There is to be a special election on March 6th, 2010. The Candidates are listed here, along with information about each of them.

Running for Chairman are the following:
John Gilbert
Iris Kill Eagle
Scott Olsen

1st Vice Chairman:
Gerald Gray, Jr.
Caroline Fleury

2nd Vice Chairman (unopposed)
Leona Kienenberger

Secretary/Treasurer:
Bob Rudeseal
Tamra Hayes
Betty Hofeldt

Councilman:
Joe Overton
Clarence (Clancy) Sivertsen
Glen (Rusty) Zimmerman
Richard Parenteau
Alvina Allen

Absentee Ballots will be sent out to all those we have addresses for. All others will be able to get them from this website. Just download them, print them out, fill them out, and mail them in. The address is as follows:

LST Election Committee
PO Box 6373
Great Falls, MT 59406

If you know anyone who might not be on the mailing list, or has not voted in a while, please let them know about this election and VOTE. We need as many votes to come in as possible. Votes MUST BE RECEIVED by Friday, March 5th for them to count.

Candidate information:

Chairman:

JOHN GILBERT
Great Falls, MT
Age: 58

Education:
Graduated from Harlem High School, had management training for Cenex, and many business seminars. School of Hard Knocks.

Occupation/Work Experience:
General Manager of many companies. Presently the owner of Silver Wolf Enterprises. Have received awards from SBA for business operation.

Vision for the Tribe:
Put an end to this internal conflict within out tribal government and our members. Get our credibility back with the State of Montana and other tribes.

Priority Areas:
Get established with the State of Montana and get our money back. Get federal recognition back on track.

IRIS KILL EAGLE
Dodson, MT
Age: 49

Education: 2 years of college (no degree)

Occupation/ Work Experience:
Have worked for the Postal Service for just about 25 years with the last 11 of those years serving as Postmaster for the Dodson Post Office.

Vision for the Tribe:
Would like to see the people come together as one and become federally recognized.

Priority Areas:
Getting recognized and doing everything possible to inform the people of the Little Shell Tribe to everything that is going on and all of the decisions that the council is making on the people’s behalf.

SCOTT OLSEN
Billings, MT
Age: 44

Education: High School- Graduated from Billings West in 1983
2 years at Eastern Montana College (no diploma)
Dale Carnegie Training Course

Occupation/ Work experience:
10 years retail sales with Big Bear Sports Center
3 years Northwest Pipe Fittings, Sales and Delivery
3 years Hi-Tech Motor Sports retail sales
1999 to present, Owner of Extreme Machines custom motorcycles, retail sales and service

Vision for the Tribe:
To have Federal Recognition in the near future. Some sort of profit center for the people of the tribe. Use the funds we receive to build a future of prosperity. (many other tribes have a steady income from various business ventures). All members working together.

Priority Areas:
Unification is our number one priority. Unity will lead us to a much better future. In the eyes of the government, community and tribal membership.

1st Vice Chairman:

Gerald Gray Jr.
Billings, MT
Age: 43

Education:
Bachelor of Science Degree

Occupational/Work Experience:
Vice President, Media/Research Director
G&G Advertising
Gerald has purchased over $8 million in media. He has 12 years of experience planning, buying, and tracking media with local, regional, and national clients. At G&G I also work on proposal/grant writing/fund raising; raising funds from private foundations; working knowledge and experience with Federal contracting/grant process, and finance, and managing office personnel. I have experience with operations/policy procedures manuals; developing and maintaining budget reporting and control systems and experience with monitoring and controlling expenditures to ensure the budget remain within approved allocations. I possess years of work experience working cooperatively with numerous Local, County, Tribal, State and Federal institutions, agencies, departments and organizations for G&G Advertising.
Classroom Teacher Box Elder Public Schools
Gerald created and implemented instructional materials for use in public classroom teaching. He developed and delivered a general education curriculum inclusive to all students and learning styles in the Box Elder School system. Gerald also coached 5th/ and 6th girls and Varsity boys for 3 seasons.

Vision for Tribe:
Targeting areas of highest need and provide services to the people; developing, creating, implementing and supporting programs that are structured to meet the needs of the people; establishing short and long-term program and financial priorities for the Tribe; working to secure new programs for our people; working to create job opportunities for tribal members; working cooperatively with the Indian Health Service to ensure improved health care services for our people and children; researching county, state and federal agencies that may provide grant funding to the Tribe; writing and submitting proposals to various agencies in an effort to secure new programs and business opportunities for our people; developing a Tribal Council Code of Ethics and position descriptions; working diligently to get the entire Tribal Council to work together as a TEAM; providing effective leadership and direction through cooperation and Team-Work with the Tribal Council; and always seeking in-put from Tribal members into Tribal affairs and always being willing to listen to our people and voting for what the majority of what the Little Shell people want. And most important, at this time in the history of our Tribe, I am definitely committed researching and being well prepared to provide the U. S. Congress all of the information they need and want to help obtain Federal Recognition for us. I believe, as a Tribal Council, we all need to be prepared to give testimony to Congress when called upon. This means we need to be prepared now and not wait until the date we are called on to go and provide testimony to Congress.

Priority Areas:
*Refining Tribal Government in order to better serve the Little Shell people Creating and supporting Tribal Government programs that are structured to meet the needs of the people. *Developing Tribal business for the long-term Financial Future of the Tribe and It's people *Having the Tribe serve as a Leader in Indian Country in providing "Indian to Indian" Business *Developing and prioritizing a Financial Plan for the Little Shell Tribe. *Maximizing Land Use (State Donated Land) for the Tribe’s Economic Development. *Working cooperatively with the Indian Health Service to ensure improved Health Service for the Little Shell people and children. *Financial reviews of all Tribal Programs and Departments, and sharing the review results with all members of the Tribe. *Being accountable and Reporting to the people. *Making economic progress for the Tribe through the "Team Work of the Tribal Council and from "In-put from the People". * Providing Leadership through cooperation and Team Work with the Tribal Council and Tribal membership. * Holding Tribal wide staff meetings to lay out and establish the overall direction of the Tribe’s priorities. *Establishing Short-term and Long-term financial priorities for the Tribe. * Sensibility in Tribal Government spending. *Developing Tribal Government goals with measurable objectives. * Encouraging all Tribal members to attend Tribal Council meeting and to provide feedback to the Tribal Council and to the Chairman's office. *Develop a Jobs program for Little Shell members.

Caroline Fleury

Caroline Fleury is retired, and has served previously on the Tribal Council as Secretary-Treasurer

2nd Vice Chairman (running unopposed)

Leona Kienenberger
Dodson, MT
Age: 68

Education:
Bachelors Degree in English

Occupation/ Work experience:
Taught high school English for 26 years. (now retired)

Vision for the Tribe:
My vision for the tribe is ensuring federal recognition that will provide for the general welfare of our people.

Priority Areas:
Tribal headquarters, receiving adequate tribal health care, housing, educational and employment opportunities. We also need to work on regaining the grants that were lost.

Secretary / Treasurer:

BOB RUDESEAL
Great Falls, MT
AGE: 46

EDUCATION:
Charles M. Russell HS Diploma, US Air Force Technical Training, Numerous training in Electronic Engineering, IT Systems Management, Leadership Schools and Accounting Practices.

OCCUPATION/WORK EXPERIENCE:
2-1/2 yrs Assistant Chief Engineer KTGF (NBC Affiliate) in Great Falls, MT, 2 yrs Senior Engineer at KTKA (ABC Affiliate) in Topeka, KS, 16 yrs Senior Engineer at KCNC (3 yrs NBC Owned and Operated, 13 yrs CBS/Westinghouse Owned and Operated) in Denver, CO. Accounting/reconciliation in Denver CO for several Retail Stores, Sales Associate at Silver Wolf Enterprises, numerous leadership/management/technical training seminars and programs.

VISION FOR TRIBE:
I am proudly an enrolled Little Shell Tribal member descended from the Wells/Gourneau/Berger lines. My Great Great Grandmother was Clemence Berger (Gourneau) who followed the Buffalo from Pembina and became one of the first families to bring the Little Shell permanently to Montana (Lewistown).

It is my number one goal to clean out the corrupt tribal officials who have lied to and violated the civil rights of tribal members, who have ignored and violated our tribal constitution, and have mishandled tribal funds. For the past 10 years, hundreds of thousands of dollars of tribal monies have gone unaccounted for, it will be my job to find out where it went, and if misused, to bring to justice before the tribal members those who violated our laws.

PRIORITY AREAS:
Federal Recognition. Establish a Judicial System and Tribal Court. To Work a Treaty with the State for Judicial/Law Enforcement Resources. Complete Transparency of the Tribal Government. Help our Tribe regain its heritage by establishing language and other programs where tribal members can speak the language of our ancestors and to know and pass on our history and culture again. To represent our tribe in a professional and friendly manner and to keep tribal members informed

TAMRA HAYES
Helena MT
AGE: 52

EDUCATION:
Gradutated with Bachulor's of Science in Business with an Accoutning Option from Montana State University in 1983.

OCCUPATION/WORK EXPERIENCE:
In relation to the Secretary Treasurer position, I have worked as an auditor Governments, Non-Profits and Profit Making conerns, for Department of Public Heath and Human Services for 10 years. I have also had 3 years working as an Accounts Receivable Supervisor at Motana Department of Transportation which involved recieving payments and posting them in the accounting system, superivsiion of indivuals who did this work, working with different committees working on computer systems/problems, and other duites as required.. I also worked MDT as an accoutant. approving all entries in the account system, working with area accountants concerning accounting principles applications and systems problems.

VISION FOR THE TRIBE:
I have faith in and hope for the tribe and indiviual triblal members for personal progression as we overcome our past problems. There is also a knowledge that we can accomplish Fedreal Recognition, teaching our tribal memebers (presemt and future) about our heritage, and becoming fiscally (accountings) and finacially (money/actual dollars) respoinsible. There is so much good in our fore fathers and can be past down by the Elders of our tribe, which will make us better people, citizens, and teachers, that makes it so very important to understand our roots.

PRIORITY AREAS:
Instituing a double entry accoutning systems with appropriate checks and balances that give triable memebers and those who provide us with funding confidence in out handling of said sources. This will also make sure that reports given to these praties are accurate and reflect the accopishments of our govenment. Working to instute programs that will promote sharing of information concerning the running of the government and our heritage. Finding out what is important to tribal members and getting ideas that will be supporitng in accomplishing those tasks.

Betty Ann Gardipee Hofeldt
Havre, MT
AGE: 58

EDUCATION:
Bachelor's Degree in Business Education, MSU Northern 1981 Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education UM Western 2000 One Year Certificate as Certified Dental Assistant Intermountan Indian School 1970

OCCUPATION:
I work for the Head Start Program as Disabilities, Assessment, Outcomes and Mental Health Specialist. Work for the University of Montana Western as an Adjunct Professor and as a Student Mentor Coach.

VISION for THE TRIBE:
I would like to see the tribe receive federal recognition. I would also like to see the tribe going forward instead of backward, to identify fund- ing sources and to use that funding for the betterment of the tribe as a whole. I would like to see better communication with tribal members and get more members involved in the tribe. I would like to have our culture documented so all who want to can be familar with where we have come from so we know where we are going. If we do not receive recognition, I would like to see us continue to be a functional tribe and look sources of funding so we may develop program to help our people.

PRIORITY AREAS:
Federal Recognition. Developing the Maroney Dam property. Finding sources of funding. Bringing the tribe together. Communication.

Council Members:

JOE OVERTON
Helena, MT
AGE: 54

EDUCATION:
Associates of Arts Degree – Business Technologies May, 2006, Helena College of Technology – University of Montana, Helena, MT

OCCUPATION/WORK EXPERIENCE:
I worked for Helena School District #1 for 23 years within the maintenance department.

VISION FOR TRIBE:
I am interested in becoming a council member because I see the value in being part of a network of leaders. Now I am confident that with my qualifications I will be a strong team member capable of overseeing a project from start to finish. I have strong communication and presentation skills, training in computer technologies, and good work ethic. I understand the need for building a good rapport and maintaining good working relationships with others in the community. It is my desire to aid in creating a legacy for our future generations.

PRIORITY AREAS:
I believe the Little Shell Tribe needs to focus on the Morony Dam land as a home for tribal business and continue the Federal Recognition process.

Clarence ( Clancy ) Sivertsen
Belt, MT Age: 55

Education: H.S.- Graduated 1973 C.M.Russell High School Graduated College - Northern MT College 1981 Agricultural Business Graduated Aviation Maintenance- Colorado Aero Tech -Airframe and PowerPlant License

Occupation/Work Experience: 28 years Military in Army and MT Air National Guard Full time Technician for the Dept. of Defense as a Jet Engine Technician and Hydraulic/repair and reclamation technician. Was an Executive Officer for the Association of Civilian Technicians for 18 years and worked with our Congressional leaders on work related issues and wages. Was a State Director for the MT High School Rodeo Association and have been a Judge for the Indian National Finals Tour Rodeos.

Vision for the Tribe: To get the Little Shell Tribe re-united and have a fair and impartial government for the people. To also get the Federal recognition back on track, working with our Congressional leaders in Washington, D.C. and to also get a Tribal Headquarters established for the people to be able to get help/answers from Friendly and Informed people.The state of MT has given the Little Shell Tribe the Land opportunity in Great Falls for an established HOME!! So we need to work with the state leaders and get it done.

I have the experience and knowledge of working with the Political groups and elected officials to get these projects done. I will work for the BEST for ALL the LITTLE SHELL TRIBAL MEMBERS

GLEN “RUSTY” ZIMMERMAN:

Hello my name is Glen Rusty Zimmerman, I was born and raised in Poplar MT. I went to college at Eastern Montana College and MSU, with 14 years of education and lack of money I started working construction. As monies were needed for my family, I went to the North Slope of Alaska, which started my career in oil refining. After seven years there I landed a job at Conoco Phillips Refinery in Billings. I have been with Conoco for 21 years now and am glad to say I worked my way up to the position of Head Operator. Today I’m proud to say I am the Father and stepfather of 7 girls and grandfather to 10 grandchildren (Christmas breaks me.) I’m 56 years young with many to go with the good Lord’s help.

There are many reasons that I want to be part of the governing body of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe of Montana. First and foremost we must find Unity, for with out unification and working as a whole we stand helpless. Many have worked very hard for many decades using money from their own pocket to receive Federal Recognition only to have their hard work destroyed. I feel I can help bring this misdirected executive board back to a proper state. I'm ready to meet the immense task ahead of our governing body. I very much would like for us to have our owned Tribal center, a place where we can gather and enjoy each other. Billings has a need for representation. I would bring my experience as a head operator for a large refinery, to the board if elected. I ask for your vote

Thank You.
Rusty Zimmerman

RICHARD PARENTEAU
Great Falls, MT Age: 41

Education: I graduated high school from Froid in 1986. I received a certificate in Small Business Operiations from MSU College of Technology in Billings in 1991. In 2000 I completed my Bachelors degree in Liberal Studies with a minor in Native American Studies.

Occupation/ Work Experience: This year I will be retiring from the National Guard after 21 years and 7 months experience from both the Air National Guard and the Army National Guard. I am a Veteran of Foreign Wars after serving a tour in Iraq in 2004/2005. In addition I have completed several military schools and earned a National Defense Medal while serving state-side during the first gulf war in 1991.

On the civillian side I have worked for the Cascade County Sheriff's Office and have served as a Counselor for the Educational Talent Search Program for the Montana University System. Currently I am working on a Small Business venture with my wife and other family/friend members.

Vision for the Tribe: I look forward to serving our people in terms of promoting unity throughout our tribe. In addition, I see Federal Recognition as the ultimate goal that can and will be attained in the very near future. And, I look forward to working with the council, our elders and the people in securing the Morony Dam site as a "Tribal Capital/Cultural Center."

Priority Areas:

I believe that we have 4 major priority areas to address immediately which are:

1. To immediately address the actions of the "council" since December, 31st 2008 in terms of disenrollment of tribal members who have worked their entire lives for the betterment of our people.

2. To focus on unity within the tribe and to possibly combine with other tribes in our situation in pushing for legislation towards recognition.

3. To work on the rolls within the tribe in terms of enrollment/tribal cards..new members etc.

4. To work with the State, Fish, Wildlife and Parks and other agencies in cementing the Little Shell involvement with the Morony Dam site in terms of building improvements, cultural activities and land use for our members beyond 2017.

In closing, I am married to Mary Gopher and we have two wonderful kids Bear and Sage. In addition we are helping to raise our Grandson Richard Scott Doney. I truly would appreciate your vote for the opportunity to serve and work with the other elected members of the council.

Thank you in advance for your consideration in this matter

ALVINA ALLEN

My name is Alvina Gardipee Allen; I am the mother of four, grandmother to 16, Great grandmother to 4. I retired from Indian health service in 1995 where I held different positions beginning with Nurses aid then Medical records, to supply supervisor. I became an EMT in 1996 and have been working for forestry on wild fires since then in the Medical unit. I graduated from high school and have 2 years of college education. I was elected to and served on the Little Shell counsel for 4 years. My goal is first and foremost for recognition. I believe to obtain this we must get our tribal government back in order. Equally important is Healthcare and economic help for education ,housing and job opportunities. As a retiree I have time to devote to the Little Shell tribe to work toward and obtain these goals



From the Havre Daily News

By Tim Leeds
Havre Daily News Reporter

The polling sites have been finalized in the election being held Saturday by a group contesting the results of the last election of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Voting will be held in the Havre- Hill County Public Library from 9 a.m. to noon with other sites set around the state and in Spokane. Absentee and online ballots also have been allowed in the election.

The Little Shell Chippewa Alliance, a group of Tribal members who contend the Tribal council was not elected legally, set the election after a constitutional referendum it sponsored passed in January. The results of the referendum have been dismissed as invalid by the chair of the council elected in 2009, John Sinclair. Sinclair said he plans to create a tribunal to assess the actions of the people in holding the referendum and the election. The Alliance contends that Sinclair illegally postponed the election that was set for November 2008, and that made the March 2009 election invalid. The group says that irregularities in the conducting of the 2008 election also makes it invalid. Sinclair said the election was valid. The original election was postponed to allow for hearings to be held for people who were excluded for the election, and it was rescheduled to the March date, he said. He said the elections scheduled Saturday will not have any legal standing, adding that the people dissatisfied with the Tribal government should work within the established government and procedures to settle their differences.

Contention has been high in the Tribe, in the midst of other issues such as the U.S. Department of Interior denying the Little Shell federal recognition as an Indian Tribe. That decision last fall was after a 31-year wait following the Tribe’s last attempt at federal recognition, a request filed In 1978. Montana officially recognized the Tribe, which has been seeking federal recognition since it was excluded from an 1863 treaty, at the start of the decade. Most of the 4,300 members of the Tribe are spread throughout Montana. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., has introduced a bill in the House which would provide recognition for the Little Shell. Montana’s Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, both Democrats, have introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

The state also has put a freeze on money that had been allocated to the Tribe after an audit found problems in its accounting, another problem the council’s opponents cite as a reason for their opposition. The state Department of Commerce recommended that Gov. Brian Schweitzer move the $417,000 allocated to the Tribe to the state’s general fund as part of the effort to stave off budget shortfalls.

Two of the members of the council elected last March have resigned in protest over Sinclair’s leadership. John LaSalle of Box Elder and Leona Kienenberger of Dodson resigned in February. Kienenberger is a candidate in the elections set for Saturday, although LaSalle did not run.

The other polling places in the election are in Great Falls at the public library from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Helena at the public library from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Butte at the public library from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Missoula at the Missoula Indian Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Malta at Stretch’s Pizza from noon to 5 p.m.; and Spokane at the Spokane Indian Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call the Little Shell Chippewa Election Committee at (406) 788-0994.



March 5, 2010

Little Shell Tribe opposition group pushes ahead with Saturday vote

From the AP Via the Missoulian

By the Associated Press

BILLINGS - An opposition group within Montana's Little Shell Tribe said Friday it will push ahead with a Saturday election for a new council, despite efforts by sitting tribal officials to discredit the vote.

The political split within the landless, scattered tribe comes after it was rocked in October by the denial of decades-long petition for federal recognition. Since then, the state withheld $900,000 in grants and stimulus money after an audit revealed problems with the tribe's spending.

Those events fueled the rise of a rival Little Shell faction determined to remove authority from tribal president John Sinclair.

Opposition leaders arranged for nine polling places across western Montana and in Spokane for their Saturday election. They include libraries and other public places.

Sinclair had attempted to stymie the election by sending out letters saying officials at the polling places could be subject to lawsuits if they let the election proceed.

He also repeated a threat to hold a tribunal to put the members of the opposition group on trial, but said details still were being worked out.

James Parker Shield, a member of the opposition and former tribal council member, said all of the polling places were still on track for the election. He said Sinclair's "scare tactics" had come up short.

After the new council is sworn in, Shields said its members will contact the state, Montana's congressional delegation and other Indian tribes to establish government-to-government relations.

March 5, 2010

Polling sites set for Little Shell election

From the Billings Gazette

By Billings Gazette News Staff

Polling for the election of Little Shell Chippewa Tribal Council will take place on March 6 at nine locations around Montana.

Election Day voting can be done in Billings at Montana State University Billings, 2804 Third Ave. S.; the new senior citizen center in Browning; the public libraries in Great Falls, Helena, Butte and Havre; the Missoula Indian Center in Missoula; Stretch’s Pizza in Malta; and the Spokane Indian Center in Spokane, Wash.

The polls will be open at all locations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. except in Havre, which will go from 9 a.m. to noon, and Malta, from noon to 5 p.m.

Absentee and online ballots will also be accepted. For more information, go to www.littleshelltribe.com.



March 4, 2010

Sinclair calls election phony

From the Great Falls Tribune

By Great Falls News Staff

As the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance prepares to seat who they believe to be the tribe's only duly-elected council, the current Little Shell Tribal Council is warning tribal members that this election could put tribal members' personal information at risk.

The tribal council said in a news release that the alliance's election on Saturday is phony and that the alliance is masquerading as the official Little Shell tribal government with the authority to conduct elections. The alliance's election could put tribal members' personal information at risk, including tribal ID numbers, according to the council's release.

The alliance, formed by tribal members dissatisfied with Tribal President John Sinclair, called for a special election after a mail-in referendum vote approved a series of constitutional amendments. Sinclair has condemned the group's actions, calling them illegal.

Last week, the alliance asked state officials to continue to withhold funding for the tribe until after its elections. The council now also has sent a letter to those same officials, saying that the alliance is not authorized to disrupt tribal affairs. The letter's author is the tribe's attorney Robert LaFountain, who suggests state officials ignore the alliance and continue to not interfere with tribal matters. The tribe headquartered in Great Falls is state-recognized but is not federally recognized. Meanwhile, the alliance has finalized the poll sites for its elections.

The polling sites and their schedule for voting are:

•Great Falls Public Library, 301 2nd Ave. N., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

•Havre-Hill County Public Library, 402 3rd St., 9 a.m. to noon.

•Browning, new Senior Citizen Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

•Helena, Lewis and Clark Public Library, 120 S. Last Chance Gulch, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

•Malta, Stretch's Pizza, 140 S. 1st St., Noon to 5 p.m.

•Billings, MSU-Billings, 2804 3rd Ave. S., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

•Butte Public Library, 226 W. Broadway, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

•Missoula Indian Center, 2300 Regent St., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

•Spokane Indian Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, call the alliance's election committee at 788-0994.



March 3, 2010

Little Shell Chippewa Alliance asks state to continue holding funds

From the Great Falls Tribune

By Great Falls News Staff

The Little Shell Chippewa Alliance is asking the state to continue to withhold any funding to the tribe at least until after the alliance's council elections Saturday.

Alliance Chairman John Gilbert made the request in a letter to Montana Department of Commerce Director Anthony Preite dated Feb. 25. The state is withholding almost $900,000 in grants and stimulus funds because of concerns with the tribe's accounting procedures.

In the letter, the alliance says the state is treading on questionable legal grounds by continuing to work with Tribal President John Sinclair and the Little Shell Tribal Council.

The alliance says the council was not duly-elected, which is why the alliance is holding its own elections to seat a new tribal council.

"Please consider this as an official request to put state funding in escrow, and allow our citizens a fair hearing in a state district court regarding the legitimacy of the Sinclair administration, as it pertains to state funding," the letter states.

The letter states that these tribal members have not been able to have a hearing to prove their allegations.

The tribe was tabbed to receive $617,000 in stimulus funds from the Commerce Department, but the department suspended that award over concerns with the tribe's accounting practices in December.

Department officials said they wanted to send about $400,000 of that money to the state's general fund to fulfill Gov. Brian Schweitzer's request that state agencies cut costs by 5 percent.

The Commerce Department's recommendation must be approved by the governor.



Feburary 28, 2010

Institute of American Indian Arts: "The Sovereign Image" Exhibition in Santa Fe New Mexico

From the IAIA Website

February 27, 2010 through April 11, 2010

Museum Store and Lloyd Kiva New Gallery, 108 Cathedral Place, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Native people have often been incorrectly portrayed or entirely misrepresented by non-Natives throughout the ages. In The Sovereign Image, a new exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts’ Lloyd Kiva New Gallery and Museum Store, contemporary Native photographers will push the Native likeness forward, articulating the future of Native people using the power of their own image.

The exhibit opens February 27 from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. with a reception and will remain on display until April 11, 2010. The Museum Store is located at 108 Cathedral Place, in downtown Santa Fe, NM. All work will be available for purchase and all sales benefit the artists and the museum.

At press time, participating artists include a mix of Institute of American Indian Arts’ students and alumni and both emerging and well-established artists: Rory Erler Wakemup (Anishinaabe), Shan Goshorn (Eastern Band Cherokee), Dorothy Grandbois (Chippewa), John Hagen (Aleut), Jean LaRance (Little Shell Tribe of Montana), Jinniibaah Manuelito (Diné/Navajo), H. Clay Napie, Jr. (Diné), Cougar Vigil (Apache), Tom Jones (Ho Chunk) and Will Wilson (Diné/Navajo)

Many have participated in top-notch art exhibits around the world. Tom Jones, for instance, was one of two featured artists in Rendezvoused, an exhibit at the La Biennale di Venezia 53rd international arts exhibition in collaboration with the Department of European and Postcolonial Studies, University of Ca' Foscari, Venice. Shan Goshorn, has exhibited in York, England's Impression Gallery, New York City’s American Indian Community House Gallery, the Franco-American Institute in Rennes, France, Beijing Jialuan Art Center, China and the International Arts Alive Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa.

For more information call 505.983.1666.



Feburary 25, 2010

Little Shell Candidates File For Election

From the Billings Gazette

By Billings Gazette News Staff

Fourteen candidates have filed for positions on the Little Shell Chippewa Tribal Council, whose election is scheduled for March 6, according to Election Committee Chairperson, Karlene Faulkner.

“It’s great to see the amount of interest and the caliber of candidates in this election,” Faulkner added.

Three people have filed for tribal chairman. They are John Gilbert of Great Falls, Iris Kill Eagle of Dodson, and Scott Olson of Billings.

Gerald Gray Jr. of Billings and Caroline Fleury of Great Falls will compete for the post of vice chairman.

Leona Kienenberger, the former Tribal Council member who resigned recently in protest over actions by past-Chairman John Sinclair, is running unopposed for second vice chair.

Three people have filed for the secretary-treasurer position. They are Tamra Hayes of Helena, Betty Hofeldt of Havre, and Robert Rudeseal of Great Falls.

The three regular council seats have five candidates, including, Alvina Allen of Harlem, Joel Overton of Helena, Richard Parenteau of Great Falls, Clarence “Clancy” Sivertsen of Belt, and Glen “Rusty” Zimmerman of Billings.

Several Montana communities will have poll sites for the election. These communities and sites are: Great Falls (Public Library), Butte (North American Indian Alliance), Havre (TBA), Browning (New Senior Citizen Center), Helena (Public Library), Billings (TBA), and Malta (TBA).

“Other tribal members, including those living outside of Montana, can vote by absentee ballot,” Faulkner said. “Ballots will be mailed to them soon. Absentee ballots can also be printed from the election Web site, www.littleshelltribe.com, printed, and mailed back. All absentee ballots are due back by 5 p.m., March 5.



Feburary 24, 2010

Candidates file for Little Shell Chippewa council

From the KFBB News

By KFBB News Team

Fourteen candidates have officially filed for the upcoming Little Shell Chippewa Tribal Council election.

The election is scheduled for March 6th...much of this election is attributed to protest over past Chairman John Sinclair. Three people have filed for Tribal Chairman, including; John Gilbert of Great Falls, Iris Kill Eagle of Dodson, and Scott Olson of Billings. Gerald Gray Jr. of Billings and Caroline Fleury of Great Falls will contest for the Vice-Chairman position.

Leona Kienenberger, the former Tribal Councilmember who resigned recently in protest over actions by past-Chairman John Sinclair, is running unopposed for 2nd Vice-Chair. Three people have filed for the Secretary-Treasurer position including; Tamra Hayes of Helena, Betty Hofeldt of Havre, and Robert Rudeseal of Great Falls. The three regular council seats have five candidates including; Alvina Allen of Harlem, Joel Overton of Helena, Richard Parenteau of Great Falls, Clarence “Clancy” Sivertsen of Belt, and Glen “Rusty” Zimmerman of Billings.

Several Montana communities will have poll-sites for the election. These communities and sites are; Great Falls (Public Library), Butte (North American Indian Alliance), Havre (TBA), Browning (New Senior Citizen Center), Helena (Public Library), Billings (TBA), and Malta (TBA).



Feburary 24, 2010

Little Shell Alliance names candidates

From the Great Falls Tribune

By Great Falls Tribune Staff

The candidates for the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance's March 6 election have been announced.

Fourteen candidates are vying for spots on the alliance's tribal council. The alliance is a rival group to the Little Shell Tribal Council, which the alliance believes was not duly-elected. The alliance was formed by tribal members dissatisfied with the leadership of Tribal President John Sinclair. The alliance called for this special election, which it says will elect members to replace the sitting tribal council, after a mail-in referendum vote of tribal members approved a series of constitutional amendments paving the way for the election. Sinclair has condemned the group's actions, calling them illegal, and has said the tribe will not recognize the results of the election. Running for tribal chairperson are John Gilbert of Great Falls, Iris Kill Eagle of Dodson and Scott Olson of Billings. Running for vice-chairperson are Gerald Gray Jr. of Billings and Caroline Fleury of Great Falls. Running unopposed for second vice-chairwoman is Leona Kienenberger, a former tribal council member who recently resigned in protest of Sinclair. Tamra Hayes of Helena, Betty Hofeldt of Havre, and Robert Rudeseal of Great Falls are running for secretary/treasurer.

Five candidates will be running to fill three regular council seats. They are Alvina Allen of Harlem, Joel Overton of Helena, Richard Parenteau of Great Falls, Clarence "Clancy" Sivertsen of Belt, and Glen "Rusty" Zimmerman of Billings. "It's great to see the amount of interest and the caliber of candidates in this election," said Karlene Faulkner, Election Committee chairwoman. Several poll sites will be available for the election, including The public libraries in Great Falls and Helena. In Butte, ballots can be cast at the North American Indian Alliance. In Browning, voters can cast their ballots at the New Senior Citizen Center. Polling sites in Havre, Billings and Malta will be announced at a later date. Tribal members also can vote by absentee ballot, which will be mailed soon, Faulkner said.

Absentee ballots also can be printed from www.littleshelltribe.com.



Feburary 17, 2010

Another Little Shell Tribal Council member has resigned

From the Great Falls Tribune

By Great Falls Tribune Staff

Leona Kienenberger of Dodson submitted her letter of resignation Tuesday. She said her move was in protest over actions by Tribal President John Sinclair.

Kienenberger's resignation follows that of tribal council member John LaSalle earlier this month. Both of them were voted in as council-at-large members and have been vocal opponents of Sinclair.

They also have supported a rival faction to the council, the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance.

Kienenberger's letter alleges that she was suspended from the council for criticizing tribal affairs.

"I can no longer justify my position as a council member when my voice in tribal matters is ignored," the letter states.



Feburary 16, 2010

PRESS RELEASE: Another Little shell Councilmember Resigns in Protest

From the Leona Kienenberger

Leona Kienenberger, of Dodson, submitted her letter of resignation today, from her seat on the Little Shell Chippewa Tribal Council, in protest over actions by John Sinclair, the disputed Tribal Chairman.

Kienenberger's resignation follows that of another Little Shell Councilmember, John LaSalle who also protested Sinclair's actions. In her letter of resignation Kienenberger stated:

"Please regard this letter as my official resignation from the Little Shell Tribal Council. Your and the council's attempt at "suspending" me for "criticizing and attempting to control, supervise or interfere in tribal affairs" proves that you believe that no other voice but yours is important. I can no longer justify my position as a council member when my voice in tribal matters is ignored. I was never allowed to ask any pertinent questions concerning important issues without you threatening to close the meeting, 'censure', or 'suspend' me. You never let our people know when a meeting is taking place, and you never follow proper parliamentary procedure in conducting a meeting, I don't wish to have our people believe that I condone the things you have allowed to happen: disenrolling and disqualifying long-standing and honorable candidates. Because of this disenrolling and disqualifying of candidates, you were never 'duly' elected. I believe your fellow council members Ronald "Cree" Doney, Steve Doney, Randy Randolph, (secretary/treasurer) and Ken Erickson are just as liable of infringing on the rights of our people as you are by condoning an illegal election and not affording our tribal membership with any judicial due process. I believe your stubbornness, inadequacy, and egotism have caused our tribe to lose the $417,000. Why has the State uncovered "sloppy bookkeeping that could lead to financial abuse"? Why has the tribe misspent past grants? Take a lesson from Montana tribal leaders who value a democratic election process and tribal justice system and are preserving the integrity of their membership. They are honest men and women who are not afraid to answer to their people. I hope through the Alliance's integrity and perseverance the Little Shell Tribe will gain back the trust of State government and the money that was lost."



Feburary 12, 2010

Little Shell newly appointed election committee is seeking candidates to fill all of its tribal council positions.

From the Great Falls Tribune

By Travis Colman
Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

A rival faction to Little Shell tribal leadership, the alliance is seeking to seat what it believes to be the tribe's only duly elected council. The alliance was formed by a group of tribal members who are dissatisfied with tribal President John Sinclair.

The alliance called for a special election after a referendum vote, in which about three-fourths of tribal members were mailed a ballot, approved a series of constitutional amendments. Sinclair has condemned the group's actions, calling them illegal.

The alliance's election will be held March 6, with spots open for all council and executive officer seats. To be eligible, candidates must be enrolled Little Shell Chippewa Tribe members, who are at least 18 years old and not been convicted of a felony. They also must pass a background check.

To file, candidates are asked to provide a letter of interest stating the desired position and pay a filing fee of $35. The filing deadline is Feb. 16. To file, contact the election committee at 2509 N. Montana Ave., PMB 320, Helena, MT 59601.

The election committee is comprised of Chairperson Anginette Bromlie-Estey, along with Skip Songer, Karlene Faulkner, Jesse Collins, Scott Martinez, Carol Suzey Doney Hofeldt and Francis E. Flesch.

The committee will provide more information on the election at online at www.littleshelltribe.com.

For more information, contact Bromlie-Estey at 594-1857 or by e-mail at montananative@live.com.



Feburary 11, 2010

Little Shell may lose $417,000 in stimulus funds

From the Great Falls Tribune

By Travis Colman
Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

About $417,000 in federal stimulus funds marked for the Little Shell Tribe could instead go toward curing the state's budget woes or be re-distributed among other tribes.

The tribe was tabbed to receive $617,000 in stimulus funds from the Montana Department of Commerce, but the department suspended that award in December over concerns with the tribe's accounting practices.

Now the department wants to send a portion of that money to the state's general fund to fulfill Gov. Brian Schweitzer's request that state agencies cut costs by 5 percent, according to department spokeswoman Marissa Kozel.

The commerce department's recommendation must be approved by the governor.

Tribal President John Sinclair said he was disappointed with the possible loss of the funds.

"It's just a lost opportunity for the tribe," Sinclair said.

He added that the money was to be used to renovate the tribe's Great Falls offices and to build a new office in Havre.

The tribe, which is headquartered in Great Falls, still is eligible to receive the remaining $200,000 in stimulus funds being held by the commerce department, if the tribe shows improvements in its accounting procedures. Kozel said the department is waiting to hear from the tribe on how it intends to improve its accounting.

Sinclair said the tribe and the commerce department are close to fixing the accounting problems, adding he hopes to have a resolution to the issue within a week.

If only a portion of the money slated to go to the tribe is awarded, the renovation in Great Falls would be scaled back and construction in Havre would be halted, Sinclair said.

If the state does keep the $400,000, it could also be divided among Montana's other seven Native American tribes. That's the desire of the State Tribal Economic Development Commission, a 12-member advisory group for the commerce department partly made up of council members from Montana's tribes. The commission voted to recommend redistributing the money during a meeting Wednesday in Helena.

Kozel said the department's recommendation was not influenced by the Little Shell Tribe's accounting foul-ups. She said it was more a "timing issue," given that the money was available to use at the time Schweitzer made his request.

"This was not an easy decision. We're entering tough times, and in these times, we need to make some tough decisions," Kozel said.

Each of Montana's eight tribes was eligible to receive $617,000 in stimulus funds last year as part of the Tribal Infrastructure and Energy Efficiency Reinvestment Project. All the tribes except the Little Shell have received the money, Kozel said.

Legislation stated that each tribe must receive at least $200,000 of its stimulus award, Kozel said.

The possible reallocation of the $400,000 is the latest in a string of money issues for the tribe.

When the state's departments of Commerce and Public Health and Human Services audited the tribe last year to ensure that state grants were being managed properly they uncovered sloppy bookkeeping that could lead to financial abuse. The tribe also misspent past grants, the audits stated.

That discovery led to state agencies withholding nearly $900,000 in grants and stimulus funds from the tribe because of concerns with the tribe's accounting. The total amount withheld includes a tobacco-use prevention grant and a commerce department grant, as well as the $617,000 in stimulus funding.



Feburary 11, 2010

Little Shell could lose $417K in stimulus

From the Billings Gazette News Service

State officials say $417,000 in federal stimulus money that had been slated for a Montana Indian tribe could instead go toward reducing a hole in the state’s budget.

That recommendation — which must be approved by the governor — comes after state audits of the tribe revealed that it suffered from sloppy accounting practices.

Marissa Kozel with the Commerce Department said the tribe remains eligible for $200,000 in stimulus funds, but first must prove it has its financial house in order.

With projections that the state could be running out of money by 2011, Gov. Brian Schweitzer has asked agencies to come up with plans to cut costs by 5 percent.

To reach that figure, the Montana Commerce Department wants to return to the general fund $417,000 in proposed stimulus money for the Little Shell.



Feburary 6, 2010

Little Shell Alliance forms committee to oversee election

From the KXLH 25 News Desk

Kay Rossi/KRTV

The Little Shell Alliance that is trying to change their tribe's constitution now has a committee in place to oversee their upcoming election.

The committee is made up of seven members and will be chaired by Anginette Bromlie-Estey from Helena.

James Parker Shield, Little Shell Alliance member, explained, "Those are all tribal members. Some of them are new faces, including hers. They're upset about what's going on and they want to get involved in reforming their tribal government, taking it back to the people."

Parker Shield says the committee will draft the details of the election that a portion of tribal members voted in last week.

The election will ask members to decide on multiple issues, including replacing current leadership.

Little Shell Tribe president John Sinclair has called the election illegal and has threatened to take action against the Alliance.

Sinclair said, "They've used some obscure idea that they have to justify it and they've gotten approximately 10% of the members to agree with it, so I don't know what else we can do. There's no point in getting upset about something that basically we really have no desire to control."

Sinclair says he is working to put together a three-judge panel to host a hearing on the actions of the Alliance.

The Little Shell Alliance is pushing forward with its election, which is set for March 6th.



Feburary 4, 2010

Little Shell Tribal Council member LaSalle resigns

From the KXLH 25 News Desk

Kay Rossi/KRTV

Earlier this week we told you about the Little Shell Alliance's plans for a special election, and today, a change to the Tribal Council was made without a vote being cast, as Council member John LaSalle submitted his resignation.

John Sinclair, Little Shell Tribal President, says he knew LaSalle was unhappy in the council and he says the resignation did not come as a surprise.

Sinclair noted, "They haven't supported this council for quite sometime and we knew that but we were trying to do things legally. We could've gone out and removed him if we wanted to but we're trying to do things legally."

Here is the full text of LaSalle's letter:

(to) John Sinclair
Chairman,LittleShellTribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana
905 Center St.
Havre,Mt.59401

John: In my opinion your actions have disgraced the Tribal Council and the LittleShell Tribe and made the Tribe the laughingstock of the state and especially of the other tribes in the state. You have been running the Tribe from behind closed doors and saying the council has made these decisions, when,I for one, didn't know anything about it.

I've never seen a printed agenda,I've never seen a copy of the minutes of prior meetings,let alone be asked to approve them, and the same with any monthly Fiscal Reports.I no longer wish to bang my head against the wall in a futile attempt to help the People,nor do I wish to be tarred with the same brush you are.

Therefore, as of this day,February 3,2010, I resign my seat on the LittleShell Tribal Council. (signed) John H. LaSalle

Webmaster Note:

Sinclair noted, "They haven't supported this council for quite sometime and we knew that but we were trying to do things legally. We could've gone out and removed him if we wanted to but we're trying to do things legally."

Why would Sinclair's first action, when someone disagrees with him and his policies, be to "Remove" them? This is the act of Tyranny and that of a dictatorship. And Sinclair wonder's why the tribal members do not support him at all?



Feburary 4, 2010

Upset with tribal leader, Little Shell councilman resigns

From the Great Falls Tribune

Travis Coleman
Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

A Little Shell Tribal Council member critical of tribal President John Sinclair has resigned.

John LaSalle, 62, announced his resignation Wednesday, saying he is dissatisfied with Sinclair, who LaSalle said made the Little Shell the "laughingstock" of the state and among other tribes. Sinclair said LaSalle is affiliated with the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance, a group of tribal members united against Sinclair.

LaSalle said he is not a member of the group, but that he agrees with the alliance's stance. Sinclair also alleges that LaSalle wanted to be on the council just to cause trouble and was about to be kicked off for not attending tribal meetings.

LaSalle was voted onto the council in May as a council-at-large member. He previously served on the council in 2000. LaSalle and Leona Kienenberger, another council member voted in last May, have publicly voiced their displeasure with Sinclair.

The tribe is supposed to have a seven-member council. Sinclair said someone will have to be temporarily appointed to LaSalle's spot on the council until a special election can be held to find a permanent replacement.

Webmaster Note: Sinclair knows that "Appointing" is a direct violation of the Tribal Consititution.
ARTICLE I,SECTION V.
"If a council member or Official shall die, resign permanently, leave his or her district or not be able to represent the district in the best interest of the Tribe or be found guilty of a felony or misdemeanor involving dishonesty in any Indian, State or Federal Court, the Executive Committee shall declare the position vacant and call a district special election to fill the vacancy."

LaSalle's resignation letter addresses Sinclair, stating, "You have been running the tribe from behind closed doors and saying the council has made these decisions, when no notifications, printed agendas, tribal financial statements or minutes of prior meetings have been provided, much less been asked to vote on these constitutionally mandated items.

"I no longer wish to bang my head against the wall in a futile attempt to help the people, nor do I wish to be tarred with the same brush you are," the letter states.

LaSalle echoed complaints made by the alliance in a news release, saying that Sinclair was not duly elected in May. Sinclair has previously denied any wrongdoing.

LaSalle also was critical of the tribe's mismanagement of state funds, which has led to the state suspending nearly $900,000 in grants and stimulus funds tabbed for the tribe.

Additionally, LaSalle said Sinclair is not authorized to conduct a three-judge tribunal against members of the alliance, which is running an election on March 6 to oust the current council. Sinclair has said he would like to conduct a tribunal, but has not yet set a date for the proceedings.

LaSalle is supporting the alliance's election while Sinclair and other tribal council members have said the election is illegitimate.

"Our tribe is being run by a guy who is acting as a dictator and has resorted to threats, lies and distortions," said LaSalle in the news release.

Feburary 3, 2010

PRESS RELEASE: Little Shell Tribal Council Member announces Resignation

From John LaSalle, Little Shell Council Member

For Immediate Release
Contact:
John LaSalle
(406) 352-3369

Little Shell Tribal Council Member announces Resignation

John LaSalle, a Little Shell Chippewa Tribal council member announced today his intention to resign his position on the Tribal Council in protest over former chairman John Sinclair’s “Corruption and Crimes against our tribe”.

In his resignation letter, LaSalle stated,” In my opinion your (John Sinclair) actions have disgraced the Tribal Counsel and the Little Shell Tribe and made the Tribe the laughingstock of the state and in the eyes of other Tribal nations”. John continued “You (John Sinclair) have been running the Tribe from behind closed doors and saying the council has made these decisions, when no notifications, printed agendas, tribal financial statements, or minutes of prior meetings have been provided, much less been asked to vote on these constitutionally mandated items. I no longer wish to bang my head against the wall in a futile attempt to help the People, nor do I wish to be tarred with the same brush you (John Sinclair) are.”

“I also feel that Sinclair was not duly elected in an election authorized by the Tribal Constitution nor authorized or approved by the Tribal People. It is suspect when you count ballots in secret a day before they were to be counted in the open, publically”, LaSalle said. “John Sinclair is dragging our tribe into the ground with financial mismanagement, crooked elections, and threatening to ‘Try’ any tribal member who opposes Mr. Sinclair rule in ‘Tribunals ‘or ‘Three judge panels’ when such actions are not authorized by the Tribal members and are not part of our own Tribal Constitution.” LaSalle continued, “Our tribe is being run by a guy who is acting as a dictator and has resorted to threats, lies, and distortions”.

“Our only hope is for the State of Montana to recognize the will of the Little Shell People when they voted in March 2009 to affirm that Sinclair and his people no longer represented the Tribe and tribal members authorized new tribal elections. These new elections are now being conducted following the recent Constitutional Amendments to our Constitution and fully authorized by Tribal members.” stated LaSalle. “It is interesting to note that the volume of Tribal members who voted to approve these Amendments far surpass any that were cast in any previous tribal election”. LaSalle continued, “This new constitutionally mandated Election will be at the will of the Little Shell Chippewa People and not that of a self-proclaimed tyrant. It makes me proud that the Little Shell People care so much for our tribe that they would take these actions to clean up the mess left by Sinclair.”, LaSalle concluded.



Feburary 2, 2010

Little Shell opposition sets March 6 election

From the Associated Press via KULR

GREAT FALLS - An opposition faction within Montana's Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians has scheduled a March 6 election, in defiance of the tribe's president and some council members who says the move is illegitimate.

The 4,300 member, loose-knit tribe has been roiled during the last six months by a denial of its petition for federal recognition and the suspension of government grants and stimulus money.

Members of the Little Shell Alliance, a group upset with the direction of the tribal government, circumvented the tribal council and President John Sinclair to set up the March election. The alliance says more than 400 tribal members supported the election in a recent referendum.

Sinclair says he's trying to set up a three-judge tribunal to put Alliance members on trial. But he says that could take months and won't be done by the March 6 election.



Feburary 1, 2010

PRESS RELEASE: Little Shell Chippewa Tribal Council Special Election Announced

From the Little Shell Tribal Election Committee

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

Contact: Anginette Bromlie-Estey
(406) 594-1857

Little Shell Chippewa Tribal Council Special Election Announced

The newly appointed Little Shell Chippewa Election Committee will be conducting a Special Election for all seven (7) Tribal Council positions according to Anginette Bromlie-Estey, Election Committee Chairperson.

"According to the Constitution Amendments approved by tribal voters, a Special Election must be held within 30 days" stated Estey. "Therefore, we are providing public notice that Election Day for positions on the Little Shell Chippewa Tribal Council (both 2-year Council seats and 4-year Executive Officer seats) will be held on March 6, 2010."

"To be an eligible candidate, you must be an enrolled member of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe, at least 18 years of age, and not have been convicted of a felony and must pass a background check." added Estey. "The filing deadline to be a candidate for Tribal Council is February 16, 2010."

Bromlie-Estey added, "Potential candidates are asked to provide a letter of interest to file, stating specifically which position, and pay a filing fee of thirty five dollars which will be used to conduct the background check."

Members of the Election Committee, along with Chair Person Anginette Estey are:
Skip Songer, Karlene Faulkner, Jesse Collins, Scott Martinez, Carol Suzey Doney Hofeldt, and Francis E. Flesch.

The Election Committee will be providing public information on polling sites, election guidelines, and so forth within the next couple of days.

Address for Candidate Filings and other correspondence for the Election Committee is:
Little Shell Election Committee
2509 N. Montana Ave.
PMB 320
Helena, MT 59601

For more information, please contact Anginette Bromlie-Estey at (406)-594-1857.



January 28, 2010

Cobell settlement prompts individual research

From the Missoulean

By Duke LaRance
Choteau

I am a member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana and am listed as a Pembina Descendent on the roles of the Turtle Mountain (ND) Agency. I got totally and unconscionably ripped off in the distribution of the “Ten Cent Treaty” settlement, but that is water under the bridge, and I am not bitter.

Recently, when going through old papers, I found three old statements sent to me by the Turtle Mountain Agency. The first was from the accounting period Sept. 1, 1993 to Sept. 30, 1993 showing a balance of 3 cents. The second was from the accounting period Oct. 1, 2003 to Oct. 31, 1993 showing a balance of 3 cents. The third was from the accounting period March 26, 2000 to June 25, 2000 showing a balance of 0 cents!

Wondering how the Cobell lawsuit settlement might affect me, I did a Google search. As we all know, we can’t trust everything on the Web, except for what I post. I urge anyone who might be qualified to be a recipient to do their own research. The following is a synopsis of items that may pertain to my situation:

There are two different classes (or “bunches,” as we say). The first is the “Historical Accounting Class” which will likely payout $1,500 to each recipient. To qualify, one must have had an open account between June 25, 1994 and Sept. 3, 2009 with at least one transaction during that period.

To qualify for the “Trust Administrative Class” one must have or had an account during the “Electronic Registration Era” from approximately 1985 to the present. This will pay out $500 per person plus a pro rata share of the meager scraps left over after the lawyers’ subsequent feeding frenzy. Most will qualify for both classes.

So it looks like a will be able to buy a very nice car with my $500. And as far as I am concerned, I damned well better also qualify for the larger amount. Somewhere along the way, my 3 cents was looted and I want it back pronto, Tonto! If my 3 cents was looted after the magical date of June 25, 1994, then that very act of piracy was the one required transaction, init? Maybe I’ll be able to buy nice cars for my wife and kids, too!

Duke LaRance,
Choteau



January23, 2010

State keeps Little Shell funds on hold

From the Great Falls Tribune

By Travis Coleman
Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

State agencies remain skeptical of the Little Shell Tribe's accounting and said this week that they will continue to withhold almost $900,000 in grants and federal stimulus funds marked for the tribe.

Tribal President John Sinclair said Friday that he was disappointed but he will continue to work with the state to correct the tribe's accounting problems.

"We want to do things right, but we need to get people to do that for us," Sinclair said.

According to the Jan. 20 letter sent to the tribe by attorneys for the state's Commerce and Public Health and Human Services departments, Sinclair didn't adequately answer concerns over the tribe's accounting practices.

Both state departments audited the tribe last year to ensure that state grants were being managed properly, but instead uncovered sloppy bookkeeping that could lead to financial abuse. The tribe had also misspent past grants, the audits state.

Last month, the state asked the tribe to show it was putting viable accounting and administrative systems in place. On Jan. 4, the state received the tribe's response — notations typed in red on the state's letter, according to the Jan. 20 letter.

The Jan. 20 letter states: "No other documents or materials were received, with the exception of a cover letter that stated in closing 'At this point I would like a definite date of the continuation of the grants designated to the tribe, and would request that the governor's office issue a press release publicizing that date.'"

The letter states that the tribe did not clear up confusion on the relationship between it and a Little Shell nonprofit organization, making it unclear which entity the state is contracting with. The origin of the nonprofit agency and its exact purpose also is not clear, the letter states.

Sinclair said the tribe's fiscal manager position would be contracted to Douglas Wilson and Company of Great Falls.

However, Douglas Wilson officials told the state they had not agreed to be the tribe's fiscal manager and did not have the capacity to do that job. Limited spending oversight is among 13 areas the state agencies continue to be concerned about.

Because of this, the state will continue to withhold an $180,000 tobacco-use prevention grant, along with $617,000 in stimulus money tabbed for the tribe. A Commerce Department grant for $70,000 is set to go directly to the purchase of the tribe's new Great Falls facility at 1626 6th Ave. N., not to the tribe or nonprofit.

Sinclair said some of the answers the state needs could come when the tribe sends the agencies its updated accounting manual, which wasn't sent on Jan. 4 by error.

As for the state's other concerns, "I'm still not sure what they want," Sinclair said.

The letter to the tribe comes as a faction of tribal members within the 4,300 member tribe is pushing for the ouster of Sinclair, in part because of the problems with the state funds.

Sinclair plans to hold the tribe's first ever tribunal to put members of the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance on trial for conducting what he has called an "illegal" referendum election, among other allegations.



January22, 2010

State still holding Little Shell tribe money awaiting financial answers

From the Associated Press via the Great Falls Tribune

From the Associated Press via the Billings Gazette

By Associated Press

State officials say they will continue to withhold almost $900,000 in grants and stimulus funds from Montana's Little Shell Indians after the tribe's president failed to answer concerns over its accounting practices.

Audits last year by the Departments of Commerce and Public Health and Human Services revealed shoddy accounting within the tribe had opened the door to potential financial abuse.

In a Jan. 20 letter, attorneys from the two agencies said $180,000 for tobacco use prevention and $70,000 for economic development remain suspended. A $617,000 federal stimulus grant that the state Legislature directed toward the tribe is also on hold.

A rival faction within the 4,300 member tribe is pushing for the ouster of President John Sinclair, in part because of the problems with the state funds.



January 21, 2010

PRESS RELEASE: State Holds Little Shell Chippewa Stimulus Funds

From the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance

For Immediate Release:

Contact:
Robert Rudeseal 868-5588
James Parker Shield 590-1745

State Holds Little Shell Chippewa Stimulus Funds

In a January 20 letter from attorneys for the Montana Department of Commerce and Department of Public Health and Human Services, the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe was informed that the Tribal Infrastructure and Energy Efficiency Reinvestment Program funds, known as "stimulus" funds along with Tobacco Prevention funding would continue to be held by the state over concerns about the tribes lack of accounting and management.

The State also raised questions about the relationship between the tribe and its non-profit organization, according to leaders of the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance.

"Mr. Sinclair tried to snow the state government about how he has mismanaged programs and monies that are vital and needed by our people," stated Robert Rudeseal of the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance. "More importantly, as more of this mess comes out, people will be able to connect the dots between how Sinclair is trying to establish a tribal government that operates on intimidation and made-up "tribunals" and secretive financial dealings." added Rudeseal. "The Little Shell people applaud the state governments due diligence and over-sight in this matter."

Letter from Montana Department of Commerce and Department of Public Health and Human Services to Sinclair



January 16, 2010

Little Shell Alliance's Initial referendum ballots support special election

From the Great Falls Tribune

By TRAVIS COLEMAN
Tribune Staff Writer

An initial ballot count showed support to amend the Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians' constitution Friday, which would pave the way for a special election to replace the tribe's council.

The election was conducted by the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance, a group of tribal members who are dissatisfied with the direction of the tribe under the leadership of tribal Chairman John Sinclair.

The final referendum ballot count will be held Jan. 30 to allow more time for the more than 3,000 ballots mailed out to tribal members to be returned. But the count of returned ballots at War Shield Development on Friday showed members supported amending the constitution, by a margin of 365 votes to 6 votes. The tribe has more than 4,300 members spread out across the state.

Three state legislators — Sen. Joe Tropila, D-Great Falls; Rep. Jesse O-Hara, R-Great Falls; and Rep. Bill Wilson, D-Great Falls — were on hand to observe the election and make sure it was legitimately conducted.

Sinclair has condemned the alliance's election, calling it illegal. He also has announced plans for the tribe's first ever tribunal to put alliance members on trial.

The alliance hopes to change the tribe's 32-year-old constitution, which they say does not adequately address elections, term-limits or offer a remedy for election disputes. Alliance members said its proposed amendments would institute fairness and balance in elections, along with adding a separation of powers for the tribe's judicial system.

"(The amendments also) allow for special elections to happen," alliance Vice Chairman Robert Rudeseal said.

He added that if the amendments are approved, a special election could be held within 60 days. An elder's council would set up the election committee.

Dissatisfaction with Sinclair led to the formation of the alliance in mid-2008. The group has said that the current tribal government was not fairly elected because some candidates were disqualified or disenrolled from the tribe prior to election day, among other complaints.

The alliance also believes the tribe is suffering under Sinclair's leadership after $867,000 in grants and stimulus money were withheld by the state when officials discovered what they said were poor accounting practices by the tribe.

The alliance held a mail-in election in March asking members if the alliance should be in charge of conducting the tribe's elections, which had been delayed. Results supported the alliance.

In October, The Little Shell's 31-year bid for federal recognition — which would allow for health care and housing benefits, among other benefits available only to recognized tribes — was denied by the U.S. Department of Interior.



January 15, 2010

Little Shell Chippewa Tribe Members Count Amendment Ballots

From the KFBB: Montana's News Channel

For more than 30 years now, the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe has been fighting to gain recognition from the federal government. But Friday, the tribe's internal affairs took the spotlight, as members voted whether or not to amend part of their tribal constitution.

Members of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe have dealt with struggles for years. Friday, a group of concerned members gathered in the hopes of changing the tribe's election rules, after a delayed election last year that some call "fraudulent."

"We wanted to basically force a new election and improve and reform our tribal government and how we conduct elections," explained tribe member James Parker Shield.

"These ballots are giving us the go ahead to hold- make an amendment to hold our new election,” noted John Gilbert, Chair of the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance. “And we're doing this with the blessing of the tribal members."

At this point, the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance has the blessing of the 365 members who voted to pass amendments to the tribal constitution that would set specific election rules and separate the branches of tribal government.

Only 6 members of the tribe voted no, however, the tribe is said to have 4,300 members. Disputes over the 2009 election and Chairman John Sinclair's accounting practices have caused contention within the tribe.

"Enough is enough,” said Gilbert. “We've had enough of this bickering, this corruption, all of this. We're all tired of it... This way here we'll get us a new governing body. This bickering will stop. This fighting will come to an end. We have more important things to focus on."

Yet Alliance members say the election issues have little to do with the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe's struggle with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

"Our struggle, internally, does not have any bearing whatsoever on our Federal recognition,” Shield said. “In fact, in Washington D.C., they barely know we exist."

The alliance planned to seal the votes and send them home with a local legislator.

Absentee voters still have two weeks to request and return ballots before the final tally.



January 15, 2010

Little Shell opposition plans election to replace Tribal Council in February

From the Associated Press Via the Missoulean

BILLINGS - Leaders of an opposition faction within Montana's Little Tribe of Chippewa Indians are planning an election to replace the existing Tribal Council.

John Gilbert with the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance says the election will be in February. He says a mail-in referendum tallied Friday supported the move by a 365 to 6 vote margin.

Tribal Chairman John Sinclair says he asked his supporters not to participate in a process he called illegal. Sinclair wants to hold the tribe's first ever tribunal and put members of the Alliance on trial.

The push for political sea change within the tribe comes after state officials withheld $867,000 in grants and stimulus money because of the Little Shell's poor accounting practices.

The landless, 4,300 member tribe is recognized by the state. In October, its 31-year bid for federal recognition was denied by the U.S. Department of Interior.



January 13, 2010

PRESS RELEASE: Little Shell Constitutional Amendment Absentee Ballots return time extended

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
John Gilbert (406) 590-1745
James Parker Shield (406) 590-1745

Deadline for Absentee Ballots has been extended by 2 weeks

(Great Falls, MT) Little Shell Tribal members have asked the LSCA to extend the deadline to get in their Absentee Ballots for the Constitutional Amendment Election and the LSCA has responded by extending the Deadline by 2 weeks. What this means is that on Friday, January 15, 2010, at 1pm, there will be a preliminary count of received ballots and to allow in-person voting at 300 2nd Ave S., Suite #2, Great Falls, MT 59401. The New Deadline that the Absentee Ballots must be received is 1pm Saturday, January 30, 2010. Ballots must be mailed to:

Little Shell Chippewa Alliance
Attn: Constitutional Amendment Ballot
PO Box 308
Black Eagle, MT 59414-0308

Ballots can also be dropped off during normal working hours till Jan 29th and on January 30th before 1pm at:

300 2nd Ave S.
Suite #2
Great Falls, MT 59401

Copies of the ballots are available by emailing the Alliance at Contact@LittleShellChippewaAlliance.org, or by downloading copies off of the Alliance Website at http://www.LittleShellChippewaAlliance.org and at tribal member websites at http://www.LittleShellTribe.com and http://www.LittleShellTribe.us.

The Ballots will be counted on January 30, 2010, 1pm at 300 2nd Ave S., Suite #2, Great Falls, MT 59401. The Public is Welcome to view the counting.



January 8, 2010

WEBMASTER NOTE: John Sinclair and Office workers threaten Tribal Members

Word is being passed to this website from Tribal Members that threats are being made against any tribal member who votes in this Constitutional Amendment Election. Beyond the Threats announced by John Sinclair in TV Interviews and newspaper article to "Sanction" and "Hold Tribunals" against anyone participating in this election, basically, a Tribal Member will call the tribal office and ask for a copy of their tribal Member ID Number and are being denied this basic service and told that "If you vote or take part in this election, you will be prosecuted".

As everyone knows, this is a free country and no government official, citizen, or even a visitor to this nation can interfere with your Basic Constitutional Rights. Nor can you be prosecuted, punished, or harmed in your exercise of your rights. The United States is not a Tyranny, nor is it governed by Fascists who rule with the iron fist of Threats and violence. But this has not stopped the Sinclair Administration and his cohorts from resorting to the lowest of the lows and attempt to disenfranchise each and every tribal member of their basic rights. Being a Tribal member does not take away any of the rights protected by the US Constitution and the Montana State Constitution.

This is what Federal law says about your Constitutional rights: US Code TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 13 > § 241,

§ 241. Conspiracy against rights

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or

If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—

They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

Saying that, it is ALSO the Right of every tribal member to redress their grievances. To that end, it is even MORE important that Tribal Members vote FOR these Constitutional Amendments. First to ensure that no power hungry despot will ever again revoke your right to a representative government. Second, to ensure that YOU have the right to redress your grievances against the Government or any other legal question by voting FOR a Judicial Branch of our Government that is separate but equal with the Council. These are the things that Sinclair and his Cabal are afraid of.. Power exercised BY the PEOPLE who are Exercising their G_D Given Rights. The root of our Tribal Government belongs TO the People.. In other words, the Council ANSWERS to the People, not the other way around. Period, final, end of story.

Until we get our government fixed and operating for the people again, you still have several avenues to redress your grievances. Sinclair and his Cabal, since they unconstitutionally cancelled the 2008 elections, our council has not been approved or authorized by our Tribal Constitution or Tribal members. In other words we have been without an elected government for over a year now (since Dec 2008). These are renegade tribal citizens who are controlling OUR tribal offices, accessing our tribal bank accounts, falsely representing themselves as our representatives when they are not. You have the ability to file complaints with several State and Federal Agencies for violating your Civil Rights, and you can ask for investigations and prosecutions. Here are some resources you can go to file your complaints against those who are threatening you for simply exercising your Constitutional rights.:

US Department Justice:
FBI Online Tip Line

Click here to find your local FBI Office

US Commission on Civil Rights:
Telephone: 1-800-552-6843 or (202) 376-8513
Hearing Impaired: 1-800-877-8339
E-Mail: referrals@usccr.gov

Montana Attorney General's Office:
You may contact the Montana Department of Justice and Attorney General Steve Bullock's Office by phone, fax, surface mail and e-mail. Please include your mailing address, so that we can provide you with complete information when responding to your inquiry.

Attorney General Steve Bullock
Department of Justice
P.O. Box 201401
Helena, MT 59620-1401

Phone: (406) 444-2026<
BR> Fax: (406) 444-3549 E-mail: contactdoj@mt.gov



January 8, 2010

Letter to the Editor: On the right track

From the Great Falls Tribune

By Little Shell Tribal Council members Leona Kienenberger and John LaSalle

John Sinclair's article in the Dec. 31 Great Falls Tribune for the most part is untrue. As council members we were not informed about the decision that the election attempt by the Alliance cannot be tolerated and they (the council) plan to call a tribunal to deal with the violations. In our opinion, the decision was Sinclair's alone. Furthermore, there is no such thing as "tribunal" or "sanctions" in our tribal constitution. In fact, our tribe is without a judicial system, so we don't understand how Sinclair can "call a tribunal and sanction Alliance members for illegal actions."

Disenrolling and disqualifying of certain candidates from running in the last election are an atrocity. Some of the disenrolled have been members of the Little Shell tribe for years, why were they suddenly disenrolled?

And disqualifying candidates on such charges as campaigning is an absolute crime. Those members were not even afforded a fair hearing which is totally against our constitution or our moral obligations.

If we had had a judicial system in place, this would never have happened.

We believe the Alliance is on the right track in trying to address some wrongs that need to be corrected. We encourage tribal members to fill out the constitutional ballots and mail them in. It is time to reunite our tribe and concentrate on getting the federal recognition that has eluded us for too long.

Leona Kienenberger, Dodson, and John LaSalle, Box Elder



January 1, 2010

PRESS RELEASE: LITTLE SHELL CHIPPEWA ALLIANCE RESPONDS TO ALLEGATIONS BY JOHN SINCLAIR

From the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance

By LSCA

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: James Parker Shield Tel: (406) 590-1745

The Little Shell Chippewa alliance is more than a "Splinter group". According to John Gilbert, its Chairman, the Alliance represents the feelings and frustrations of the majority of our tribal members who are sick and tired of John Sinclair's threats, his made up "Tribunals", his "Sanctions", and his attempts to disenroll and disenfranchise citizens from the tribe. We are enrolled tribal members who are fed up with those who claim power and tribal office without any constitutional authority.

Sinclair is very worried about the ballots that were mailed out to tribal members amending our Tribal Constitution, according to Article III, Section XI of that very same constitution which states:

"Any rights and powers heretofore vested in the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana but not expressly referred to in this Constitution shall not be abridged by this Article but may be exercised by the people of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians through adoption of the appropriate by-laws and constitutional Amendments."

Mr. Sinclair claims that only a referendum authorized by him can amend our constitution. Mr. Sinclair needs to actually read our constitution as a referendum is only used to change resolutions passed by the council. The authority to amend our constitution is founded with the Tribal People themselves. Not a council or a deluded tribal member who claims he is the president nor has any constitutional authority to claim such an office.

Sinclair is in opposition to having open, fair, and honest elections and a foundation for a Tribal Judicial System. It is very obvious Sinclair does not want the tribal members to exercise their constitutional right to vote and participate in their own governmental process; instead he threatens and is bound and determined to disenfranchise all tribal members.

It reminds us of the quotation used by President Obama only a few days ago when speaking about the Iranian Government Repression and the Killing of 15 protesters. Obama said "It is telling when a government fears the aspirations of its own people". Sinclair is afraid of the aspirations and expectations of Tribal Citizens and is lashing out at his own people.

It is very important that our people fill out the ballots and mail them back in order to stand up to this act of tyranny and to show that we will not be threatened or frightened by a bully.



December 31, 2009

Little Shell leader slams Alliance's election attempt

From the Great Falls Tribune

By Travis Colman
Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

The chairman of the Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians on Wednesday condemned an election organized by a splinter group of tribal members who want to amend the tribe's constitution.

John Sinclair said tribal attorney Robert Lafountain advised him that the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance's election attempt is illegal and that it violates the constitution the group hopes to change.

Alliance members contend the constitutional amendments election would institute fairness and balance in elections, along with a separation of powers for the tribe's judicial system.

Sinclair asserts that constitutional changes can only come about by a referendum vote called by the sitting tribal council or by a constitutional convention of a majority of the tribe's more than 4,600 members.

In 2010, the tribe will look to continue its effort to gain federal recognition after being rejected by the Office of Federal Acknowledgement in October. But there also has been bickering among tribal members this year, with some forming the Alliance in response to their dissatisfaction with Sinclair.

Sinclair said the tribal council has decided that the election attempt cannot be tolerated and they plan to call a tribunal to deal with the violations. Sinclair added that strict sanctions against Alliance members could follow.

He also is advising tribal members to ignore any mailings from the group.

The Alliance mailed out more than 3,000 ballots to Little Shell tribal members earlier this week. The group hopes to change the tribe's 32-year-old constitution, which they say does not adequately address elections, term limits or offer remedy for election disputes. Alliance members reiterated their past criticism of Sinclair in a letter included in the ballot mailings.

"Our past tribal chairman/president and his counsel (sic) have attempted to remain in office by first postponing the last election by five months and then arbitrarily and illegally disqualifying and 'disenrolling' opposing council candidates in a fraudulent election process in May 2009," the letter states.

Sinclair previously denied any wrongdoing.

The letter also states that the tribe does not have a duly-elected tribal government, which Alliance members say hampers its federal recognition effort and the opportunity to get state funding.

The returned ballots are set to be counted by the Alliance on Jan. 15 at 300 2nd Ave. S., Suite No. 2 in Great Falls.

Sinclair said the tribal council has decided that the election attempt cannot be tolerated and they plan to call a tribunal to deal with the violations. Sinclair added that strict sanctions against Alliance members could follow.



WEBMASTER NOTE: John Sinclair makes quite a few unwarranted and inaccurate statements. As shown in the meeting with the Montana state Government on December 1, 2009 (See earlier article below), Sinclair admitted he has no idea what our tribal laws are or even how do the basics of running our government including writing Tribal Resolutions. But because Sinclair is clueless about our own tribal laws, we will explain some of them here :

1)"Sinclair asserts that constitutional changes can only come about by a referendum vote called by the sitting tribal council or by a constitutional convention of a majority of the tribe's more than 4,600 members."

ARTICLE VI. Section I of the tribal constitution states : "This Constitution and By-Laws may be amended by a majority vote of the qualified voters of the Tribe VOTING AT ELECTIONS called for that purpose." What this mean is that Amendments to our constitution are accomplished by those voting in an election specifically called to amend our constitution.

But who calls the election? That question is answered in Article III, Section XI which specifically states:"Any rights and powers heretofore vested in the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana but not expressly referred to in this Constitution shall not be abridged by this Article but may be exercised BY THE PEOPLE of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians through adoption of the appropriate by-laws and constitutional Amendments.".


This means that CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT Elections are originated BY THE PEOPLE OF THE LITTLE SHELL TRIBE OF CHIPPEWA INDIANS, not Sinclair, nor any council, nor ANY CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION. Referendums are only used to get by-laws passed through a stubbern council as detailed in Article IV, section I of our Tribal constitution that states "Upon petition of at least one half of the voters of the Executive board or upon the request of the majority of the members, any enacted or proposed ordinances or resolution of the Executive Committee shall be submitted to popular referendum and the vote of a majority of the attending voters on such referendum shall be conclusive and binding on the committee."

Mr. Sinclair made a bold faced lie to the Great Falls Tribune , KRTV, and to the public at large when he falsely stated that only he and/or his "Council" are the only one who can call for an election to amend our constitution. Mr. Sinclair also states in the article that his personal lawyer, Mr. Lafountain told him this. Any competant lawyer reading our constitution (a copy of which is freely available at all little shell websites) can see that constitutional amendments are originated by the people themselves and not a tyrannical government led by Mr. Sinclair.

2) Sinclair states ”Sinclair said the tribal council has decided that the election attempt cannot be tolerated and they plan to call a tribunal to deal with the violations. Sinclair added that strict sanctions against Alliance members could follow.”

Myself and other tribal members have contacted members of Sinclair’s “Council” and not one of them have been contacted by Mr. Sinclair about these elections, nor any we contacted had voted upon ANY Resolutions that condemn this Article XI constitutional amendment election nor authorized tribunals against tribal members exercising their Article XI constitutional rights.
3) Sinclair States”He also is advising tribal members to ignore any mailings from the group”
This is a completely shamefull act of Tyranny by Sinclair. He is demanding that Tribal members NOT EXERCISE Their CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS to a REPRESENTATIVE Government and to a Constitution that allows for Redress of Grievances. Only Tyrants and Dictators try to suppress civil liberties of the people they claim to lead. This places Sinclair with other Tyrants and Dictators like Stalin, Pol Pot, Mussolini, Hitler, Lenin, Milosevic, Park, Tojo, Saddam Hussein, Kim Il Jong, Fidel Castro, and Hugo Chavez, Edid Amin, and the list goes on.

Mr. Sinclair needs to stop lying to the Press, to the State of Montana, to the Federal Government, and especially to the Tribal People. He must also take responsibility for his corrupt and illegal actions and must face the Tribal people before a constitutionally mandated Judicial system. He must also face Justice in the US and State courts for what he has done with State and Federal money. He must do this now as he is shaming our people, our tribe, and our way of life. Period.



December 30, 2009

The State of Montana releases notes about December 1, 2009 meeting between John Sinclair and the MT Government.

From the LSCA Website

By Little Shell Chippewa Alliance

The State released copies of the letter and notes made during the December 1, 2009 meeting between John Sinclair and the State of Montana. Several revelations about how Sinclair mishandled hundreds of thousands of Dollars of Tribal grant monies.

2009-12-16 Letter to Sinclair From MT Govt

2009-12-01 State-LST Meeting Notes

1) The state is concerned that Sinclair has not explained to the state how the Tribal Secretary of the Treasurer position is to be filled if vacant. Sinclair has replied to the state that he is unaware of the Tribal Procedures to replace council members. Our tribal constitution specifically says that if a Council position is vacant then a SPECIAL ELECTION MUST BE HELD to fill the position. Sinclair has violated our laws and Constitution by either appointing someone illegally to the position, in particular direct family members, or he has failed to comply with our laws and has refused to hold a special election and in fact and in reality, Mr. Sinclair has illegally assumed the duties of Secretary/Treasurer himself including taken control of all accounts and monies from the tribal office and put them into his personal control at his home with no accounting, reporting, and transparency. This has allowed hundreds of thousands of Tribal monies to be unaccounted for as noted in the Limited Audit of the Tobacco programs by the State of Montana of which is documented and available here:

November 9, 2009 followup letter from Montana Dept of Commerce and Dept of Public Health and Human services regarding State Contracts with the Little Shell Tribe and announcement of Meeting on Dec 1, 2009.

Sinclair Tobacco Audit Report Part 1

Sinclair Tobacco Audit Report Part 2

Sinclair Tobacco Audit Report Part 3

2) The State asked Sinclair why his council does not use Resolutions to document decisions, laws, and approvals for financial payments as done with other tribes. Sinclair stated that he DID NOT KNOW HOW TO PREPARE TRIBAL RESOLUTIONS. This is further proof how incompetent John Sinclair is. Resolutions have been used since day one in our tribe, with the exception of his tenure it seems. Sinclair is telling the state that he does not know what our own constitution and laws are and that he is unable to figure them out so he has completely disregarded Tribal Laws, By-Laws, and Constitutional limitations.

3) The State has told Sinclair that the Contracts that awarded the Grant Money from the State strictly forbid using any of it for political purposes. Sinclair has stated that “No Money has been used for Political Purposes”. Anyone who has read ANY of the Newsletters published by the tribe where on the newsletter it states “This newsletter is provided by the Little Shell Tobacco Program”, and has read Sinclair's “Presidents Corner” knows that this statement that Sinclair told the state is a bold face lie. Every article of Sinclair’s is Political in nature, especially the last two that were published in March and April of 2009 where Sinclair published bank accounts and records and made false accusations against Tribal members in which John Sinclair must now face a State District Court Lawsuit that accuses him of Slander. Sinclair made these statements while he was beyond his term of office and was not authorized to spend ANY TRIBAL MONEY as there was and still is no legal and authorized tribal council.

This is just three items showing how incompetent John Sinclair is and how he tries to hide the fact that he cannot account for over 70% of the monies the Tribe has received from the State of Montana. The sorry part of all this is, is the fact that this is just ONE small grant. The tribe has had dozens of Grants awarded to it from both state and federal funds, if you add it all up, it will come to several hundreds of thousands of dollars that John Sinclair cannot account for. This money belongs to the tribal members. Not to Sinclair, not to any “Appointed” council he creates, or even those he decides are “Deserving” of this money. Only the Tribal Members and their Representatives have the power to decide what to do with this money, and the tribe itself is obligated to honor the contracts it enters into with the State and Federal Agencies and the majority of the money must be spent and allocated as per the limitations of the individual contracts. John Sinclair has been caught with his furry paw in the cookie jar and he and his cronies must be held accountable before the Tribal Members. And that is YOU!

Tribal members have two choices. Allow this incompetent person to continue his actions, or stand up for yourself and your Tribe and return our government to whom it belongs, the people themselves. If you take a stand, vote to amend our constitution to allow for special elections called for when those in our government take it upon themselves to commit treason against our people. Vote for a New council that is subservient to the people and not a Self-Declared Tyrant.

Once you allow for a Judicial system in our Constitution, you can redress your grievances, civil rights violations, and other things you feel that Sinclair and his cronies have committed against you or other tribal members. Also, you have the RIGHT and the Obligation to file complaints with Federal and State agencies (FBI, US Attorneys Office, State Attorney General, State and Federal IRS Agencies, Federal and State Labor Boards, Federal Social Security agencies, State and federal Worker’s Compensation services) if you feel that Sinclair has misused these State and Federal Funds, if you feel he has violated State and Federal Non-Profit laws.

No one can do this for you. Simply write a letter, send an e-mail, call these state and federal agencies and file formal complaints against Sinclair and hold him accountable for his actions.

ABOVE ALL.. YOU must make sure your voice will forever be heard in our Government and not suppressed by a Tyrant. You must use your power of the VOTE to replace the corrupt who control the keys to our Governement.. YOU MUST VOLUNTEER and RUN FOR COUNCIL to ensure these corrupt people are held accountable. ONLY YOU can take the reigns of our tribal government and lead our tribe to success. If you don’t then the corrupt will succeed and not only will we NEVER receive Recognition, but our Tribe will forever be shamed and forgotten.



December 28, 2009

Little Shell Chippewa Constitutional Amendment Ballots Mailed

From the LSCA Website

By Little Shell Chippewa Alliance

December 28, 2009

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

John Gilbert (406) 590-1745
James Parker Shield (406) 590-1745
Robert Rudeseal (406) 868-5588

(Great Falls,MT) On Monday, Dec 28, 2009, over three thousand (3000) letters containing Information, ballot, and Tribal Constitutional Amendment language were mailed to Little Shell Tribal Members. The Constitutional Amendments will allow for new fair and balanced Tribal Elections and the foundation of a Tribal Judicial System.

“We need to settle this on-going dispute over our last few tribal elections where the right of tribal members to vote were cancelled, and candidates running against former chairman John Sinclair and his council were either ‘disqualified’ or even ‘dis-enrolled’ from the tribe and where tribal member were not allowed to even ask for an appeal or review of Sinclair’s actions. We decided to go back to the people with these proposed amendments to our tribes Constitution”, stated John Gilbert, Chairman of the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance.

“The language in our tribal constitution clearly provides for an amendment process that is voted on by the people. This process does not need the approval of the Tribal Council, nor is the ballot process under the council’s jurisdiction in any way. Because our last election was clearly fraudulent and because we cannot have the question of John Sinclair’s claim to be our ‘duly elected’ tribal leader, heard in either a federal or state court, we believe it is necessary to amend the language in our constitution to allow for new fair and unbiased tribal elections.

“These amendments provide for a more democratic and detailed election process and provide for a judicial system that will allow tribal members to exercise their rights to redress their grievances.” said Gilbert. “We encourage all tribal members to fill out the ballots and mail them back quickly. This is their chance to take back control of their own tribal government”.

Copies of the ballots are available by emailing the Alliance at Contact@LittleShellChippewaAlliance.org, or by downloading copies off of the Alliance Website at http://www.LittleShellChippewaAlliance.org and at tribal member websites at http://www.LittleShellTribe.com and http://www.LittleShellTribe.us.

The Ballots are due back on January 14, 2010. They will be counted on January 15, 2010, 1pm at 300 2nd Ave S., Suite #2, Great Falls, MT 59401. The Public is Welcome to view the counting.



December 1, 2009

Little Shell members ask state to withhold $900K

From the AP Wires the Montana Standard

By MATT GOURAS

Some members of Montana's Little Shell tribe want the state to withhold $900,000 in grant money because of concerns the tribe might mishandle it.

The revelation came Tuesday when a planned look into state issues with the tribe's accounting methods turned into an internal dispute over the legitimacy of the tribal government.

Tribal leaders sought the meeting to reassure state officials they're fixing accounting and control systems. But members of a rival faction within the tribe instead asked the state to continue withholding the grant money until new elections can be held.

"It sounds like a mess, and it has to be cleaned up," said John Gilbert, a former tribal chairman who leads the group seeking new elections.

Gilbert said the tribe is accustomed to having at most a few hundred dollars in its bank account. He urged the state not to give the current tribal government hundreds thousands of dollars.

Before Gilbert spoke, Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Chairman John Sinclair told staff from the governor's office, the Commerce Department and the Department of Public Health and Human Services that progress has been made in meeting accounting standards.

He promised more would be done so that the tribe can receive the money, which includes federal stimulus funds funneled through the state and grants for tobacco use prevention and economic development.

Recent state audits suggested the tribe had misspent past grants, and sloppy bookkeeping practices opened the door to potential abuse.

State attorneys and accountants brought up several issues Tuesday, including limited oversight, no clear spending policies and no clear distinction between the tribal government and its nonprofit entity.

Sinclair and an attorney for the tribe assured the state the issues would be resolved and would include new procedures and documentation.

"This is all in process," Sinclair told the state agencies. "We are still trying to get our books in shape."

Sinclair also said the tribal government, which he characterized as a small group of volunteers, is looking for technical assistance in meeting the guidelines.

The tribe recently had a contentious election, followed by federal denial of its request to be recognized as a sovereign tribe. The landless tribe's 4,300 members are scattered across Montana and surrounding states and provinces.

The governor's office made it clear the state agencies are focused on the grant process, not tribal politics.

"At this point we are there to make sure that if we do give funds, they are used properly," said Sarah Elliott, spokeswoman for Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

Joined by other past leaders and current tribal members, Gilbert said they want the governor's office to intervene in the dispute over control of the tribal government, which is headed by Sinclair.

"Hopefully this will make them realize how serious the situation is," Gilbert said in an interview after the meeting. "We want fiscal responsibility here."



December 1, 2009

Little Shell tribe, state to talk over problems in audit

From the AP Wires via the Missoulean

By Associated Press

HELENA - A planned look into state concerns over accounting methods at Montana's Little Shell tribe on Tuesday turned into a tribal dispute over the legitamacy of its government.

Several tribal members asked state agencies to withhold almost $900,000 in grant money until new elections can be held.

But Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Chairman John Sinclair told state officials that progress has been made in meeting accounting standards so the tribe can receive the money.

Recent state audits suggested the tribe had misspent past grants and that its sloppy bookkeeping practices opened the door to potential abuse.

State attorneys and accountants brought up several issues Tuesday, such as no clear distinction between the tribal government and its non-profit entity, no clear policies for spending money, and limited oversight



December 1, 2009

Little Shell leaders, state officials discuss funding issues

From the Montana News Station

By KRTV

Little Shell tribal leaders met with members of state government today for a meeting regarding accounting concerns within the tribe. At issue is nearly $900,000 in grant and federal stimulus money.

The state decided to withhold the money until the tribe can prove that it has improved its accounting practices and will spend the money responsibly.

No decision was made regarding the money today, but tribal chairman John Sinclair believes it could be straightened out in the next few weeks.

Some members of the tribe believe the money should continue to be withheld; one group of members spoke out today saying that the tribe has held bogus elections and that the money should not be allocated until legitimate elections can be held.



December 1, 2009

Little Shell tribe, state to talk over problems in audit

From the Montana News Station

By KRTV

Little Shell tribal leaders met with members of state government today for a meeting regarding accounting concerns within the tribe. At issue is nearly $900,000 in grant and federal stimulus money.

The state decided to withhold the money until the tribe can prove that it has improved its accounting practices and will spend the money responsibly.

No decision was made regarding the money today, but tribal chairman John Sinclair believes it could be straightened out in the next few weeks.

Some members of the tribe believe the money should continue to be withheld; one group of members spoke out today saying that the tribe has held bogus elections and that the money should not be allocated until legitimate elections can be held.





November 18, 2009

$867K for Montana tribe on hold after state audit

From the AP Wires via the Montana Standard

By Matthew Brown
Associated Press

State agencies have withheld $867,000 in grants and stimulus money from a Montana Indian tribe since auditors revealed lax accounting practices had opened the door to potential financial abuse.

The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians first ran into trouble with the state in September, when auditors raised questions about how the tribe was spending a tobacco use prevention grant worth $180,000 annually.

The audit found "little relationship" between the program's budget and how the money was spent. Grant money appeared to be used on expenses related to tribal elections and to publish the tribal newspaper. Travel expenses topped $35,000 _ more than twice the budgeted amount.

Separately, in a visit to the tribe's offices in Great Falls, state officials found lax accounting for economic development grants.

With no way to verify how the money was spent, this year's grant for $70,000 was put on hold. Also suspended was a $617,000 federal stimulus grant that the state Legislature directed toward the tribe.

The tribe has been given until Nov. 23 to show it has fixed its accounting procedures.

"These are significant amounts of money," said Martin Tuttle, chief legal counsel for the Department of Commerce. "We want to make sure they go where the Legislature directed _ but only after we feel confident that we can account for them."

The Little Shell, a landless tribe recognized by the state but not the federal government, has 4,300 members scattered across central Montana.

Tribes on Montana's seven reservations already have been awarded a combined $4.3 million in stimulus funds.

Little Shell president John Sinclair said the tribe's small staff had not made a priority of record keeping but planned to improve its practices.

He also said the audit came to erroneous conclusions about how the grant money was spent. For example, Sinclair said the tobacco program logo was accidentally used on the tribal newsletter and election materials but that no grant money was involved.

"It was a stupid mistake," he said. "We need to settle out with these employees that weren't doing what they were supposed to be doing."

State officials have said there was the potential for abuse; they have not alleged it actually occurred.

Sinclair submitted a written response to the state audit last month.

"We found those answers to be inadequate," said Anna Whiting Sorrell, director of the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

A more critical response came from within the tribe, which recently saw a splinter group form in opposition to Sinclair and some members of the tribal council.

One of that group's leaders, former tribal vice president James Parker Shield, said the suspension of state funds amounted to a "black eye" for the tribe as it pushes to get federal recognition through Congress. He said Sinclair was ultimately responsible for the how the state money is spent.

A Dec. 1 meeting in Helena is planned between Sinclair, representatives of Gov. Brian Schweitzer and other state officials to discuss the issue.

November 9, 2009 followup letter from Montana Dept of Commerce and Dept of Public Health and Human services regarding State Contracts with the Little Shell Tribe and announcement of Meeting on Dec 1, 2009.

Sinclair Tobacco Audit Report Part 1

Sinclair Tobacco Audit Report Part 2

Sinclair Tobacco Audit Report Part 3



November 18, 2009

Money for Little Shell tribe on hold after audit

From the AP Wires via Great Falls Tribune

BILLINGS (AP) — The leader of a Montana Indian tribe says state agencies are withholding almost $900,000 in grants and stimulus funds after an audit revealed the tribe’s lax accounting practices had opened the door to potential financial abuse.

Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa president John Sinclair says a $70,000 economic-development grant and $617,000 in federal stimulus money for the tribe were recently put on hold.

That comes after a tobacco-use prevention grant for $180,000 was suspended in September — when state auditors first raised questions about how the tribe was spending the money.

The tribe has been given until Nov. 23 to show it has fixed its accounting procedures. A Dec. 1 meeting in Helena is planned between Sinclair, representatives of Gov. Brian Schweitzer and other state officials to discuss the issue.



November 18, 2009

PRESS RELEASE From Senator Max Baucus: A Promising Future

From the AHN News via Gant Daily

By U.S. Senator Max Baucus

I am proud to recognize and share my appreciation for Montana’s first residents during National Native American Heritage Month in November – and every month of the year.

The tribal communities in Montana are a fundamental part of who we are as Montanans, and I value our government to government relations. They are a vibrant part of our history and play a vital role in ensuring a bright and prosperous future for our state.

A few weeks ago, President Obama pledged that the White House would not forget the issues facing tribal communities across the United States. I second the President’s commitment. I’ve been fighting to ensure Indian communities get the support, funding and attention they deserve, and with the President’s backing there is even more we can accomplish.

We’ve already done a great deal this year. I fought to help make more tribal members eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) so they can get the care they need, when they need it. Senator Jon Tester and I pushed for over $3.5 billion in federal funding to help tribal communities create good-paying jobs and boost tribal economies with resources for improving classrooms and health clinics, cleaning up drinking water and building community development projects like dams and irrigations facilities.

I’ve introduced the Crow Tribe Land Restoration Act to establish a loan program to help the Crow Tribe preserve their land, and co-sponsored the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009 to make sure that tribal law enforcement officials have every tool possible to do their jobs. I included provisions of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) earlier this year. As part of ARRA, we included $2 billion for Tribal Tax Exempt Bonds.

These are only a few examples of the work that’s been done, but there is always more to do. There are still plenty of folks who need help – whether it’s with health care or jobs, education or law enforcement. I am going to keep working hard for Montana Indian communities.

I’ll make sure health care reform is right for Montana’s tribal communities, that they get the resources they need for law enforcement, education, and economic development, and that their voices are heard in Washington.

Montana’s tribes have a rich history and together we will make sure we can be just as proud of their future.

Max Baucus is Montana’s senior U.S. Senator and is chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee



November 5, 2009

Obama Leads Conference With Tribal Leaders Marking American Indian Heritage Month

From the AHN News via Gant Daily

Kris Alingod
AHN Contributor

Washington, D.C. (AHN) - President Barack Obama leads a conference with tribal nations on Thursday, a day after Congress held a hearing examining the "broken process" of granting federal recognition to American Indians. The Interior Department last week put an end to the two-decade application of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana, saying the group did not meet requirements to be acknowledged.

The President delivers remarks to open the White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Interior Department. He then holds discussions with leaders from the 564 federally recognized tribes, and closes the conference late in the afternoon.

The event is part of Obama's "sustained outreach to the American people," according to the White House, and coincides with National American Indian Heritage Month. It was announced earlier this month, and received with praise by the National Congress of American Indians, which opened its Embassy of Tribal Nations in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.

"I commend President Obama for setting this precedent for his Administration's Nation to Nation working relationship with tribes, "NCAI President Joe Garcia had said. "Tribal leaders are very satisfied that President Obama is fulfilling his promise to meet with tribal leaders on a regular basis during his term in office."

The conference comes a day after a hearing by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs about the government's recognition of tribes.

"Securing formal, federal tribal recognition is vital. Once federally recognized, a tribe has access to federal benefits and programs," Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said in a statement before the hearing. "The acknowledgment process is broken and has been since it was established in 1978."

"Tribes routinely wait decades without getting a decision. Some tribes have been stuck in the federal acknowledgment process since 1978 with no decision," he added, referring to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

The Interior Department had said in its decision on Oct. 27 that there was "insufficient evidence to acknowledge" the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

According to Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs George Skibine, the group, which consists of 4,332 members inside and outside of Montana, did not satisfy three of the seven criteria for federal recognition.

The unmet criteria were:

* that the tribe has been identified as an Indian entity on a continuous basis since 1900
* that it comprise a unique community since historical times and maintain significant social relationships and interaction with the larger society
* that it maintain political influence over a community of members.



November 5, 2009

Little Shell make case in D.C.

From the Great RFalls Tribune

By Ledyard King
Gannett Washington DC Bureau Writer

WASHINGTON — A week after rejecting the application for tribal recognition filed by Montana's Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Interior Department officials conceded Wednesday that the certification process is flawed and needs reform.

Criteria for tribal recognition should be clearer, and regulatory steps that can add years to the review process could be eliminated, George Skibine told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Skibine is the Interior's acting principal deputy assistant secretary for Indian affairs, who ruled that the Great Falls-based Little Shell Tribe should not be recognized.

Reforming the process "is going to be one of the priorities of this administration, and we are going to get that done," Skibine said.

He called the decision to reject the Little Shell's application "agonizing" and "excruciatingly difficult."

That was of little comfort to supporters of the tribe, who had waited since 1978 for last week's decision. The tribe received initial approval from the Interior in 2000.

"The process is broken," Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., told Skibine. "I don't think there's any doubt about that. It should not have taken 31 years, 70,000 pages of documents or $2 million in legal fees ... to make a decision."

He and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., have sponsored a bill in the Senate that would recognize the tribe. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., is working on a similar effort in the House.

The tribe was denied recognition because it failed to meet three of the seven criteria the Interior requires. According to the agency, the tribe was unable to show that:

•It has been an Indian community on a "substantially continuous basis" since 1900;

•A "predominant portion" of the petitioners make up a distinct community that has existed since historical times; and

•It has maintained political authority over its members as an autonomous community.

Skibine acknowledged that some of the terms, such as "predominant portion," are vague, but he did not back down from his ruling. The Little Shell Tribe has 90 days from the rejection date to appeal the decision to an independent panel within the Interior Department.

Tribe President John Sinclair, who testified at Wednesday's hearing, said he wasn't sure whether he would file an appeal or pursue a remedy through Congress.

"I don't know if I have a lot of faith in that (appeals) process," Sinclair told the senators as he laid out his frustrations with an agency he said cannot give a straight answer. "They came back to us in 2000 with a positive finding, and they said, 'Strengthen your position.' But they (didn't) say how to do it, so we came back burying them in paper."

Indian Affairs Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., asked the agency to come back within three months to lay out some general reforms, not just on how to improve the process but on how to speed it up as well.

"This is not a system that works," he said. "When people get together and file a petition, they should not expect it take three decades for their government to get back to them."

Contact Ledyard King at lking@gannett.com.



November 4, 2009

Feds pledge overhaul of tribal recognition system

From the Associated Press via Billings Gazette

By Mathew Brown
Associated Press

With some American Indian groups waiting decades for formal recognition from the U.S. government, federal officials Wednesday pledged to overhaul the cumbersome process but cautioned the changes could take two years to go into effect.

Federal recognition renders tribes eligible for economic assistance, land, housing grants and other government benefits.

Decisions on whether tribes qualify are supposed to be made by the Department of Interior within 25 months. Yet some Indians have seen their petitions languish within the agency's Bureau of Indian Affairs for 30 years or more without an answer.

"We have survived Indian removal, genocide, the Civil War, the burning of our courthouse, Jim Crow laws and their KKK enforcers," said Ann Tucker, chair of the Muscogee Nation of Florida. "We have waited long enough for a broken process to determine our fate."

Members of the Muscogee began their drive for recognition in 1978 and are now among 15 Indian groups waiting for a final determination. Those include five in California, three in Louisiana and others in Michigan, New York, Georgia, North Carolina, Wisconsin and New Mexico.

Another 80 Indian groups remain mired in the early stages of a federal process that can cost millions of dollars to navigate _ far more than some can afford.

During a U.S. Senate oversight hearing Wednesday, the man who oversees the recognition process agreed new rules need to be put in place to fix a process several senators called "broken."

"There is no certainty in that process. That needs to happen," said George Skibine, the Interior Department's acting deputy assistant secretary for Indian affairs.

Skibine said his agency would begin drafting new regulations setting a definitive timeline for petitions to be considered. He said those new rules could take a year to develop and then another year to be adopted.

Wednesday's hearing also highlighted the experiences of Montana's Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa, which filed its recognition petition in 1978. That was the year the current process was established by Congress.

It took 31 years for the tribe to get a negative decision after being told a decade ago that approval was likely.

The tribe was told in October it failed meet three of government's seven criteria. Montana's Congressional delegation has vowed to overturn that decision.

Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, said the government accepts that 90 percent of the Little Shell are Chippewa Indian descendants. To then turn around and deny them tribal status "puts them out there in limbo," he said.

A bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Eni Faleomavaega, a Democrat from American Samoa, would streamline the process. The measure would pare down the number of criteria to just two and transfer authority over recognition from the Interior Department to a commission appointed by the president.

Little Shell Chairman John Sinclair said the $2 million spent on his tribe's recognition effort "show that the process is completely run amok."

More than 70,000 pages of documents were generated for the BIA's eventual decision, which Sinclair said amounts to a stack of paperwork 35 feet high.

He said the tribe was penalized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in part because of its nomadic history. Without any land to call their own, members of the tribe wandered the Northern Plains for decades before settling in Montana and adjacent states and provinces early last century.

In the process, they intermarried with European settlers and scattered to multiple towns and rural communities.

"The Little Shell must look like every other tribe or they won't be recognized," Sinclair said. "The fault is in the regulatory process, not with the Little Shell tribe."

The Little Shell's approximately 4,300 members were recognized by the state of Montana in 2000. They have no reservation.

They trace their drive for recognition to the 1860s, when the related Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians signed a treaty with the U.S. government later ratified by the Senate.

In 1892, when the government created a commission to negotiate for a land cessation for some Chippewa, Chief Little Shell refused to accept the terms. His people were later carved out of the agreement.



November 4, 2009

SENATE INDIAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE TO REVIEW FEDERAL PROCESS FOR TRIBAL ACKNOWLEDGMENT

From the US Senate Indians Affairs Committee Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, announced Tuesday the panel will hold a congressional oversight hearing at 2:15 PM on Wednesday, November 4. The hearing will examine Department of Interior efforts to repair the federal acknowledgement process for Indian tribes. It will also review proposals for improving the system.

Securing formal, federal tribal recognition is vital. It establishes a formal government-to-government relationship between the tribe and the U.S. government. Once federally recognized, a tribe has access to federal benefits and programs.

Yet, the acknowledgement process is broken and has been since it was established in 1978. Tribes routinely wait decades without getting a decision. Some tribes, including one tribe which will present testimony at the hearing, have been stuck in the federal acknowledgment process since 1978 with no decision. The prolonged process cost tribes funds urgently needed elsewhere, and denies tribes that are eventually recognized access to benefits and programs, often for decades.

Details follow:

WHO: U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Senator Byron Dorgan, Chairman; Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Vice Chairman, and other members of the committee.

WITNESSES: George Skibine, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of Interior; Frank Ettawageshik, Chair, Federal Acknowledgement Task Force, National Congress of American Indians; John Sinclair, President, Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Havre, Montana; Ann D. Tucker, Tribal Chairperson, Muscogee Nation of Florida, Bruce, Florida; and Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, Director, Indian Legal Clinic, Tempe, Arizona.

WHAT: Congressional oversight hearing

WHEN: 2:15 PM, Wednesday, November 4, 2009

WHERE: 628 Dirksen Senate Office Building, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.

WHY: To review Department of Interior efforts to repair the federal acknowledgement process for granting formal recognition to Indian tribes.

You can watch the Hearing beginning today at 12 noon. OVERSIGHT HEARING on Fixing the Federal Acknowledgment Process

Considered with this hearing is bills designed to remove Recognition duties from the BIA Bureaucrats and place them in an independant commission designed specifically to recognize Tribal Groups.


Bills to be considered at this hearing that are currently within the perview of the Senate Indians Affairs Committee

H.R.3690 Indian Tribal Federal Recognition Administrative Procedures Act

S.381 A bill to express the policy of the United States regarding the United States relationship with Native Hawaiians, to provide a process for the reorganization of a Native Hawaiian and the recognition by the United States of the Native Hawaiian government, and for other purposes.

S.530 A bill to extend Federal recognition to the Muscogee Nation of Florida.

S.1178 A bill to extend Federal recognition to the Chickahominy Indian Tribe, the Chickahominy Indian Tribe-Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, the Rappahannock Tribe, Inc., the Monacan Indian Nation, and the Nansemond Indian Tribe.

S.1735 A bill to provide for the recognition of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, and for other purposes

S.1936 A bill to extend the Federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana, and for other purposes.



November 4, 2009

Great Falls City Council Reaffirms Support for Little Shell Recognition

From the KFBB News

The Great Falls City Commission meeting on Tuesday night focused on the Little Shell Tribe. The tribe's 30 year old request for federal recognition was denied last week by the Department of the Interior.

Multimedia Watch The Video The vast majority of those identified with the tribe live in and around Great Falls, so they decided to approach the city to see if they could help. That is because three years ago, the commission passed a resolution to try and help the Little Shell gain federal recognition. On Tuesday night, the commissioners took time to reaffirm that resolution and their support for the tribe.

John Gilbert, past Chairman of the Tribe tells News Channel Five, "What the city of great falls is doing here is a great booster and a great morale booster for us and we appreciate that and we do think it will carry some clout and help us out. So we're very grateful to them."

Great Falls Council Resolution 9871 A RESOLUTION SUPPORTING CONGRESSIONAL RECOGNITION OF THE LITTLE SHELL TRIBE OF CHIPPEWA INDIANS IN MONTANA

Resolution 9871 Agenda Report and Background



October 29, 2009

Editorial: Tribal recognition process too cumbersome

From the The Spokesman-Review

Technically, the Little Shell Indian Tribe of Montana asked for federal recognition in 1978, the same year the U.S. Department of Interior adopted regulations governing the Federal Acknowledgement Process.

But tribal elders say their fight to regain status in the U.S. government’s eyes began in 1892, when federal recognition was withdrawn because Chief Little Shell wouldn’t sell reservation land to the government.

Even setting aside the historical record, 31 years is a long time to be left hanging over a question about your status as a sovereign entity – a status 564 tribes now enjoy but hundreds more seek.

The Little Shells’ wait ended Tuesday with Interior’s decision to turn down the tribe’s application for recognition. As a result, some 4,300 scattered members continue to be denied health and housing assistance that is available to Native Americans.

The tribe has two other options. They could challenge the ruling in court, or they could turn to Congress. Like southwest Washington’s Chinook Tribe, which also was turned down by the Department of Interior, the Little Shells are now counting on their state’s congressional delegation to restore their federal standing by law.

That route is not assured of success, and it may not be fast, but it’s likely to be downright swift compared with the Department of Interior’s notoriously plodding process.

It’s been nearly a decade since the U.S. General Accounting Office encouraged the Department of Interior to clarify and expedite the handling of applications for recognition. While the process lists seven criteria to justify recognition, the grounds for determining when they are met are vague enough to lead to conflicting interpretations.

Testifying before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in 2002, GAO’s director for natural resources and environment, Barry T. Hill, accurately predicted that a lack of uniformity in applying the criteria would lead many tribes to turn to the courts or Congress rather than the regulatory process.

It is past time for the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to address those clarity and uniformity problems and to achieve more urgency in handling applications. The saga of the Little Shells and their lengthy – and continuing – quest to regain the status they lost more than a century ago underscores why.

H.R.3690 Indian Tribal Federal Recognition Administrative Procedures Act



October 28, 2009

Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council Statement on Recognition

From the MT-WY Tribal Leaders Council

James Steele, Jr., Chairman of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council, the unified voice of tribes from two states, was disappointed by the BIA's decision to decline formal recognition of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Steele is also Chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

“We are not pleased by this turn of events. We would hope that the matter be reconsidered. Our brothers and sisters of the Little Shell Tribe deserve recognition,” Steele said Tuesday morning upon hearing the news. “We support their efforts to seek recognition through the legislative branch. We ask Senators Baucus and Tester and Representative Rehberg to move quickly for Congressional action.”

Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., has been pushing separate legislation to grant recognition at a federal level for the landless tribe, which has members in Great Falls, across Montana, and in the surrounding areas.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., on Tuesday introduced the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Restoration Act of 2009, which if passed by Congress, will grant recognition to the tribe.



October 27, 2009

Senators respond to Little Shell decision with new effort to recognize tribe Baucus, Tester introduce bill to override ‘broken’ recognition process

From the Senator Jon Tester's Website

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Moments after learning of a decision not to recognize the Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians as a federal Indian tribe, Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today launched a new effort to get the Montana tribe the federal recognition it deserves.

Today, after decades of delays, the U.S. Interior Department announced the Little Shell Tribe did not meet the agency’s criteria for federal recognition.

Both Baucus and Tester strongly disagree with the decision.

Immediately after learning the news, they introduced the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Restoration Act of 2009. If signed into law, the legislation would override the Interior Department’s decision by making recognition of the tribe federal law.

“The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians have patiently waited for formal recognition from the federal government for more than a century,” said Baucus. “I do not agree with today’s decision from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but this is not the end to the Little Shell’s fight. I am proud to co-sponsor a bill to give the Little Shell Tribe the recognition that they deserve. As Montanans and Americans, we recognize their history and heritage in our state and I support them.”

Tester, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, has called the federal government’s recognition process “broken.”

“Today’s decision was wrong for a tribe that’s been a part of Montana for many years,” Tester said. “The Little Shell Tribe has worked hard to be recognized by the federal government. I’m disappointed by this decision, and Max and I will keep pushing hard to get the tribe the recognition it deserves.”

Both Baucus and Tester have long fought for federal recognition of the Little Shell Tribe.

The Little Shell Tribe is made up of approximately 4,300 members, most of whom live in the Great Falls area. The State of Montana recognized the tribe in 2000.



October 27, 2009

Little Shell recognition decision delayed again

From the Great Falls Tribune

By Travis Coleman
Great Falls Tribune

Disappointment following a long-delayed decision to deny federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians on Tuesday gave way to hope of a renewed push for legislation to override the acknowledging agency's power.

Montana's congressional delegation has sponsored two bills that, if passed, would make recognition of the Little Shell federal law. The bills also bypass the authority of the Department of the Interior's Office of Federal Acknowledgement, which handles recognizing tribes.

Acting Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs George T. Skibine made the final decision to reject the Little Shell's recognition bid Tuesday. The department denied recognition to the Little Shell because it did not meet three of the seven criteria needed for acknowledgement, specifically:

Being identified as an Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis since at least 1900;

Comprising a distinct community since historical times, and maintaining significant social relationships and interaction as part of a distinct community; and

Maintaining political influence over a community of its members or communities combined into the tribe.

A long wait

The tribe dates its quest for recognition to the 1860s, when a small band of Native Americans led by Chief Little Shell was cut out of a treaty signed with federal authorities.

Chief Little Shell's descendants were later forced into Canada, where some married into communities of French-Canadian fur trappers. That influence can be seen today in the tribal song, a fiddle jig.

The tribe later migrated south into Montana, with many members settling in an impoverished area of Great Falls known as Hill 57. The Little Shell first filed a federal recognition petition with the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1978, but a decision has been often delayed since then.

Tribal members saw federal recognition as the path to health care and housing benefits, along with other services available to federally recognized tribes. Tribal Chairman John Sinclair said the recognition process has cost the tribe millions of dollars and an enormous amount of effort.

The petition rejected Tuesday was filed after several earlier attempts fell short. The tribe was recognized by the state Legislature eight years ago.

In denying the petition, the Interior Department stated it was able to identify the tribe as an Indian entity since 1935, but not since 1900, as required by its regulations, among other problems.

The agency's 242-page rejection decision said the Little Shell failed to show enough "cohesion" during the early 1900s, after many of the tribe's members had been uprooted and were wandering northern Montana and southern Canada.

Members of the group who ended up in Montana lived primarily in "already existing, largely multiethnic settlements," the decision stated.

"In none of these multiethnic settlements did the petitioners' ancestors constitute a majority, or even a significant percentage of the population," it states.

The decision also states that recent infighting among tribal members on elections and political leadership "did not show active participation or widespread knowledge of political activities among a significant percentage of the membership."

The decision acknowledged 89 percent of Little Shell tribal members can trace their lineage to the Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians.

"It kind of hurts, naturally, but it's not the end of the line," said Little Shell elder Roger Salois, 72, after learning of the government's denial.

"It's really hard to describe a feeling like this," Salois added. "You have your community and your place to go. We don't have that. But we're still together, and we're still Little Shell."

The new push

The federal decision was a reversal from when the department recommended acknowledging the Little Shell and its 4,300 members in July 2000.

Although Sinclair was disappointed in and critical of the decision, he said it was something he thought could happen. He added he is ready to move forward.

"This decision proves what many have argued for years — the acknowledgment process is broken. (The department) won't recognize a tribe that everybody in Montana knows to be real," Sinclair said. "Now the tribe looks to Congress to see that justice is done in this matter and that the tribe be accorded its rightful status as a sovereign (entity), with which the federal government deals on a government-to-government basis."

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., citing repeated delays in Little Shell recognition, also called the process broken during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee meeting in February. Tester and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., on Tuesday introduced the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Restoration Act of 2009, which if passed by Congress, will grant recognition to the tribe.

Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., has been pushing separate legislation to grant recognition at a federal level for the landless tribe, which has members in Great Falls, across Montana, and in the surrounding areas.

There was a hearing on Rehberg's bill in July, with work on it scheduled in the House of Representatives' Natural Resources Committee. If it gets the thumbs up there, the measure would go to the House for a full vote. The legislation also could be wrapped into a larger bill.

"It's going to be a lot harder. We're going to have to fight in the House and Senate," Sinclair said of the legislative option for recognition.

Tribal member Henry Anderson, 78, of Helena, said he felt sorry for the elders who may never see the tribe be federally recognized. He said he will continue to pray that the legislative route works.

"I do hope for the people that it will happen," Anderson said. "I don't know if in my time if it will happen."

Sinclair said the tribe is not ready to give up, adding it needed a decision to rule out this path to federal recognition.

"We need to go past that and go forward," Sinclair said. "It's just a matter of time."

Little Shell timeline

Mid-1700s: Tribal members, following fur trade, migrate from Great Lakes area and settle in Turtle Mountain region of North Dakota near Canadian border.

1863: Little Shell and other Chippewa bands and tribes sign treaty with U.S. government to form Turtle Mountain reservation.

1892: Chief Little Shell refuses to sign deal to sell some reservation land to U.S. government for white homesteaders because government offers just 10 cents per acre. As a result of his opposition, Little Shell members are taken off reservation membership list and lose federal recognition. Tribe begins fight to regain status.

1896: Bowing to pressure from Montana governor and citizens, U.S. government spends $5,000 to deport Little Shell Tribe to Canada. Deal turns out to be fraudulent and many Little Shell tribal members move back to Montana. Tribe so impoverished that members often rely on financial help from prominent Montana residents.

Late-1910s: Tribal member Joseph Dussome continues fight for federal recognition following deaths of third Chief Little Shell in 1904 and tribal member and attorney John Bottineau in 1916.

1934: Indian Reorganization Act passes, and tribe offered land for reservation. President Franklin Roosevelt vetoes offer, citing lack of federal recognition.

1941: Attempt to buy Phillips Ranch for Little Shell reservation fails because of lack of funds. Many tribal members live in abandoned cars, dugouts and cardboard houses.

Mid-1950s: Citizen group in Great Falls donates "Hill 57," to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to serve as base for tribe. Bureau rejects offer because policy at time favors dismantling reservations.

1978: New government policy routes tribal recognition process through the Interior Department's BIA.

1984: Tribe files acknowledgement petition through BIA.

2000: Interior Department scheduled to make preliminary decision on Little Shell federal recognition by Feb. 29.

May 26, 2000: The Little Shell is tentatively recognized as a tribe by the U.S. Department of Interior. A six-month comment period tribal officials called a formality then begins. An extension is later granted, allowing the tribe until July 16, 2001, to submit its reasons for deserving recognition to the federal government.

Feb. 8, 2001: The Montana House of Representatives unanimously approves a resolution backing federal recognition for the tribe.

March 8, 2001: The Montana Senate votes 44-4 to support federal recognition of the tribe.

August, 2001: The tribe again asks for a six-month extension on its final application. Officials say proving tribal community is an issue because tribal members are spread across the U.S. and Canada.

March 28, 2002: A July deadline is set for the tribe to provide the federal government with proof of its existence and that it meets other criteria.

July 13, 2005: With no official decision made in the recognition process, Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., introduces a bill in the House that would grant federal recognition to the Little Shell.

Oct. 27, 2006: Gov. Brian Schweitzer issues a declaration stating that Montana recognizes the Little Shell and urging the federal government to grant recognition to the tribe.

March 1, 2007: Rehberg reintroduces a recognition bill in the house. Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus, both Montana Democrats, introduce parallel legislation in the Senate.

April 26, 2007: In a ceremony at the C.M. Russell Museum, Schweitzer signs a bill granting the Little Shell the use of the historic Morony Apartment building at the Morony Dam site for the next 10 years. "Now you have state recognition and the Morony site," Schweitzer tells tribal members.

Sept. 16, 2007: The tribe is granted its own license plate in the state of Montana.

July 30, 2008: The Office of Federal Acknowledgement receives a 180-day deadline extension for its final determination on the status the Little Shell, setting a new deadline of Jan. 28, 2009.

Jan. 27, 2009: The deadline for a final decision on recognition is pushed back to July 29.

July 7, 2009: The House Committee for Natural Resources sets a hearing on federal recognition for the Little Shell for July 15.

July 27, 2009: The deadline for a decision on federal recognition is moved back 60 days.

Sept. 22, 2009: The decision is delayed until Oct. 26 because of the abnormal issues presented by the tribe, according to tribal officials.

Oct. 26, 2009: The final decision is delayed a day.

Oct. 27, 2009: The federal government denied recognition for the Little Shell.

Source: "A Brief Historical Overview of the Little Shell Tribe of Pembina Chippewa" by Deward Walker Jr.



October 27, 2009

Indian Affairs won't recognize Little Shell Tribe

From the Associated Press

By Mathew Brown
Associated Press Writer

BILLINGS, Mont. – After a 31-year wait, the U.S. Department of Interior said Tuesday it will not recognize Montana's Little Shell Tribe, a group of landless Indians who have struggled to stay together through more than a century of poverty and dislocation./

The tribe's long campaign for acknowledgment now turns to Congress. Members of Montana's delegation said they would push to circumvent the executive branch decision.

"It kind of hurts, naturally, but it's not the end of the line," said Little Shell elder Roger Salois, 72, after learning of the government's denial.

"It's really hard to describe a feeling like this," Salois added. "You have your community and your place to go. We don't have that. But we're still together, and we're still Little Shell."

The three-decade delay in answering the tribe's application was chalked up in part to "departures from precedent" — a reference to the Little Shell's scattered membership and its history of intermarriage with non-Indians and members of other tribes.

Critics, including U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, blamed the delay on the "broken" bureaucracy that oversees Indian recognition requests.

Tester and fellow Montana Democrat Sen. Max Baucus said they introduced legislation Tuesday to override the Interior Department's decision. U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, a Republican, earlier introduced a similar measure in the House.

Federal recognition would bring housing grants and other assistance to the tribe's 4,300 members, who are spread across Montana and neighboring states and provinces.

Members of the tribe are candid about their mixed ancestry: Many also call themselves Metis, a Canadian people with European and Native American roots.

But while their lineage is mixed, they say their identity is not.

"They've got their rules, and you've got to fit into the slot. But we know who we are," Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Chairman John Sinclair said.

"Why didn't they just tell us 'no' 30 years ago?" Sinclair added.

Nedra Darling of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs said officials had to make their decision based on a strict set of criteria that allowed little flexibility.

"That's what Congress gave us. Those are the regulations they set," she said.

The agency's rejection said the Little Shell had failed to show political cohesion, did not comprise a distinct community and had been identified as Indians by outsiders only since 1935, not 1900 as the law requires.

The tribe has not had a place of its own since the late 1860s, when Chief Little Shell and his band were excluded from a federal treaty signed with related tribes.

The decision Tuesday acknowledged 89 percent of the Little Shell can trace their lineage to the Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians.

Chief Little Shell's descendants were later forced into Canada, where some married into communities of French-Canadian fur trappers. That influence can be seen today in the tribal song, a fiddle jig.

The tribe later migrated back south into Montana, with many settling in an impoverished area of Great Falls known as Hill 57.

Salois and other tribal elders say residents of Hill 57 often scavenged for scrap metal to survive. They were rejected by the white community, even as they had no place on the reservations of established tribes.

Members of the tribe also scattered through the remote towns along northern Montana's Hi-Line, a 400 mile stretch following U.S. Highway 2 and the former Great Northern Railway. Despite the geographic hurdle, Salois insisted the tribe's members retain strong connections.

"They might go somewhere, but they're still family. It's the same doggone way," he said. "Just because we're not on a reservation doesn't mean we're not Indians."

The petition rejected Tuesday was filed in 1978 after several earlier attempts fell short.

Nine years ago, Montana formally recognized the Little Shell, allowing it to get grants for tobacco-use prevention and economic development. The tobacco grants were recently suspended because the tribe was not properly accounting for the money.



October 27, 2009

BREAKING: Obama Administration rejects Little Shell recognition petition and denies federal recognition.

By Grapevine and OFA

In what can only be a deliberate slap in the face of Native Americans everywhere, the Obama Administration has decided to reverse the Preliminary recognition of the Little Shell Tribe that the Clinton Administration approved in July 2000. As a result, after over 130 years, and 30 years with the most recent petition, the people must continue to endure sub-human status within the United States where if you do not have Federal Recognition, you are not considered a Sovereign nation or even an Indian Tribe.

We can only hope that the US Congress has more understanding on who are Native Americans then the Obama Adminstration does and forwards the bill submitted by Rep Rehberg has before the House of Representatives.

You can call Lee Flemming at the BIA's Office of Acknowledgement and ask him personally why he fought so hard to deny our recognition. His phone # is 202 513-7658 or if his Voice mail box is full, call the main office at 202-513-7659 to register your complaint.

MORE: Statement from Rep Rehberg's Office:

“Although this decision is disappointing, it’s hardly surprising from a federal agency that’s procrastinated for more than 30 years,” Rehberg said. “This decision makes it all the more important to pass my legislation which would circumvent this red-tape once and for all and secure the Little Shell the recognition they have in Montana for almost a decade.”

MORE: Click here for the Official Press Release from the Office of Acknowledgment

Related Articles

From the Billings Gazette

From the Great Falls Tribune



October 27, 2009

Little Shell recognition decision delayed again

From the Great Falls Tribune

By Travis Coleman
Great Falls Tribune

Another delay has been issued in the federal recognition quest of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

After meeting Monday, the Office of Federal Acknowledgement pushed back issuing its decision on recognizing the tribe to today, according to Gary Garrison, a Bureau of Indian Affairs spokesman.

Garrison didn't disclose why the office did not release its decision Monday, as was scheduled. He did say that there was a meeting held Monday among federal acknowledgement staff, representatives of Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and other officials. The staff then left for the day around 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Garrison said.

Little Shell Chairman John Sinclair said Monday afternoon that he heard decision could come later that day. Instead, the lack of a decision became the newest setback in a series of delays for Little Shell tribal members.

The tribe, which has about 4,300 members, is recognized by the state of Montana. It first submitted its federal recognition application in 1978. Federal recognition would allow the tribe to be eligible for federal housing grants and other assistance. The tribe dates its quest for recognition to the 1860s, when a small band of American Indians led by Chief Little Shell was cut out of a treaty signed with federal authorities.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs George Skibine told the tribe last month that a decision would be reached by Monday. Skibine said at that time that the deadline was pushed back because the final decision is under legal review — the same reason offered for a 60-day delay announced in July.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., citing repeated delays in the Little Shell's quest for recognition, called the recognition process broken during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee meeting in February.

Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., has introduced legislation in Congress to recognize the Little Shell, circumventing the Bureau of Indian Affairs.



October 26, 2009

Little Shell Tribe recognition decision Delayed by ONE day

By the grapevine and the OFA

From what can only be described as "intense" discussions within the BIA, there is NO decision today on whether the Obama Administration will stand behind Native Americans and extend formal Recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana. Word is that the decision has been delayed by 24 hours till October 27th, 2009.

Rumors are that there is some infighting within the BIA due to the process the Preliminary Recognition was granted to the tribe. On one side the Permanent workers within the BIA want to reject the Clinton Administration decision that was made in July 2000 to issues a Preliminary Recognition. On the other side are those who want to ignore the" Political Tiff" itself and base the decision on the merits of the petition itself..

We can only wait patiently to see who will win out and how it will effect the lives of 4300+ tribal members who have been waiting decades to be recognized by the United States Government. It will be sad to relive the past where the 1863 and 1864 treaties where congress wanted to shut out the agreements with the Chippewa Tribes and then later, Little Shell Tribal Members were blindsided by greedy government officials who wanted Millions of acres of land in the Minnesota/North Dakota region and wanted it extremely Cheap.. Chief Little Shell at the time rejected the US Governments offers and went on what is now known as the "Last Buffalo Hunt". While the Chiefs were away, the US Government appointed their own "Chiefs" and signed a fraudalent treaty that is now known as "The Ten Cent Treaty" where the US government took the land for 10 cents an acre. Since then, about 130 years later, we are still fighting with Bureaucrats who care less for the REAL lives of Native Americans then they are the "Bottom Line".

We can only hope and Pray that it is different now and the Bureaucrats have compassion



October 26, 2009

Little Shell recognition delayed again

From the Great Falls Tribune

By the Tribune Staff

Another delay has been issued in the federal recognition case of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

After meeting today, the Office of Federal Acknowledgement pushed back issuing their decision for the tribe to Tuesday, according to Gary Garrison, a Bureau of Indian Affairs spokesman.

The tribe, which has about 4,300 members, is recognized by the state of Montana. The tribe submitted its federal recognition application in 1978. Federal recognition would mean the tribe becoming eligible for federal housing grants and other assistance.

The tribe dates their quest for recognition to the 1860s, when a small band of American Indians led by Chief Little Shell was cut out of a treaty signed with federal authorities.

Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs George Skibine told the tribe last month that a decision would be reached by today.

Skibine said then that the deadline was pushed back because the final decision is under legal review. The same reason was offered for a 60-day delay announced in July.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, citing repeated delays in Little Shell recognition, called the process broken during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee meeting in February.

And Rep. Denny Rehberg, seeking to circumvent the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has introduced legislation in Congress to recognize the Little Shell.



From the AP Via the Billings Gazette

By the Associated Press

A long-awaited decision on whether a landless American Indian tribe in Montana deserves federal recognition was put off again on Monday.

The 4,300 members of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians submitted their formal recognition petition to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1978. After numerous delays, the agency had set a Monday deadline to resolve the matter.

But agency spokeswoman Nedra Darling said Monday evening that the decision had been pushed back for at least one more day.

The tribe's drive for acknowledgment dates to the late 1860s, when Chief Little Shell and his band were excluded from a federal treaty signed with related tribes.



October 26, 2009

Little Shell Tribe recognition decision due today

From the Billings Gazette

By the Associated Press

A long-awaited decision is due today on whether a landless American Indian tribe in Montana deserves federal recognition.

The 4,300 members of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians submitted their formal recognition petition to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1978.

Already recognized by the state of Montana, the tribe would become eligible for federal housing grants and other assistance if it meets BIA approval.

The tribe's drive for acknowledgment dates to the late 1860s, when Chief Little Shell and his band were excluded from a federal treaty signed with related tribes.

A bill is pending in Congress to circumvent the BIA process if the agency does not make a decision on the Little Shell's petition.



October 22, 2009

Walter Lee Allen Jr.

From the Helena Independant Reporter





RONAN - Walter Lee Allen Jr., 61, of Ronan passed away on Monday, Oct. 19, at St. Luke Extended Care Facility in Ronan.

Walter was born on May 14, 1948, in Bridgeport, Conn., to Gloria and Walter Allen Sr.

Walter attended schools in the Seattle area.

Walter married Georgi Mitchell on June 21, 1993, in Pablo.

He worked his whole career with Burlington Northern Railroad, where he started as a boxcar checker and worked his way up the ranks to become a dispatcher. He continued as a dispatcher until he retired in 1993.

After his retirement he attended South Seattle Community College where he earned degrees in supervision and management and in business management. He graduated president of South Seattle Community College student body, Phi Theta Kappa and was on the United Student Association Board.

Walter loved the outdoors, fishing, hunting, hiking, camping and boating. He used to run half-marathons. He especially loved his family and was proud of his Native American roots. He was a member of the Little Shell Chippewa Cree Tribe.

He is preceded in death by his mother, Gloria Allen; a brother, Charles Allen; and an infant sister, Margie.

Walter is survived by his wife, Georgi Mitchell of Ronan; his parents, Walter Allen Sr. (Ola) of Bremerton, Wash.; daughter, Margie (Tony Clark) Allen of Helena; stepdaughters, Tricia Finley of Polson, Annie Mitchell of Polson, Jocelyn Finley of Pablo and JoAnn Mahler of Vancouver, Wash.; sons, James Allen of Helena, Walter Allen III (Thaydra) of Vancouver; adopted son, Ryan Allen of Bozeman; and brothers, Robert Allen of Polson and Steve Allen of Polson.

He is also survived by 13 grandchildren, one great-grandchild and a special sister-in-law, Ardith Allen of Polson.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Oct. 24, at 11 a.m. at the Grogan Funeral Home in Polson with the Rev. Kenny Prewitt officiating. A reception will follow at the funeral home.



October 18, 2009

State of Montana Release Full Audit Report on Sinclair's mishandling of the Tobacco Grant Programs

From the Billings Gazette

By the Associated Press

Members of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians are caught up in political infighting as a decision nears on whether the tribe will be federally recognized - but both sides say they don't expect it to change the outcome.

The tribe's recognition petition has languished before the Bureau of Indian Affairs for more than three decades. After several missed several deadlines, the agency last month set an Oct. 26 decision deadline.

But in defiance of tribal Chairman John Sinclair, a faction of tribal members took an initial step this month toward holding an election to challenge his legitimacy.

Sinclair also has been criticized over the results of a recent state government audit that said sloppy accounting procedures had left open to abuse the tribe's $180,000 annual tobacco use prevention grant. The grant was suspended until the tribe proves it can better manage the money.

Yet both Sinclair and one of the opposition faction's lead figures, former vice chairman James Parker Shield, say the infighting is unlikely to sway the bureau's ultimate call on recognition. They said it offers more evidence tribal members are politically engaged.

A Washington D.C. attorney who has been pushing the Little Shell's recognition case agreed.

"What's going on inside the Little Shell is not unlike what goes on inside every tribe," said the attorney, Arlinda Locklear. "In that sense it may be helpful, because there are past cases where the BIA said internal conflict was a proof of political process.

The tribe and its 4,300 members were recognized by the state of Montana in 2000.

The Little Shell's ancestors migrated to the Northern Plains in the 1700s. They were forced to leave in the 1860s after Chief Little Shell and his band were excluded from a federal treaty signed with related tribes.

Its members scattered to Montana and surrounding states and provinces.

In 1978 tribal leaders filed a formal recognition petition with the federal government and in 2000 the government announced it was leaning toward recognition.

A pending bill in Congress sponsored by U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, a Montana Republican, would circumvent the BIA's bureaucracy to award the tribe recognition.



October 6, 2009

State of Montana Release Full Audit Report on Sinclair's mishandling of the Tobacco Grant Programs

From the LSCA Website

By the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance

This report is in three parts. Part 1 is the audit report itself along with the 2 appendices.

Part 2 is copies of the three Tobacco Contracts along with internal emails that led to the audit itself.

Part 3 is the documentation provieded the state by Sinclair and Boham and was the only resources they were able to use for the limited audit.

These are all in PDF Format and just click on the links below to download the files.

Sinclair Audit Report Part 1

Sinclair Audit Report Part 2

Sinclair Audit Report Part 3



October 6, 2009

Little Shell lose tobacco money following audit

From the Great Falls Tribune

By Great Falls Tribune Staff and Mathew Brown of the Associated Press

State officials have stopped distribution of tobacco grant money to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians after an audit revealed problems with the tribe's accounting practices.

The Montana Department of Health and Human Services audit said lax oversight and record keeping allowed for "potential abuse'' of a $180,000 annual tobacco use prevention grant.

The audit summary states that the tribe tried to implement some accounting procedures, but they were not enough and were not consistently applied to ensure the money would be properly spent.

"A lack of documentation for the expenses charged to the Tobacco Use Prevention contracts does not provide evidence to determine whether the funds were used only for Tobacco Use Prevention services," the audit states.

Auditors were concerned that the grant money may have been used to purchase gift cards, pay for expenses related to tribal elections and publish the tribal newsletter.

Half the money was for tobacco programs for the tribe's 4,300 members scattered across Montana and surrounding states and provinces. The remainder was for similar programs for American Indians in Great Falls and Billings.

The agency's public health administrator, Jane Smilie, said the funding for the tribe's internal program could be restored if the tribe improves its accounting.

"We will review their response and determine if our auditors think what has been put in place is adequate,'' Smilie said.

In the meantime, the contracts for the Great Falls and Billings programs will be put out for bid.

The audit stops short of alleging any wrongdoing. Little Shell tribal chairman John Sinclair says he believes no abuse took place. He said the tribe "just screwed up."

"They're supposed to do tobacco activities; they're not accountants,'' Sinclair said.

He said three people lost their jobs after the funding was lost, although one may be rehired.

Sinclair said he e-mailed a letter to the public health department on Sunday in an effort to recoup one part of the grant. He has not heard back from the department.



Little Shell lose tobacco money following audit

From the KRTV Website

By KRTV Staff and Mathew Brown of the Associated Press

The Little Shell tribe is no longer receiving tobacco grant money after an audit revealed problems with the tribe's accounting practices.

The audit says loose oversight and record keeping allowed for potential abuse of a $180,000 tobacco use prevention grant, but there were no formal accusations of abuse.

Tribal chairman John Sinclair says steps are being taken to fix the accounting problems and recoup the money: "I've already sent a draft letter to Health and Human Services. I'm waiting to see if it's acceptable to them. I reassured them that we're going to do everything they ask and use this new accounting strictly. As far as how soon they'll get back to me, I'm not sure."

Sinclair said he also had troubling understanding some of the accounting practices and has asked for grant money to hire a full time bookkeeper.

If the tribe does not get the money back, Sinclair says one employee will be out of a job.



October 5, 2009

Tobacco money for Montana tribe cut off following audit

From the Billings Gazette

By Mathew Brown
Associated Press

State officials have stopped distributions of tobacco grant money to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians after an audit revealed problems with the tribe's accounting practices.

The Montana Department of Health and Human Services audit says lax oversight and record keeping "allows for potential abuse" of a $180,000 annual tobacco use prevention grant.

Half the money was for tobacco programs for the tribe's 4,300 members scattered across Montana and surrounding states and provinces. The remainder was for similar programs for American Indians in Great Falls and Billings.

The agency's public health administrator, Jane Smilie, says the funding could be restored if the tribe improves its accounting.

The audit stops short of alleging any wrongdoing. Little Shell tribal chairman John Sinclair says he believes no abuse took place.



October 2, 2009

Little Shell Chippewa Alliance releases copy of State Audit of the Litte Shell Tobacco Programs

From the LSCA Website

By the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance

The State of Montana has released the results of an Audit by the Montana Department of Health and Human Resources regarding the State Tobacco Grants that were awarded to the Little Shell Tribe for the Great Falls and Billings Area. Findings were suprising to both the Government of Montana and to the Tribal members themselves. Approx 70% of the money given to the tribe is unaccounted for. Not only was the money not used for it's intended purposes, but were diverted to other destinations including personal uses. The Audit documents misuse of the Checks by Sinclair, including not having a 2nd signature on the checks as required by our Tribal constitution and By-laws, the bank accounts, checks, statements all going to Sinclairs house in Havre Montana instead of the Tribal Headquarters in Great Falls Montana. That as Chairman, Sinclair decides the uses and dispersment of all the monies instead of the Constitutionally elected Secretary/Treasurer. Some monies were paid out before any receipts were turned in and in some cases were just paid out without any accountability and were not able to be tracked using the documentation provided by Sinclair and Russel Boham. None of the dispersments were approved or even reported to the Tribal Council in accordiance with our Tribal Constitution and Bylaws. One of the examples used in the report was where a request for travel expenses were padded by $400 and no accountability was done to ensure that the money was used for travel and not just requested by the person in the tribal office in hopes it would not be noticed.

Here is the statement by the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance who is making this report available publically:

The Little Shell Chippewa Alliance has been working over the spring, summer, and fall to correct problems with our Tribal Government, part of that has been following an Audit by the State of Montana concerning the handling of Federal and State Grant Monies by Sinclair and his cronies. On Sept 22, 2009, the State of Montana has released the results of the Audit for Public Review. We are making this available to Tribal Members and other entities interested in how Sinclair used this money as his personal Piggy Bank/ATM machine instead of to programs this money was intended to be used for the betterment and enhanced services for Tribal Members. As a result of Mr. Sinclair’s mishandling of Federal and State Funds, the State of Montana will NO LONGER provide any further state funds to the Little Shell Tribe until the tribal government sets up and institutes major changes to they way it handles public money. This includes the Stimulus Money. Tribal members are already demanding a full accounting and the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance will keep working to ensure that the money that was to go to our children, our poor and disadvantaged, our addicted, goes to who needs these funds the most and not to the personal whims of a single person or their co-conspirators.

Click the Link below for a copy of the Audit.

Little Shell Tobacco Audit



September 23, 2009

Interior delays Little Shell decision again

From the Great Falls Tribune

By the Great Falls Tribune Staff and
the Associated Press

The Department of Interior has again delayed its long-stalled decision on whether the landless Little Shell Tribe of Montana deserves federal recognition.

"The only explanation they gave us is that the issues we present are abnormal and they need more time to sort through them," tribal Chairman John Sinclair of Havre said Tuesday.

"It gives me a kind of a sick feeling in my stomach," he said. "I can't understand how it can take so long to make a decision, especially when our people are suffering without it. I'd like to think there might be an end in sight, but there's no guarantee."

The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians date their quest for recognition to the 1860s, when a small band of American Indians led by Chief Little Shell was cut out of a treaty signed with federal authorities.

The tribe, which has about 4,300 members, is recognized by the state of Montana. It submitted its federal recognition application in 1978.

The new decision deadline is Oct. 26, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs George Skibine wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to the tribe.

Skibine wrote that the deadline was pushed back because the final decision is under legal review. The same reason was offered for a 60-day delay announced in July.



October 2, 2009

Tobacco money for Montana tribe cut off following audit

From the Billings Gazette

Mathew Brown
Associated Press

BILLINGS - State officials have stopped distributions of tobacco grant money to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians after an audit revealed problems with the tribe's accounting practices.

The Montana Department of Health and Human Services audit says lax oversight and record keeping "allows for potential abuse" of a $180,000 annual tobacco use prevention grant.

Half the money was for tobacco programs for the tribe's 4,300 members scattered across Montana and surrounding states and provinces. The remainder was for similar programs for American Indians in Great Falls and Billing/s.

The agency's public health administrator, Jane Smilie, says the funding could be restored if the tribe improves its accounting.

The audit stops short of alleging any wrongdoing. Little Shell tribal chairman John Sinclair says he believes no abuse took place.



September 23, 2009

Interior delays Little Shell decision again

From the Great Falls Tribune

By the Great Falls Tribune Staff and
the Associated Press

The Department of Interior has again delayed its long-stalled decision on whether the landless Little Shell Tribe of Montana deserves federal recognition.

"The only explanation they gave us is that the issues we present are abnormal and they need more time to sort through them," tribal Chairman John Sinclair of Havre said Tuesday.

"It gives me a kind of a sick feeling in my stomach," he said. "I can't understand how it can take so long to make a decision, especially when our people are suffering without it. I'd like to think there might be an end in sight, but there's no guarantee."

The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians date their quest for recognition to the 1860s, when a small band of American Indians led by Chief Little Shell was cut out of a treaty signed with federal authorities.

The tribe, which has about 4,300 members, is recognized by the state of Montana. It submitted its federal recognition application in 1978.

The new decision deadline is Oct. 26, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs George Skibine wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to the tribe.

Skibine wrote that the deadline was pushed back because the final decision is under legal review. The same reason was offered for a 60-day delay announced in July.



September 22, 2009

Interior delays Little Shell decision again

Great Falls Tribune

By the Associated Press

BILLINGS (AP) — The Department of Interior has delayed — yet again — its long-stalled decision on whether a landless Montana Indian tribe deserves federal recognition.

The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians date their quest for recognition to the 1860s, when a small band of American Indians led by Chief Little Shell was cut out of a treaty signed with federal authorities.

The tribe, with about 4,300 members, is recognized by the state of Montana. It submitted its federal recognition application in 1978.

The new decision deadline is Oct. 26, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs George Skibine wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to the tribe.

Skibine wrote that the deadline was pushed back because the final decision is still under legal review. The same reason was offered for a 60-day delay announced in July.



September 3, 2009

Group hopes to rebuild Hill 57 sweat lodge

From the Great Falls Tribune

By ERIC NEWHOUSE
Great Falls Tribune Projects Editor

Fire destroyed a historic sweat lodge on Hill 57 outside of Great Falls last weekend, and community leaders are taking it as a warning and a call to action.

"It was like a part of me died that day," said Peggy Meyers, who stood in support of Mike Gopher and James Parker Shield beside the charred fire pit Wednesday. Meyers grew up several hundred yards from the sweat lodge, and had used it since she was a child.

The sweat lodge beside an abandoned one-room shack near the base of Hill 57 was built by the late Robert Gopher, Mike Gopher's father, more than four decades ago. It burned Saturday night, after apparently being used for a sweat ceremony.

"Honestly, I think it was an accident," Gopher said Wednesday.

Even so, it's a very serious accident because the site is sacred.

"Fire, water, wood and stone — everything we use is sacred," Gopher said.

Shield likened it to a conflagration in a local church.

"In my mind, this sweat lodge is comparable to the big Presbyterian church or St. Ann's Cathedral," said Shield of the Little Shell Band of Chippewa. "It's the stronghold of our traditional Indian culture and Little Shell history, so this is devastating to us."

"I've been sweating here since I was a little girl," Meyers said. "And I remember my elders telling me that this is your church and you have to respect it and take care of it.

Meyers said she consulted with tribal elders and was told not to rebuild the sweat lodge on the same site.

"This is a warning for us because sweat lodges don't normally burn," she said. "There are beer cans and garbage being dumped here, which is a sign of disrespect for our lodge. People come up here every weekend to party.

"This is devastating to us," she added. "I want the community to know that this is a very sacred place because it is our home and we must protect it. Seeing that sweat lodge on Sunday morning was like something was taken away from all of us."

Prayer cloths tied around the trunk and branches of two trees beside the sweat lodge testified to its spirituality. Overhead, two eagles circled, which everyone at the site agreed was a good omen.

"We have to take this as a sign, warning and a call to action," Shield said. "We have to clean up this area and get young people involved here. We've been talking about building a simple community center where we can hold our round dances instead of renting a building at the fairgrounds."

The next round dance, in honor of Dorothy and Jane Gopher, will be Oct. 2-3 at the Family Living Building at Montana ExpoPark, Mike Gopher said.

But the group's mission extends to Hill 57 itself, where landless Indians have lived since the 1890s. It got its name from a huge "57" in white stones that was put in place to advertise Heinz ketchup.

During the 1920s, Indian camps beside the Missouri River "were burned out by city authorities, and the Indians took refuge on Hill 57, where a woman of Indian descent offered them land on which to build shacks," according to a 1964 study by the Citizens Committee on Great Falls Indian Affairs.

In 1954, William D. "Scotty" James, the late editor of the Great Falls Tribune, wrote about the poverty of Indians on Hill 57 and how local citizens buried their heads in the sand when they discovered the magnitude of the problems there.

Combing the archives of the Tribune, Mike Gopher read accounts of a huge sun dance held in 1914 at the base of Hill 57.

Myers said that her youngest brother, a newborn, was buried in a shoebox not far away from the burned sweat lodge.

"We need to have Hill 57 declared a national historic site," Shield said. "And I'd like to see housing up here to re-establish a dynamic Indian presence so that the developers don't take this area over and leave Hill 57 as something you just read about in the history books."



August 24, 2009

Tawnee Boham Montana's sole student at National Youth Leadership Conference

From the Great Falls Tribune

By KRISTEN CATES
Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

Leadership is a quality Tawnee Boham always has possessed, she just didn't discover how powerful it was until lately.

Boham, a soon-to-be senior at C.M. Russell High School was the only student from Montana who attended the National Youth Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. at the end of July.

Others were nominated from other schools, but Boham was the only one to follow through with her application and acceptance.

"I was really nervous because I've never been away from home or on a plane by myself," she said.

The daughter of Russell and Sandra Boham, she is also member of the Little Shell Chippewa Cree tribe and is very active in the leadership at CMR, but not in an attention-getting way, according to principal Dick Kloppel.

Boham serves on CMR's school improvement team, working with faculty and staff on a regular basis.

"She is a quiet, thoughtful leader," Kloppel said. "She's one of those people that doesn't talk a lot, but what she has to say is very meaningful."

At the conference with approximately 300 other high school students from around the country, Boham said she learned about the political process. They created a mock Congress where there were lobbyists and other political figures vying for amendments to energy and immigration laws.

"It was a really good leadership experience," she said. "It required a lot of charisma."

Boham also met with Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, and Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Montana, briefly to discuss topics concerning her and the legislators.

She said Tester talked with her about Little Shell tribal recognition and Rehberg talked to her about energy development in all sectors of the economy.

Throughout the conference, Boham said she gained a lot of self-confidence and said it was a "grueling but fun" conference. "It was probably one of the best experiences I've ever had," she said.



August 23, 2009

Pishkun's panels illuminate the past

From the Great Falls Tribune

By Great Falls Tribune Staff

ULM — Eight new panels unveiled this summer at First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park shed new light on the histories of Montana's Native American tribes and are helping boost park attendance.

"It's important for visitors to better understand Montana's Indian people and their culture in an effort to bring people a little closer together," said Robert Thomson, parks naturalist at the buffalo jump. "We have to remember the history of the tribes is the history of Montana."

Since the panels debuted this summer, many people have come to the park asking to see them, Thomson said.

The eight panels have replaced seven installed when the park's visitors' center was built a decade ago. The information about Montana's seven reservations and its residents was outdated, including facts on populations and how many tribal members spoke the tribes' languages.

Thanks to a $9,500 grant from the Montana Historical Society, the panels were updated and expanded. The update comes in the form of more history on Montana's tribes, including photos and references to important tribal members.

On the Chippewa Cree Tribe panel, for example, visitors discover that the Cree are one of the largest Native American tribes in North America. The panel goes on to explain that the bands and tribes lived in an area spreading from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.

"After the 1885 (Louis) Riel Rebellion in Canada, a group of Cree led by Little Bear settled in central Montana. They eventually united with a group of landless Chippewa under the leadership of Stone Child, cooperating in an effort to gain a permanent settlement of their own. The reservation was named after Chief Stone Child, but a mistranslation of the name by non-Indians resulted in the name Rocky Boy's Reservation," the Chippewa Cree panel reads.

Information for the panel came in part from Blackfeet tribal member Don Fish. Thomson created the panel's narrative text. With less emphasis placed on reservations and more on the tribes, a panel on the Little Shell Band of Chippewa was added to the mix for the first time.

"We always felt that was a bit of a slight," Thomson said of not including an entry for the Little Shell.

That panel reads "the Little Shell are one of the largest tribes in Montana and enrolled members can trace their heritage to the Chippewa people led by Chief Little Shell, as well as to the Cree and the Métis — mixed-blood people of French, Irish, Scots, Chippewa and Cree descent."

The panel tells how Chief Little Shell and his band were taken off reservation membership rolls in 1892, leading to a loss of federal recognition. Scattered and landless, many Little Shell people wandered back to Montana and settled throughout Montana.

In addition to history, the panels also bring visitors up-to-date on the current happenings of the tribes. The Little Shell panel tells that members of the state-recognized Little Shell Tribe now receive limited health and educational benefits but also about the tribe's struggle to become federally recognized.

Thomson added that since the panels were installed in late June, he has heard from Little Shell tribal members happy to have a panel.

"We've gotten a lot of really good feedback from those panels, especially people from tribes," Thomson said.

The park has seen about 3,000 more visitors compared to last year at this time, Thomson said. One of the largest buffalo jumps, or pishkuns, in North America, the park usually draws up to 25,000 visitors a year.

Experts believe the jump site was used from about 900 A.D. to 1500 A.D., and possibly longer, to kill buffalo.

To do this, an elder would sit in the middle of four tepees on a hill and call buffalo. As the buffalo neared, a runner would lead them to piles of rock that narrowed into a channel that led to the cliff's edge. Indians hiding behind the rock piles waved skins to frighten the herd and stampede the buffalo over the cliff.

Displays in the 6,000-square-foot, $2.2 million interpretive center, which opened in 1999, illustrate the significance of the buffalo to the Plains Indian tribes. Below the cliffs, which stretch more than a mile, the soil conceals compacted bison bones almost 13 feet deep.

In addition to the buffalo jump, there are a few more reasons for the attendance boost, according to Thomson. More Montanans are realizing that they pay state park admission when they renew their vehicle registration — which is a recent development, Thomson said. Montanans looking for a family outing on a budget are drawn to state parks because the admission fees already are covered.

"And they know they're going to get a quality experience out of it," Thomson said.

Also, the park has started to advertise the bow hunting opportunities in the park's further reaches, beyond established paths where no visitors are in danger, Thomson said. Hunters stalk mostly antelope and deer. The park issued 23 hunting permits in 2007 and 25 in 2008.

"It's always been legal to do bow hunting ... for years, we didn't advertise it properly," Thomson said. "It's become a huge deal for us."

The buffalo jump visitors' center will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Sept. 25. The panels are located in the storytelling circle at the visitor's center.

One more installment of the park's Jump Talks — which details how the jump was operated — is scheduled this summer. The next event is Aug. 29 and 30.

Also this week is the park's atlatl workshop, which runs from Wednesday to Friday. Participants will learn about the atlatl, a throwing stick used by prehistoric people as a hunting tool, and build one of their own.

To make reservations, call the park at 866-2217. The workshop fee is $30 per person.



August 1, 2009

New interpretive sign honors Metis history along Front

From the Great Falls Tribune

By KARL PUCKETT
Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

EAR MOUNTAIN — The Metis people — a mix of Native American, French and Scottish ancestry — once lived in small settlements in secluded canyons on the Rocky Mountain Front after fleeing persecution in Canada.

That history is now officially recognized in writing by the federal government at a trailhead here — even if the Metis remain unrecognized as a tribe.

"It's magnificent," 66-year-old Darryl Gray of Great Falls said.

During a sometimes emotional ceremony, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Friday unveiled an interpretive panel in a kiosk at the Ear Mountain Outstanding Natural Area, 25 miles west of Choteau.

The display is just 6 feet by 4 feet, but the Metis who attended the ceremony said presenting their story is a big deal.

Gray, who is Chippewa-Cree, French, Scottish and Blackfeet, called the information panel a "resurrection" of his people's history. It is titled, "The Metis: An Adaptive and Innovative Indian Culture."

"We have deep roots here and that's why the South Fork holds such a special place in our hearts," said Al Wiseman, a 72-year-old Metis from Choteau.

Until about 1920, a Metis village of about 100 people and 20 cabins was located just upstream from the trailhead on the South Fork of the Teton River. A Metis cemetery is still located in the area.

"History is not just about Columbus," said Kristal Fox of Harlem, whose father was Metis. "We're a First Nations people, and a lot of people don't know about mixed-blood people."

Fox was one of about 65 to attend the display dedication. Many were Metis, some traveling from as far away as Havre, Great Falls and Helena.

Fox said the public history lesson would help visitors to the area "know who we are."

Fox's husband, Jim Fox, and her son, Vince, played traditional Metis music, which has a Celtic foundation and Indian rhythms and melody lines. When Jim, playing guitar, and Vince, on the fiddle, began playing the "Red River Jig," Wiseman started dancing. The song is considered the Metis national anthem, Jim Fox said.

In 1996, Wiseman first suggested the idea of putting up a sign explaining the Metis history to the BLM, but agency officials said the funding just came through recently.

Wiseman said he and his father-in-law, Alfred Gray, who has since died, first talked about it 45 years ago.

Gray was born in the village in 1915. Wiseman's mother was born there as well.

The jagged peaks of the Rockies served as a backdrop as Wiseman, wearing a traditional Metis sash and a colorful red shirt to go with his white cowboy hat and black boots, explained the history of the Metis to the crowd.

At one point, his voice cracked with emotion.

"Long time coming," Wiseman told Nicholas Vrooman just before the start of the ceremony.

Vrooman is a Metis scholar from Helena.

"I wouldn't miss this!" a gleeful Vrooman told Wiseman as they clasped hands.

Vrooman said a string of small Metis settlements used to exist on the Front from Dupuyer to Birch Creek to Dearborn. After suffering racial and religious persecution, Metis sought secluded places to live, Wiseman added. The South Fork of the Teton settlement was known by the whites as "Breed Town," Wiseman said.

"It is incredibly significant for the BLM to mark and honor this community," Vrooman said.

Wiseman thanked BLM officials for keeping their promise to put up the display, especially Rod Sanders, an outdoor recreation planner who took the lead. Sanders said the event was a big day for him personally as well professionally because his father, who was part Native American, recently died, and the interpretive panel was a way to honor to him.

Wiseman gave Sanders a model version of the wooden carts the Metis were known for making. The carts helped the Metis in their travels and came in handy during bison hunts.

Members of the tribe of mixed-blood French/Scottish and Indian people, who evolved during the 17th century Canadian fur trade, began migrating to Montana in the 1870s because of conflicts with European and Canadian immigrants, the interpretive panel says.

In the 1880s, Louis Riel, a devout Catholic and exiled Metis leader, returned to Canada in an attempt to reclaim the Metis homeland. At the time, he was working at St. Peter's Mission in Cascade.

The Resistance, as it became known, ended in defeat, and Riel was sent to the gallows on Nov. 16, 1885.

Today, the Metis are not recognized by the federal government as a tribe, the interpretive panel notes, but their distinct traditions like fiddle playing persist.

"All of us have our history, but when we honor that it makes us especially proud," said Richard Hopkins, who was with the BLM when the project was first proposed and now manages First Peoples Buffalo Jump near Ulm.



July 31, 2009

Tester expresses concern over Little Shell delay

From the Great Falls Tribune

From The Great Falls Tribune Staff

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., a member of the Indian Affairs Committee, told a top Interior Department official this week that he is "greatly concerned" about delaying the decision for federal recognition of Montana's Little Shell Tribe.

Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs George Skibine told the Little Shell Band of Chippewa this week that he is postponing for 60 days the decision to formally recognize the tribe. The delay is the latest in a series of setbacks for the Little Shell, which has sought federal recognition for more than 31 years.

"I know how difficult and important these decisions are, but another delay for the Little Shell people is a major setback for them," Tester wrote Wednesday in a letter to Skibine. "Time is not on our side. And, considering the timeline of events over the past 31 years, the Little Shell people deserve a decision — not another delay."

Tester added that he eagerly awaits a decision from the Interior Department no later than Sept. 25. He also invited Skibine to Montana "to see firsthand the issues the Little Shell people face, and to meet its members." In 2007, Tester introduced legislation — his first as a U.S. senator — to grant federal recognition to the Little Shell. The State of Montana has officially recognized the tribe since 2000.

During an Indian Affairs Committee hearing earlier this year, Tester pressed Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about why recognizing the Little Shell has taken so long. Salazar said the federal recognition process needs to be streamlined. Meanwhile, a former tribal attorney for the Little Shell wrote to Tester and Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, pushing for legislative pressure to speed up the process.

"I was once the attorney for the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana and, on Sept. 16, 1977, I wrote comments on the proposed tribal recognition rules on behalf of the tribe," wrote James W. Zion, now practicing in Albuquerque, N.M. "I note George Skibine's latest letter to the Little Shell, informing the tribe of more delay. George was there almost 40 years ago, and I heard him giving excuses then.

Zion noted that ample documentation supporting recognition has been provided.

"As a matter of fact, my September 1977 submission on behalf of the Little Shell was nine single-spaced pages of legal argument that clearly outlined the issues for decision," Zion added. "More delay is unconscionable."

He also stated that the Obama administration should join in forcing the issue.

"The Little Shell Tribe is, in fact, a bellwether of American Indian policy. Will the hope that the Obama campaign generated spill over into new policies so that trust responsibility has meaning?" Zion said. "Or will the bureaucracy eat (Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs) Larry EchoHawk alive, as it seems to be doing?"



July 28, 2009

Little Shell still waiting BIA decision

From the Billings Gazette

From the AP Press

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has delayed for another 60 days its long-stalled decision over whether to grant federal recognition to a landless Montana tribe.

The roughly 4,300 members of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians are officially recognized by the state of Montana but have been unsuccessful in their decades-long fight for federal acknowledgment.

The latest delay, announced Monday, was needed to continue a legal review of the tribe's case, according to a letter from Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs George Skibine.

He wrote that the case "contemplated a number of departures from precedent" - an allusion to gaps in the Little Shell's documented history and frequent intermarriage between members and outsiders.

Little Shell chairman John Sinclair said the delay was disappointing but not surprising given the federal government's rigid recognition process.

"We have a bureaucratic system where we're kind of a square peg for their round hole," Sinclair said. "We're just hoping for a positive finding at the end."

The Little Shell's ancestors migrated to the Northern Plains in the 1700s. They were forced to leave in the 1860s after Chief Little Shell and his band were excluded from a federal treaty signed with related tribes.

Its members scattered to Montana and surrounding states and provinces.

In 1978 tribal leaders filed a formal recognition petition with the federal government and in 2000 the government announced it was leaning toward recognition.

After years of delay, Skibine in January set a Monday deadline for the agency to make a decision. When that time expired, he set a Sept. 25 deadline.

BIA spokeswoman Nedra Darling said there was no limit on such extensions.

Federal recognition would make the Little Shell eligible for health, housing and other benefits.



July 28, 2009

Little Shell recognition decision delayed

From the Great Falls Tribune

By ERIC NEWHOUSE
Great Falls Tribune Projects Editor

After decades of waiting for federal recognition, the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe of Montana has been told to wait for another 60 days.

"We did get a letter from them (the Bureau of Indian Affairs) today, and there's another delay," said Little Shell President John Sinclair on Monday. "We're not sure why — we assume it's to review their findings."

Nedra Darling, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, confirmed that the delay was needed to finalize the department's legal review.

"The assistant secretary has the discretion to extend the period for the preparation of the final determination if warranted by the extent and nature of the evidence and arguments received during the response period," she said Monday.

"Because the proposed finding contemplates a number of departures from precedent, the final determination requires a thorough legal review which is not yet complete," she said.

The BIA proposes to render a decision on or before Sept. 25, Darling said.

It's a high-stakes decision.

Recognition would mean that the 4,300-member Little Shell Tribe, most of whom live in Great Falls or northcentral Montana, would be eligible to apply for federal services and funding to build clinics, schools and housing, said Darling.

The federal government officially recognizes 562 tribes.

Newly recognized tribes of 1,500 to 3,000 members can get $320,000 annually in federal start-up funds for up to three years, Darling said. Start-up funding for larger tribes such as the Little Shell is handled case by case.

Most of the recognition agreements were reached via treaties signed decades ago, Darling said.

In 1892, while Chief Little Shell and 112 families were hunting bison in Montana, a government "Indian agent" arranged to buy a portion of their Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota for use by white homesteaders, said Little Shell Executive Director Russell Boham.

Upon returning, Little Shell protested and his band was kicked out, leaving them unrecognized and landless, Boham said. They migrated to Montana, where two-thirds of today's Little Shell remain, Boham said.

The government initially refused to grant the tribe's request to be recognized because some members were Metis, or "mixed blood," he said.

Darling said she can't comment on why recognition for the Little Shell has dragged on for so long. The recognition office was formed in 1978 specifically to handle Indian recognition issues. Although the tribe had been seeking recognition for decades, the Little Shell submitted its formal petition in 1984.

She did say the tribe's petition is large and complex. In every case, she said, delays can result from requests by the government for more documentation and because not all tribes have full-time research staffs. Each petition must meet seven stringent criteria, including evidence of links to a historical tribe, Darling said.

In 2000, the recognition office published a preliminary ruling in the Federal Register stating the Little Shell "exists as an Indian tribe," but requested additional documentation before finalizing the decision, Boham said.

More than 250 Indian groups are still hoping to get recognized through the Office of Federal Recognition. Tribes in Louisiana, New York, California and Wisconsin also are awaiting decisions, while an additional eight petitions are awaiting consideration, Darling said.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, citing repeated delays in Little Shell recognition, called the process broken during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee meeting in February.

And Rep. Denny Rehberg, seeking to circumvent the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has introduced legislation in Congress to recognize the Little Shell.

Sinclair testified on behalf of the tribe before the House Natural Resources Committee, which was hearing the legislation two weeks ago, and Rehberg told the committee that "We have the power to correct a historic injustice."



July 27, 2009

Little Shell recognition bid delayed for 60 days

From the Great Falls Tribune

According to the Great Falls Tribune, the Decision to recognize the tribe for Government to Government relations with the US Government has been delayed for another 60 days. No reasons given.

July 16, 2009

Little Shell recognition bid seeks Congressional help

From the Great Falls Tribune

WASHINGTON — Obama administration officials say a decision on whether to recognize the Little Shell Tribe is imminent. But after 31 years of waiting, tribal leaders want Congress to step in.

"There is no serious question that the Little Shell people are an Indian tribe," tribe President John Sinclair told members of the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday. "The United States always knew who we are."

The tribe has petitioned the Interior Department since 1978 for official recognition. The designation not only would entitle it to federal Indian programs, such as health, public safety and education, but also confer a measure of legitimacy and pride that its members have sought for more than a century.

But "at every turn, the Department of Interior has promised action, only to postpone it," Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., told fellow lawmakers at the hearing. "We have the power to correct a historic injustice."

Rehberg's bill not only would recognize the tribe but also would direct Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to acquire and put into trust 200 acres for the Little Shell tribe, which has not had its own land since its ancestors left North Dakota in the 1800s.

"It's the right thing to do," Rehberg said. "It's already taken too long."

Little Shell is one of four tribes seeking recognition, including ones in Washington state and Michigan, that took part in Wednesday's hearing.

There are 563 federally recognized tribes. The Interior Department has received letters from about another 250 seeking such a designation, said George Skibine, acting deputy assistant for Indian affairs in the Interior Department.

Skibine asked the lawmakers not to move ahead with the bill because, he said, his agency is expected to render a decision on recognition in the next several weeks.

But tribal leaders and lawmakers criticized the agency's process for determining who gets recognized and who doesn't. Natural Resources Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., called it "broken and unfair."

Agency officials defended their system, saying it is based on a methodical evaluation of seven criteria, including proof that the tribe has been recognized continuously as a body since 1900 and that most of its members comprise "a distinct community."

Already recognized by the state of Montana, the Little Shell Tribe has about 5,000 members and is headquartered in Great Falls. Some have dual membership with the Rocky Boy's Indians and would have to choose which to identify with if Little Shell wins recognition, Sinclair said.

Contact Ledyard King at lking@gannett.com.



July 14, 2009

Tribal group gets $5M to battle alcoholism

From the Billings Gazette

DIANE COCHRAN Of The Billings Gazette Staff

$5 million grant from the federal government will help American Indian tribes in Montana and Wyoming curb alcohol abuse among their members.

The five-year award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will fund programs to reduce underage drinking and create sober communities for recovering alcoholics.

The Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council announced Monday that it received the grant, which began July 1.

Serious problem

Alcohol abuse is a continuing and serious problem in American Indian communities, said Gordon Belcourt, the council's executive director.

"Part of the problem is people are using alcohol and drugs to escape," Belcourt said.

The future can seem grim to young American Indians living on reservations with high rates of unemployment and substance abuse, he said.

As many as 13 percent of American Indians are dependent on alcohol, according to the council's statistics. That is more than three times the rate of alcoholism in the general population.

The Tribal Leaders Council will distribute the grant money to its 11 member tribes as prevention programs are developed.

Some of the money will help create sober communities, or housing developments and social networks that forbid alcohol.

"One of the biggest problems we have with people in recovery is their whole social world is now a danger to them," said Craig Love, a consultant who helped the Tribal Leaders Council secure the grant.

Cultural activities

It will also fund efforts to steer children and teenagers away from alcohol, including cultural activities and programs that encourage kids to learn traditional ways from elders.

"We want to create some heroes and mythology for our young people," Belcourt said.

Members of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council include the Blackfeet, Chippewa Cree, Crow, Eastern Shoshone, Fort Belknap, Fort Peck, Little Shell, Northern Arapaho, Northern Cheyenne, and Salish and Kootenai tribes.

In addition to its community-level prevention work, the organization plans to open a drug and alcohol treatment center in Sheridan, Wyo., later this year.

The Inter-Tribal Wellness Center would treat as many as 100 American Indians a year for alcohol and drug dependency.

Contact Diane Cochran at dcochran@billingsgazette.com or 657-1287.



July 8, 2009

Hearing set for Little Shell's recognition

From the Great Falls Tribune

WASHINGTON — The House Committee on Natural Resources will hold a legislative hearing July 15 on efforts to acquire federal recognition for the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe, Rep. Denny Rehberg said Tuesday.

Rehberg has introduced legislation to recognize the tribe in each of the last two sessions of Congress since the Department of the Interior has stalled for so long on federal recognition.

"Since April 28, 1978, the Little Shell have wrestled with Washington bureaucrats to get well-deserved federal recognition," said Rehberg, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. "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," Rehberg said.This hearing is great news and is an important step toward recognition."

The Natural Resources Committee is the committee of jurisdiction for the House since it has no Indian Affairs Committee like the U.S. Senate.

The Little Shell Tribe is made up of approximately 4,300 members, mostly in the Great Falls area.In 2000, the same year the tribe was recognized by the state of Montana, the Department of Interior issued a positive finding for the tribe, making it eligible for recognition.Since then, little progress has been made because of bureaucratic obstacles.Rehberg's bill expedites recognition through the legislative process.

"The state of Montana and Montana's other tribal nations recognize the Little Shell," said Little Shell Executive Director Russell Boham. "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 self-determination can really mean self-sufficiency for our Little Shell families."

Webmaster Note: Info on the House Committe hearing:

The House Natural Resources Committee, led by Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), will hold a legislative hearing on the following bills:

•H.R. 2678 (McDermott): "Duwamish Tribal Recognition Act"
•H.R. 1358 (Stupak): "Burt Lake Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians Reaffirmation Act"
•H.R. 3084 (Baird): "Chinook Nation Restoration Act"
•H.R. 3120 (Rehberg): "Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Restoration Act of 2009"

Subject:
House Natural Resources Committee
Legislative Hearing on H.R. 2678, H.R. 1358, H.R. 3084, and H.R. 3120

When:
Wednesday, July 15, 2009, at 10:00 a.m.

Where:
Room 1324 Longworth House Office Building

Witnesses:
TBA

The hearing will be webcast live and archived on the Committee's Web site at http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/.

July 7, 2009

Congressional hearing set for Little Shell Chippewa Tribe

From the Great Falls Tribune

BILLINGS (AP) — A congressional committee will hold a hearing next week into a decades-long attempt by the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe to be officially recognized by the federal government.

The estimated 4,300 Little Shell have no reservation and are scattered across central Montana and beyond. They were recognized by the state in 2000 but have failed for generations to gain federal recognition.

Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, the state’s only member of the House of Representatives, said he convinced the House Natural Resources Committee to hold a hearing July 15 on a bill he is sponsoring to speed up the recognition process.

The tribe’s request is now stalled inside the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The agency has said it will make a decision by June 27, but has missed prior deadlines.



July 4, 2009

Youths sought for tribal summit

From the Great Falls Tribune

The Montana Wyoming Tribal Youth Summit will be held July 28-31 at Luccock Park Camp, 9 miles south of Livingston.The summit's purpose is to eliminate the Native American graduation gap by 2018.

The summit will feature status reports on Native American graduation and drop-out rates, youth perspectives, success stories and action planning.

Featured speakers include Ray Daw, Mandy Smoker Broaddus and Dr. Steven Sroka.

Organizers are looking for attendees ranging from key tribal and nontribal decision-makers to youth. The cost for adults is $120, which covers lodging and food. The summit is free for youth.

For more information, contact Kristin Lundgren at 406-252-3839, ext. 14, or Stephanie Iron Shooter at 406-252-2550. Application deadline is July 17.

To register, e-mail Tari Burt at tari.burt@united way.org or call her at 406-252-3839, extension 16. Please include the name, title, business or agency, phone number, address and e-mail for each person registering.



May 9, 2009

Tribe holding disputed balloting

From the Billings Gazette

By The Associated Press

Members of the Little Shell Chippewa tribe are set to vote in a new council today, in an election marred by political infighting including the barring of several would-be candidates from the ballot.

Polling places will be set up in Billings, Browning, Butte, Great Falls, Havre and Helena. The estimated 4,500 Little Shell have no reservation and are spread through northern and central Montana.

The election had been delayed since Nov. 4, when the Tribal Council barred four candidates from running.

At least three more have since been barred, including two candidates who also were disenrolled from the tribe.

The Little Shell tribe is recognized by the state but has faced decades of delays from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs over its request for federal recognition.

Several of the rejected candidates were prior council members. One who was disenrolled is a former vice chairman for the Little Shell.

Critics accuse tribal President John Sinclair and other incumbents of manipulating the election to their advantage.

Operating through a splinter group called the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance, they plan to protest today's election.

"They're twisting the tribal constitution for their own political gain in terms of determining who can run against them and who can't," said Gerald Gray, a tribal member who was blocked from running for first vice chairman.

Five members of the Alliance filed a federal lawsuit this week asking a judge in Great Falls to issue an injunction blocking the election.

U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon on Friday denied the request.

Sinclair said he was trying to make the process fair but was forced to take action because he said Alliance members were confusing potential voters, in part by sending out mailings opposing the election.

"When you fight in a tribe like that it's basically family - and family fights are the worst," he said.

The tribe's executive director, Russell Boham, said disenrolled members had failed to pass required background checks.

That included an assessment of whether they had the proper ancestry.



May 9, 2009

Disenfranchised faction vows to fight today's Little Shell elections

From the Great Falls Tribune

By TRAVIS COLEMAN
Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

The Little Shell Chippewa Tribe today will hold its elections that have been delayed for six months, a period in which some candidates were either removed from the ballot or thrown out of the tribe.

Some removed candidates tried to block the election through a federal injunction, but U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon denied the request Friday, saying there were "extremely limited" circumstances to justify blocking the election.

Since the injunction failed, ballots will be cast today at polling places across the state and counted on May 23 in Great Falls.

Tribal Chairman John Sinclair is running unopposed for the chairman position, with Alvina Allen and Ronald "Cree" Doney vying for first vice president. Voters also will elect three tribal council members from a field of seven at-large candidates.

The injunction is the latest flap among the tribe's members since before the election's originally scheduled date in November. It was then that a group of tribal members were removed as council nominees for various alleged violations of tribal regulations. Sinclair then pushed the election back.

The Little Shell Chippewa Alliance soon formed. The group was made up in part of removed council candidates who criticized Sinclair's leadership and the impartiality of the tribe's election committee. The alliance plans to protest the election outside of tribal headquarters in Great Falls today.

John Gilbert, a former tribal chairman and head of the alliance, was disqualified from running against Sinclair because he helped send out referendum ballots asking tribal members if the alliance should run its own election for a new tribal council, Sinclair said.

"It's ridiculous," Gilbert said of the reason why he was disqualified. "We're upset. We feel our rights have been taken away."

Sinclair acknowledged that the move to disqualify Gilbert could be perceived by some people as a way to ensure he wins re-election. But he said he wanted Gilbert to run, adding it was the tribe's election committee that made the decision to remove his opponent from the ballot.

"I do understand why he's angry, but he shouldn't have done the thing that got him disqualified," Sinclair said.

Other candidates removed from the ballot include prior council members. Two candidates, including James Parker Shield, a former Little Shell vice chairman, also were disenrolled from the tribe, according to court documents.

"They're twisting the tribal constitution for their own political gain in terms of determining who can run against them and who can't,"' said Gerald Gray, a tribal member who was blocked from running for first vice chairman.

Sinclair said he was trying to make the process fair, but was forced to take action because Little Shell Chippewa Alliance members were confusing potential voters, in part by sending out mailings opposing the election.

The tribe's executive director, Russell Boham, said the tribal members who were disenrolled failed to pass required background checks. The check included an assessment of whether the individuals had the proper ancestry to qualify for tribal membership.

Because the tribe is not federally recognized, no court has authority to resolve the issue between the rival factions. Shield said the plaintiffs will try again to get the injunction heard in court in hopes of blocking the ballot count.

"When you fight in a tribe like that, it's basically family — and family fights are the worst," Sinclair said.

Where to vote

Little Shell tribal members can vote at the following polling places today in Montana:

Great Falls:Westgate Mall, 1807 3rd St. N.W., Suite 35A
Billings: 711 Central Ave., Suite 30
Helena: Lewis and Clark Public Library, 120 S. Last Chance Gulch
Havre: Human Resources Development Council, 2229 5th Ave.
Butte: Butte Plaza Mall, 3100 Harrison Ave.
Browning: New Eagle Shield Center, 5525 Haul Road

All polls will be open between noon and 8 p.m. except in Helena, where they will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.



May 8, 2009

Opinion: Questions about election

From the Havre Daily News

Editor:

Dear Little Shell Chippewa Tribal Members, Is the Little Shell election legal? Little Shell Chippewa Tribal elections are being held on Saturday at six polling stations throughout the state in the cities of Billings, Browning, Butte, Great Falls, Havre and Helena.

Large numbers of Little Shell Tribal members believe the election is unfair and possibly illegal because: The terms of John Sinclair, past president, Ronald Cree Doney and Steve Doney all expired in November 2008. What legal authority are they acting on to set a new election as they see fit?

Sinclair has made official decisions about how, when and where the election is going to be held, when he is no longer an elected — nor an official — spokesman for the Little Shell Tribe.

Why have candidates running against former President John Sinclair and his running mates been "disqualified" or "disenrolled" from the Tribe?

The election committee, chaired by an incumbent councilman's sister, accused people of wrongdoing and being convicted of crimes and then removed some candidates' names from the ballot, when the committee cannot prove the individuals have ever committed or been convicted of a crime!

Why is the Tribal newsletter being used to spread falsehoods about former Tribal leaders? Have you ever heard of an election where candidates cannot campaign?

Sinclair removed people from Tribal membership for running for Tribal Council because they had not gotten his permission to use the name Little Shell or Little Shell Tribe in any public way.

Sinclair and the election committee did not abide by the Tribe's constitution when holding the Tribal election. There is a two-week delay between election day and May 23 when ballots will be counted. Shouldn't votes be counted immediately after the polls close? What's up? Why was each absentee ballot numbered at the bottom of the ballot? What's up?

Why doesn't the Tribal newsletter contain the candidates "biographical" information and their statements of what they would do to help the tribe? (Candidates provided this information at election committee's request, but it wasn't printed in the newsletter. Why?)

Can we expect a fair and honest election where the election committee chair is the sister of an incumbent council candidate?

Is the election hijacked?

Are Sinclair’s actions hurting the Little Shell's opportunity for federal recognition?

To protest this election, Tribal members should write:

"I protest the May 9, 2009, election as an illegal election!"; sign and date the letter; and mail this statement to:

Little Shell Chippewa Alliance, P. O. Box 1498, Great Falls, MT 59403.

Gerald Gray
Billings

May 8, 2009

Little Shell to hold election, but some candidates barred

From the Great Falls Tribune

Associated Press

BILLINGS (AP) — Members of the Little Shell Chippewa tribe are set to vote in a new council on Saturday in an election marred by political infighting including the rejection of several hopeful candidates.

Polling places will be set up in Billings, Browning, Butte, Great Falls, Havre and Helena. The estimated 4,500 Little Shell have no reservation and are spread through northern and central Montana.

The election had been delayed since Nov. 4, when the Tribal Council barred four candidates from running. At least two candidates — including a former vice chairman — have since been disenrolled from the tribe.

Critics of incumbent tribal President John Sinclair accuse him of manipulating the election to his advantage. Sinclair maintains he's tried to make the process fair.



May 7, 2009

Opinion: Hijacked election

From the Great Falls Tribune

John Gilbert,
past Little Shell chairman and councilman, Great Falls

To all our Little Shell tribal members, you need to get involved and ask questions concerning our upcoming election to be held May 9. It is literally being hijacked. In my opinion, this election is rigged. Just so you know, several very good and competent candidates have been disqualified or disenrolled. This is a very BOLD and calculated action to take by the election committee and others. All the competition has been removed.

Being one of the candidates who was running for the position of chairman and was disqualified by some trumped-up accusation has shocked me, not to mention the insult of it all. For those of you who received your Little Shell tribal newsletter, it is absolutely scandalous and full of outright lies. To see one person running for chairman should open your eyes. This whole bunch needs to be booted out. They are dangerous. We all have had enough of this inside bickering. We need unity and an honest council. We need change!



April 22, 2009

Longtime lawmakers say farewell to serving in Capitol

From the Great Falls Tribune

By JOHN S. ADAMS
Tribune Capitol Bureau

HELENA — Two term-limited state senators from northcentral Montana bid emotional adieus to their colleagues on the floor Tuesday.

Sen. Joe Tropila, D-Great Falls, and Sen. Ken "Kim" Hansen, D-Harlem, are both term-limited and will finish their runs in the Senate when the Legislature adjourns sometime within the next week or so.

Following Senate tradition, both men delivered their farewell speeches Tuesday.

Tropila, who served 24 years in the House and Senate during the past 34 years, said his tenure has been "a good ride."

"I used to have a horse named Ginger, a three-quarter mare, rust colored, (she) was a great ride," Tropila said in his opening remarks. "But this ride here was a lot better than a ride on that horse — and that horse was great."

Tropila was in the House from 1974-80, and then became Cascade County clerk and recorder through 1993, at which time he returned to the House. He returned to the Senate in 2003 after he was term limited in the House.

Tropila said that throughout his legislative career he dedicated himself to what he called "the three C's": cooperation, consensus and compromise. He also used his farewell speech to rail against term limits, which he said has made it more difficult to live by that code.

"I am adamantly opposed to term limits," Tropila said. "I think term limits belong at the ballot box by the voters. If they want you, they'll vote for you. If they don't, they'll vote you out."

Hansen served two terms in the Senate, first in Senate District 46 and then in Senate District 17. He said he first dreamed of serving in the Legislature in 1971, when he worked as a Senate page.

"As a young man, I had dreams. I had a dream that one day I would be back to serve the people of this great state, that one day I would be back to represent northcentral Montana to the best of my ability," Hansen said.

On Monday, Gov. Brian Schweitzer signed the bill that Hansen called the most important one of his career. Senate Bill 8 will allow irrigators, municipalities, recreationists, tribes and other Milk River stakeholders to form a regional authority to determine how water users will be charged to help pay for the state's share of the $154 million repair bill — around $38 million — for the St. Mary's diversion.

Hansen said his primary goal as a lawmaker was to fight for northcentral Montana's rural communities.

"What I really try to do more than anything is I try to bring funding back to northcentral Montana, because quite often we're always at a rural-urban battle in the state of Montana," Hansen said in an interview. "A lot of times the rural areas get left out. That's what I'm here for."

Tropila said he was most proud to sponsor bills in the 1970s to fund the state colleges of technology, the McLaughlin Research Institute and the Montana School for the Deaf and the Blind. He said he also is especially proud of his work in 2001, when he helped the Legislature pass a resolution urging the federal government to recognize the landless Little Shell Tribe. That measure unanimously passed the House and received 43 votes in the Senate.

"We're still working on that with the (federal government), but at least we got them some land," Tropila said.

His son, Sen. Mitch Tropila, D-Great Falls, gave perhaps the most emotional speech of the day as he stood on a point of personal privilege to recognize his father. The Tropilas are the only father-son duo in recent memory to serve together in the Legislature.

"I would be a fool if I had not grabbed the opportunity in front of me today," said the younger Tropila. "So I will turn and say these words: It has been an honor and a pleasure, and at the end of my days I will look back and I will say that this is one of the best things I've ever did. For I had the privilege of serving with a well-respected man on both sides of the aisle, Sen. Joe Tropila. Oh, and by the way, I love you, Dad."

Being that he turns 74 next month, Joe Tropila is unlikely to return to the Legislature. Public officials are barred from seeking re-election if they have already held the office for eight years in any 16-year period.

Hansen left open the possibility of running for the House some day.

"I'm going to leave that door open," Hansen said. "Right now, I want to just go back home and get to work and help on the family farm and ranch and be with my wife."



April 8, 2009

Little Shell Alliance decides to disband

From the Great Falls Tribune Letters to the Editor

Members of the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance have voted to disband as a group, effective today, alliance spokesman James Parker Shield said Tuesday.

"Alliance members feel we achieved our primary objective," Shield said. "We were successful in pressing for an election, and the Little Shell Election Committee has announced it will be held on May 9."

The alliance was formed after last fall's tribal elections were canceled, Shield said. It declared that the incumbents were in office illegally and mailed out 3,000 letters with ballots to tribal members asking if the alliance should be in charge of running the election for a new tribal council. It also asked if tribal members believed the current council's actions were illegal.



April 1, 2009

Tradition upheld

From the Great Falls Tribune Letters to the Editor

As a lifelong resident of Glacier County who has hunted and fished on the Rocky Mountain Front throughout my life, and an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe, I have concern about the wise use of the Badger-Two Medicine area.

I feel strongly that all people need specific places to go where they are able to seek solitude from the stresses of everyday life, where native people may honor their cultural and spiritual practices in keeping with their traditions. My ancestors lived and died in this area. What better place on earth than the Badger-Two Medicine to continue traditional use.

There are only a significantly small number of areas in the world today that have not been negatively impacted by mankind, where people have labored to preserve that special individuality. We are so fortunate that we have one of those treasured places right here in Montana. A few think it is strictly a chunk of real estate to be enjoyed as they see fit. But many of us see it as much more than that. For this reason, I whole-heartedly support the Lewis and Clark National Forest's Record of Decision for the Badger-Two Medicine area travel management plan.
— Larry Salois, Cut Bank



March 30, 2009

Native Montana Magazine

From the KFBB News Team.

A magazine targeted toward Montanans unveiled a special edition Wednesday featuring important Native Americans in our state. Native Americans are being celebrated in Native Montana Magazine to showcase their positive contributions to society. The magazine has been in circulation for a year and a half and this special edition features elected officials including the highest elected Native-American official... Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau.

Native Montana Magazine is fully supported by advertising and can be picked up for free across the state. Native Montana Magazine publisher James Parker Shield said, "We need to make sure that people understand that we're full participants in the state of Montana and its government and that we have people that are achieving significant milestones not as individuals buts on the behalf of native americans."



Webmaster Note: You can visit and view the magazine at their website: www.Native-Montana.com



March 22, 2009

Little Shell Tribal Members overwhelmingly make their Voices heard; Votes out unConstitutional Appointed Council and authorizes newConstitutional Elections for Tribal Council.

From the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance.

Webmaster Note: Updated to Correct Totals that were provided by the LSCA

Little Shell Tribal members participated in a Constitutional Referendum that asked Tribal Members if they felt that the Tribal Council was beyond their Constitutional Term-Limit, and if so, should they be allowed to stay in office, and if an election must be held to elect Tribal Members to the Council in a Constitutional manner in doing so making their vote legally binding upon the council itself.

In an Overwhelming showing, the Tribal Members voted their Constitutional power in the following manner:

Question 1: I believe an election by the people should be conducted by the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance to elect Tribal Council members and Tribal Officers for the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe of Montana.

94% Voted "YES", the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance is Authorized to hold Constitutional Elections For Tribal Council.
6% Voted "NO", the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance is NOT Authorized to hold Constitutional Elections for Tribal Council.

Referendum Question 1 Passes. Tribal Members authorize a NEW Constitutional Tribal Election

Question 2: I believe the last elected Tribal Council and Tribal Officers of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe of Montana are beyond their Constitutional term limits, which expired according to the Constitution on January 1, 2009 and thus all actions taken by them after January 1, 2009 are neither legal, nor binding.

92% Voted "YES", The Tribal Council members are beyond their Term-limit and are therefore no longer Authorized to Speak for the Tribal Members nor act as the Government of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe of Montana.
8% Voted "NO", The Tribal Council members are authorized to remain in office.

Referendum Question 2 Passes. The Tribal Council has been Constitutionally Voted out of office and it's members are no longer are authorized to operate or represent the Tribal members in any manner.

The Little Shell Chippewa Alliance feels that this is a Historical Vote by the Tribal members who exercised their Constitution Rights under Article III, Section X and Article IV of the Little Shell Chippewa Indians of Montana Constitution. This is the first time in the History of the Tribe, since being reorganized September 19, 1977 that tribal members needed to exercise their Constitutional Power to reign in an out of control Council of whom decided to strip tribal members of their civil right to an elected and representative government.

365 Total physical Ballots mailed in.
Of these, the official Votes for:

Question 1 is:
349 Total Validated Votes, of these:
329 YES Votes or 94.26% of the Q1 Validated Votes (329/349=.9624)
20 NO Votes or 5.74% of the Q1 Validated Votes (20/349=.0574)

Question 2 is:
348 Total Validated Votes, of these:
321 YES Votes or 92.24% of the Q2 Validated Votes (321/348=.9224)
27 NO Votes or 7.76% of the Q2 Validated Votes (27/348=.0776)



March 17, 2009

Little Shell Council claims rival group stole identities

From the Great Falls Tribune.

By KIM SKORNOGOSKI
Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

The Little Shell Tribal Council said a newly formed rival group stole tribal members' private information to mail out a referendum asking to oust the current council.

"This is identity theft, and the tribal council will take action to protect our members," tribal president John Sinclair said. "This breech of trust is particularly sad because it appears to have been perpetrated by former tribal officials who are using the information for personal gain."

The tribe's executive director, Russell Boham, said Monday that the issue came to their attention when tribal members called in complaining that they received unsolicited mail.

The council has a database of 4,200 tribal members, which includes names, addresses, birthdates, names of relatives and tribal identification numbers.

"Our assumption is that somebody either from the alliance stole it or somebody in the office gave it or sold it to the alliance," Boham said.

Earlier this month, the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance sent out 3,000 letters to tribal members and a ballot asking if the alliance should be in charge of running the election for a new tribal council and if tribal members agree that the current council's actions are illegal.

Ballots will be counted Saturday and the alliance hopes to use the results to pressure the current board to step aside and allow alliance members not running for office to oversee the election.Formed in January, the alliance insists that the current seven-member board's terms expired on Jan. 1, following the four-year terms laid out in the tribal constitution.

An election was to be held in November, but Sinclair disqualified several candidates, including his rival for chairman.

Former tribal vice chairman and now alliance spokesman James Parker Shield said the accusation that the alliance stole tribal documents is a smokescreen to disguise Sinclair's illegal attempts to maintain power.

"It almost sounds like the ranting of a madman," Shield said. "He doesn't want a tribal government elected by the people."

He added the alliance created its own database by asking people that attended three group meetings to send the names and addresses of relatives who are Little Shell tribal members.

Sinclair said the tribe will have a belated election on May 9 with the nomination deadline of the end of March.

The alliance has a similar timeline for how long it would take to elect new leaders, but believes someone other than Sinclair needs to run the election.

"You can't be the election judge and a tribal candidate," Shield said. "We have to wake people up to what's going on — that their tribal government is being hijacked by a dictator."

Because the tribe is not federally recognized, no court has authority to resolve the issue between the rival factions. The battle has also mired progress toward getting federally recognized.



March 6, 2009

Group gathers to celebrate 10-year anniversary of bill that renamed sites

From the Great Falls Tribune.

By MOLLY PRIDDY
For the Great Falls Tribune

HELENA — A large crowd gathered in the Capitol on Thursday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the law that removed the word "squaw" from the names of many Montana land features.

State Sen. Carol Juneau, D-Browning, was touted as the driving force behind the legislation by every speaker at the "Old Places — New Names" ceremony.

"It's been a wonderful, wonderful effort to make Montana a better place to live for our citizens by taking this ugly word off our beautiful mountains and streams," Juneau said.

Some of the renamed formations included Ch-paa-qn (Shining Peak) near Missoula, formerly called Squaw Peak; Stands Alone Woman Peak near Glacier, formerly called The Old Squaw; and Too-nah-hin Creek in Cascade County, formerly called Squaw Creek.

After House Bill 412 passed in 1999, it was discovered that 76 features needed name changes.

School children, county commissioners and tribal leaders helped locate landmarks that needed to be renamed, then suggested new names. Even now, some of the 76 new names have yet to be finalized, Juneau said.

One of the first changes was Squaw Gulch near Helena. It is now called Wakina Sky Gulch, a name suggested by students at Wakina Sky Learning Center in Helena.

Juneau said the changes were necessary because of the matriarchal nature of many American-Indian cultures. She illustrated that importance through a Cheyenne proverb: "A nation is not conquered until the heart of its women is on the ground. Then it is done, no matter how brave its warriors or how strong their weapons."

The ceremony at the Capitol began with the lighting of tobacco and a Cree prayer from Henry Anderson, a Little Shell elder. Jennifer Perez Cole, the state coordinator of Indian Affairs, also welcomed visitors to the event.

In her speech, Juneau said the achievements of the 1999 HB412 Committee were especially honorable because everyone worked on a volunteer basis.

"This bill passed without a budget," Juneau said. "They wanted to make Montana a better place to live."

Other members of the 1999 committee, including current Senate Minority Leader Carol Williams and Rep. Diane Sands, both Missoula Democrats, spoke about their experiences.

Williams teared up as she spoke about the committee's efforts over the past decade. She said she hoped a landmark will be named after Juneau in the future.

Sands also became emotional at the lectern when she spoke about the accomplishments made under the law, noting the importance names carry.

"Of all the bills and issues I've worked on, this one means the most to me," she said. "Words do have meaning and words have power."

During the event Sands and Williams presented Juneau with a wool Pendleton blanket and the Soldier Gulch Drum Group played several traditional songs, including a women's honor song, as the lawmakers passed out braids made from sweetgrass to the original committee members.

Rep. Carolyn Pease-Lopez, D-Crow Agency, who delivered the event's closing prayer, said she was thankful for the committee's efforts.

"Words are containers, and they can release good or bad," Pease-Lopez said. "Today is a good day to be an Indian woman."



March 3, 2009

Little Shell Chippewa Alliance make copies of Referendum and cover letter available to the Public

From the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance website.

By Robert Rudeseal
LittleShellTribe.com Webmaster




The Little Shell Chippewa Alliance has updated their website and has made available to Enrolled Tribal Members copies of the Referendum and the cover letter accompanying it. You can download, read, and print the documents for your own use or if you have family members who are enrolled in the tribe and need a copy and want to vote, they are encourged to do so.


Cover Letter that Accompanied the Referendum Ballot


The Referendum Ballot Itself!

Return the Signed ballot to:

Little Shell Chippewa Alliance
ATTN: Referendum
PO Box 1498
Great Falls, MT 59403

You can visit the Alliance's website for more information and updates.

You can contact the Alliance through email at: Contact@LittleShellChippewaAlliance.org

The Little Shell Chippewa Alliance are Enrolled Tribal members of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana. They are just like YOU. They are former Tribal Chairmen, Council Members, Elders, and just plain enrolled worker bees. They are all volunteers who want to see our tribe succeed, to regain our democracy from self-proclaimed tyrants of the tribe who call us "Crackpots" for opposing their views, who cancel elections, and who suspend our Laws and Constitution just so they can stay in power. The Tribal Members of the Alliance wants to return our stolen Constitution and Laws back from the clutches of Tyrants and return it to the feathered nest of the Little Shell People.



March 3, 2009

Little Shell group seeks new election

From the Great Falls Tribune.

By ERIC NEWHOUSE
Tribune Projects Editor

Members of the Little Shell Tribal Council and the newly formed Little Shell Chippewa Alliance appear to be pushing for head-to-head elections in May.

The alliance mailed out 3,000 referendum ballots to tribal members on Monday, asking them to answer two questions:

Whether members agreed there is currently no tribal government since no elections have been held to replace council members, whose terms of office expired on Jan. 1;

Whether the alliance should conduct an election to replace members of the tribal council by May 31.

The alliance hopes to have ballots mailed back by March 14, said James Parker Shield, a former vice chairman of the tribe. They'll be counted March 21.

"If the responses for both questions come back as no, our work is done — the people have spoken," Shield said Monday. "But if the responses are yes, we'll go ahead with a new election. We're hoping that the responses will be overwhelming enough to give us a sense of the popular sentiment."

Meanwhile, tribal Chairman John Sinclair said the council had decided on a belated election.

"The constitution calls for four-year terms, but due to circumstances, the council was forced to extend them," he said Monday. "At our last council meeting last Saturday, we set a date for a new election on May 9 and agreed to re-open the nomination process through March."

Sinclair said the alliance is being driven by tribal members who were removed as tribal council nominees last October for undisclosed violations of tribal regulations. But he added that there is no legal recourse the tribe can take to stop them from having an election.



Webmaster Note: Sinclair alleges that the alliance is disgruntled tribal members, that is not true, The Alliance are Enrolled Tribal Members who do not want our tribe to be destroyed by a self-serving member who relishes stepping on the Civil and Constitutional Rights of other fellow Tribal Members. The Alliance was authorized by a Council of Tribal Elders to hold constitutional Elections, the same Elections that Sinclair opposes. The Alliance's ONLY duty authorized by the Elders Council is to hold elections. The Alliance, on its own, in accordance with the Tribal Constitution, decided to hold a referendum of the Tribal Members to ask what THEY want. A tribe run by a Tyrant, or a Tribe run by the people. If the Tribal Members approve and Authorize the Alliance to hold an election, then a new Legal and Constitutional Government is in place that was voted by the TRIBAL MEMBERS and not a handful of Sinclair Loyalist. The Alliance, by order of the People, MUST then Disband.

Mr. Sinclair must answer for and will be held accountable to the Little Shell Tribal People. It does not matter if we are recognized or not, violating our constitutional and civil rights by canceling our constitutional elections and not allowing tribal members to run against him, because he is afraid he will lose the election, is a monstrous act that he must atone for and be held accountable for.



February 26, 2009

Native American board meets to discuss top health problems

From the Great Falls Tribune.

Members of Great Falls' Native American community detailed the health problems tormenting their people Wednesday night at the Great Falls Housing Authority.

Community members met with Benefis Health System's Native American Advisory Board to rank the top health problems for Native Americans in Great Falls, including Little Shell Chippewa tribal members.

The information will be used as the basis for several National Institutes of Health grants that Benefis officials are applying for.

The hope is that the grants will provide the funding required to combat the health problems that need the most urgent attention. Officials said the grants require community participation from the conception of the program to the communication of its results.

In September, Benefis created a new strategic development and tribal programs division to coordinate and expand its tribal outreach efforts.

"Benefis is serious about doing something about Native American health," said Darryl Gray, meeting moderator and advisory board member.

At the top of most attendees' lists was diabetes, but most pointed out the need to also address other concerns, such as eye diseases and a lack of affordable dental care in Great Falls.

"I have a lot of relatives with no teeth in their head," said attendee John Gilbert.

Cissy Worth, a tribal communications staffer with Benefis' tribal programs, said mental health issues, including drug and alcohol abuse and suicide, are huge issues in most Native American communities. She said mental health issues directly resulted in the suicide of her 33-year-old brother and can lead to other chronic diseases.

Among the group of 16, the top five health concerns for Native Americans in Great Falls were diabetes, dental care, cancer, mental health and heart disease.

A second meeting has been tentatively scheduled for two weeks at the housing authority, Gray said. Similar meetings have already been held on the Fort Belknap and Blackfeet Indian reservations, with meetings set to be held on the Fort Peck and Rocky Boy's reservations.

"I think this is a wonderful deal," Gilbert said.



February 24, 2009

Benefis Health System Native American Advisory Board meeting to discuss Native American health issues

From the Great Falls Tribune.

The Benefis Health System Native American Advisory Board will meet Wednesday to gather input on the top health concerns facing Native Americans. The board is working to identify and prioritize the top five illnesses affecting tribal communities, including Little Shell Chippewa living in Great Falls.

The information from members of the community will be used to apply for a grant through the National Institutes of Health to address the problems identified in the public meeting process.

In September, Benefis Health System created a new Strategic Development and Tribal Programs Division to coordinate and expand its tribal outreach efforts. The grant project, which was developed at the request of tribal leaders, is among several Native American outreach initiatives launched by the new board.

***Webmaster Note: The meeging will be held at the Great Falls Housing Authority Community Center (1500 Chowen Springs Loop) at 6pm to 8pm wednesday, February 25, 2009. ALL Little Shell Tribal Members are encouraged to attend so our voice will be heard!



February 13, 2009

Interior head says he'll review tribal recognition process because of plight of Little Shell Tribal Members

From the Great Falls Tribune.

By LEDYARD KING
Great Falls Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Newly installed Interior Secretary Ken Salazar pledged Thursday to examine the federal process for recognizing Indian tribes after hearing about the decades-long struggle of Montana's Little Shell Chippewa.

At a hearing of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., criticized the federal agency for constantly delaying a decision and asked Salazar if he could help. The tribe — with about 4,300 members, who mostly live in the Great Falls area — has sought recognition since 1978, Tester said.

"I'd like to see the process work," Tester told Salazar. "I don't really want to see Congress have to intervene for recognition of tribes, but the truth is it should not take 31 years for a tribe to get recognition."

Salazar agreed that three decades is "too long."

"There is no reason why we should have a process that essentially ends in an endless road year after year after year," he said. "We will take a look at the process and see if there are ways we can improve upon it."

Little Shell tribal Chairman John Sinclair said Thursday that he has not had a chance to become familiar with Salazar and his positions, but from what he has heard he believes the new secretary will help the tribe.

"From what I have heard, (he) should be good for the Little Shell," Sinclair said.

He added that he has been in touch with Tester's office regarding the tribe's recognition application and wasn't surprised Tester raised the issue during the hearing.

"Jon Tester is a very good friend of the Little Shell," Sinclair said. "Jon has gone the extra mile for us and we really appreciate his help."

The discussion on the Little Shell's plight was one exchange during an hour-long, friendly session in which Salazar pledged to improve rocky federal relations with Native Americans. Salazar said one of his first priorities would be naming an assistant secretary of Indian Affairs, a job that was vacant during most of President George W. Bush's second term.

"We have to look at what we inherited and try to make changes to make it work better," Salazar said after senators criticized the agency for dragging its feet on water settlements and oil-drilling permits. "Without an assistant secretary of Indian Affairs in place three of the last four years, these issues have simply not been addressed."

It was the first hearing for Salazar, a former senator from Colorado, since the Senate confirmed him last month to run the 67,000-employee agency that oversees federal lands.

During the hearing, Salazar spotlighted four areas where the Obama administration wants to target resources: energy development, education, public safety and economic development.

Senators also expressed their concerns. Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., called the lack of adequate health care in Indian Country "scandalous," and Vice Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said law enforcement on reservations is woefully underfunded.

The Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming is nearly the size of Connecticut, yet crime victims wait up to a day for assistance because only two police officers typically are on patrol, Barrasso said.

"Non-Indian communities would not tolerate such a low level of protection," he told Salazar.

The National Congress of American Indians is asking for billions of dollars in the federal budget, which is expected to be released later this month, including an increase of $120 million to fix dilapidated schools, a $908 million increase in health care funding and $200 million in loans to help finance energy projects.

Salazar made no firm commitments Thursday, but he assured senators he wants to extend a hand to Native Americans.

"There's lots of work to be done," he said. "We all know that you can't wave a magic wand and all of a sudden the issues will be resolved. It's going to take a steady hand and a long-term sustainable commitment to address these issues."



February 5, 2009

Little Shell Elders Council calls for Tribal Elections

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
JOHN GILBERT (PHONE 406-268-8080)
ROGER SALOIS (PHONE 406-727-0418)

The Little Shell Chippewa Elders Council met in Great Falls on Saturday, January 31st and voted to authorize the newly formed Little Shell Chippewa Alliance to schedule and conduct Tribal Council elections immediately.

Roger Salois, a former Tribal Councilman and head of the Elders Council said, “the past Tribal Council’s term of office expired in January in accordance with Article I, Section IV, of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe’s Constitution.

“Furthermore”, added Salois, “the Elders Council authorized the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance to schedule and conduct the election immediately”.

“The Little Shell Chippewa Alliance is a “grass-roots effort by members from across the state who, in response to our governmental crisis, met in Great Falls on January 24 and again on January 31st, to return our government to its tribal members,” said Roger Salois.

John Gilbert, former Tribal Chairman was chosen to be Chairman of the Little Shell Chippewa Alliance at the January 31st meeting.

Tribal members requesting election ballots are asked to write to the Little Shell Chippewa Election Committee, PO Box 1498, Great Falls, MT 59403

END RELEASE

Webmaster Note: Article I, Section IV of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribal Constitution states: "Elections shall be held every two years, for each Council member, every four (4) years for the executive officers.". The term-limits of the council members and executive board ended at the end of December 2008, Tribal members in addition to the Elder's Council do not Recognize a council that is trying to stay in office beyond their constitutional Term-Limits. This means that John Sinclair is NO LONGER the Legal and Constitutional President (chairman) of the Executive board. John Sinclair unconstitutionally cancelled the Tribal elections in october 2008. He has further claimed, in a public venue, that he will suspend the tribal constitution in order to remain in office beyond constitutional limits and called tribal members in opposition to his actions "Crackpots". (Comments took place at the 'Information Meeting' at HDRC in Havre, MT on December 6, 2008 called by John Sinclair. and attended by about 25 tribal members). Tribal Members want and demand a legal and constitutional government for their Tribal Leadership and have created a grass roots organization to hold a referendum to do as the Elder's Council authorized.



February 4, 2009

Montana Lawmakers discuss jobs, economy for tribal nations at Indian caucus

From the Great Falls Tribune.

JOHN S. ADAMS
Tribune Capitol Bureau

HELENA — Economic recovery and jobs creation top the Montana American Indian Caucus' legislative agenda, Indian lawmakers said at a news conference at the Capitol on Tuesday.

Nine Indian legislators plus Sen. Joe Tropila, D-Great Falls, represent all eight of Montana's tribal nations, including the Little Shell.

"Each member of our caucus is working hard to create policy and to provide resources to help our respective communities' progress," said Sen. Carol Juneau, D-Browning. "We represent the communities of Montana with the highest unemployment rates, the poorest educational achievement, and many issues that need the attention of Montana. We are being asked to tighten our belts, but many families that we represent have tightened their belts as far as they will go."

Rep. Tony Belcourt, D-Box Elder, said members of Montana's tribal nations are an important part of Montana and should not be overlooked when state and federal governments develop policies aimed at improving jobs and the economy.

"In 2007, there was a study done by the State Tribal Economic Development Commission, and it indicated that a billion dollars was invested into the state of Montana from the seven reservations, including the Little Shell," Belcourt said. "Tribes are a big contributor to the state of Montana."

Belcourt said tribes should stand to benefit from President Barack Obama's proposed economic stimulus plan.

"Tribes have shovel-ready projects. We have had shovel-ready projects for probably 20 years that have been forgotten about," Belcourt said. "So it is nice to see they are actually talking about economic stimulus that is going to involve tribal governments."

Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, said the Indian caucus has a host of bills it hopes will improve the quality of life for tribal members, but he said those bills will benefit all Montanans.

"Even though we do reside on reservations, we are citizens of this state and there are a lot of issues that come to the table in areas of health care and areas of Medicaid and mental health system that not only affect us, but affect Montanans as a whole," Windy Boy said. "I think that as a lot of these CHIP proposals and ... health care proposals come forth in the Legislature, this isn't an Indian issue, this isn't a non-Indian issue, this is a Montana issue."

House Speaker Bob Bergren, D-Havre, said after the news conference that it is important for Montana's Indian lawmakers to stand together to highlight the issues facing the reservations. He added that their work will benefit Montanans on and off the reservations.

He highlighted Belcourt's bill to fund sawfly research as one example.

"Sawflies are costing us tens and tens of millions of dollars on and off reservation," Bergren said.



January 29, 2009

Little Shell Recognition delay confirmed to be by Requested by BIA and not Tribe

We at the LittleShellTribe.com website contacted the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Acknowledgement and confirmed that the Decision by the bureau was extended at the request of the Bureau of Indian affairs and was not by the Tribe. The Bureau had recently testified before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee that they were not the "Ones" who requested delays in the Recognition for the past 8 years, but said the delays were at the request of the Tribal Chairman during that time. The Bureau would not give details on the exact reasons for the delay, but did say that they currently have an Assistant Secretary running the Bureau but wanted an Appointed and Confirmed Secretary before any long-standing decisions were made and signed off on. The Extension adds 6 months to the waiting for Federal Acknowledgement of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana. The New Date of Decision is projected to be July 28, 2009.



January 28, 2009

Little Shell Recognition decision delayed another 6 months

From the Great Falls Tribune.

By ERIC NEWHOUSE
Tribune Projects Editor

Federal recognition would allow the tribe to apply for federal health, education and housing assistance and even set up its own tribal headquarters.

"They've delayed it another six months," tribal Chairman John Sinclair of Havre said Tuesday. "And they didn't give us any reason. According to their regulations, they don't have to explain it."

Officials with the Interior Department's Office of Federal Acknowledgment said in October that a decision on recognizing the landless tribe primarily based in Great Falls would come by today. It has since pushed that date back to July 29, Sinclair said.

Frustrated by the lack of federal action four years ago, U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., sponsored legislation that would have bypassed the Interior Department and granted the tribe federal recognition. It went nowhere at the time.

"But Senator (Byron) Dorgan (D-N.D.) promised me that if we didn't get a decision from the federal government by Jan. 28, he would let that legislation go through," Sinclair said. "I hope it isn't just hot air."

Rehberg said Tuesday he planned to help the tribe get recognized.

"A six-month extension from the Interior Department might not seem like a big deal, but justice delayed is justice denied," he said. "I'll continue to fight to get the Little Shell Tribe the federal recognition they need and deserve."

The Little Shell Tribe lost federal recognition and was evicted from a reservation in North Dakota in 1892 after its chief refused to sign a deal to sell some of the tribe's land to the federal government, which wanted it for homesteaders.

Many of the tribe's almost 4,000 members eventually settled in and around Great Falls. The group has fought to regain federal recognition as an authentic, self-governing tribe ever since.

Nine years ago, federal officials granted the Little Shell Tribe preliminary recognition, but said it wanted to look further into the tribe's historical and cultural continuity. There's been no federal action on the matter since that time.



January 11, 2009

11th American Indian Inaugural Ball events

Bigback Silkscreening just recently received the honor of an invitation to attend and take part in the 11th Annual American Indian Inaugural events from The American Indian Society of D.C., which will be held the week of January 19th, 2009; every four years following. We are the only Native American Business from Montana invited to participate. Our 100% Native American family owned and operated business represents two of our tribes in the State of Montana, the Northern Cheyenne and Little Shell Chippewa Tribe of Montana. We are a Made in Montana business. Our business is registered with Made in Montana, Indian Made, and Members of Montana Indian Business Alliance along with a various other accreditations (please see below). We have been at the forefront of the Montana Native American Business in Montana with a strong representation and advocates for our people.

We accept this honor with extreme excitement and anticipation. We are working hard to prepare for this event, however, find our selves short funded and are looking to our fellow tribes to encourage and invite your participation through sponsorship of our invitation. We are inquiring with great anticipation of you joining us in tribes supporting tribes in a show of unity amongst our nations. You will be listed as such through our promotional commemorative t-shirt (which is currently available and will be on hand during the events) crediting the contributions made to our invitation along with being listed as funding agents in all public announcements, news releases, publications, or informational concerns, logos or identification info provided will be utilitzed in the manners indicated. A messge received from the President of The AISW of Washington D.C. informed us that "The 2009 American Indian Inaugural Ball brings together and celebrates Native Leaders, organizations, artists, musicians, and professionals from across the country. This year we will award our second "Lifetime Achievement Award" to a member of the Indian community to honor their significant legacy and contributions".

We see this opportunity as a life time honor and appreciate the possibility of representing our Tribes, our State and our Nations. We received recognition and were awarded the Montana Indian Equity Fund through the Entrepreneur Montana program in 2007. We have been conducting business for 7 years in Montana and five prior years in the State of Washington and Oregon with a total of 12 years on our powwow highway. We were chosen based on the quality of our products, work and standing in our Indian community.

I am including a budget and schedule of events for review in consideration of our quest for sponsorship and representation. Thank you for your interest and consideration. We are most thankful for all consideration and assistance in helping us to realize this great honor extended to us in welcoming in our 2009 President Elect Obama and staff.

Anticipated Budget:

Expenses

 

 

 

Fees/License

*Gasoline

Accommodations

**Meals/Misc

$500.00

$361.10

$499.00

$125.00

1

2.5

4

4

$500.00

$902.75

$1,996.00

$500.00


TOTAL: $3,898.75

* Gasoline according to AAA gas/trip calculator
**Meals/Misc. Include Tolls &/or Parking Fees, Daily Meals
Accommodations according to event group rates

All Inaugural Week Events below are held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA 22202, unless otherwise stated:

Monday, January 19, 2008

9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.


Tribal Strategy Session on the Next Congress & New Administration

Hyatt Regency Crystal City

1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

NCAI and NIGA board meetings

Hyatt Regency Crystal City

11:00 a.m. – Midnight  

Inaugural Ball Pow Wow

Hyatt Regency Crystal City



Tuesday, January 20, 2008

8:00 p.m.


American Indian Inaugural Ball

Hyatt Regency Crystal City



Wednesday, January 21, 2008

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.


American Indian Society of DC Inaugural Brunch

Hyatt Regency Crystal City

All Day

Time for personal meetings with Congressional Delegations

Capitol Hill




Thursday, January 22, 2008

Noon


NCAI State of Indian Nations Address

National Museum of the American Indian, 4th Street and Independence Ave. SW



Best of All,
Robert, Michele and Cheyenne Bigback
Butte, Mt 59701
406-782-2713 406-565-9221
A.I.C.U. POWWOW
Email AICU Powwow
Email BigBacks Silk-Screening
http://www.bigbacksilkscreening.com
BigBacks Silk-Screening Online Store
Mapquest Location of Storefront

Visit Robert, Michele & Cheyenne at our: Website
Locally Owned & Operated CCR Registered, GSA Vendor SBA, MBE, DBE Certified, HUB Zoned 100% Native American Business
Custom Orders Stock Orders Retail, Wholesale Teams, Schools, Groups,Organizations

January 10, 2009

OPINION: Greetings from Louella Fredricksen

The Holidays are over and I hope everyone had a great time with family & friends.

For the Little Shell members, there is more waiting, waiting and waiting. Our elections should have been held and the Council swearing in ceremony in another week.

I do not know what this year will bring for our members, but I do hope it is all good.

The final determination on our Federal Recognition should be January 28, 2009. I have a feeling that this is the year it will happen for us and the ruling will be in our favor. Keep a positive outlook and say a lot of prayers.

I hope we can get back to our Elections, which are our rights as Little Shell members. Keep watching the newspapers and websites for any new developments.

Louella Fredricksen
Candidate for Tribal Council



January 3, 2009

Identities and land inextricably bound

From the Billings Gazette for the Missoulian

By ROB CHANEY
Missoulian

"We're a people of a place."

To understand Indians, you must understand land, says Iris Pretty Paint. For 30 years, she has been instructing teachers throughout Montana on how to grasp that idea. The effort has taken her from elementary school classrooms to the tribal nations' seven colleges and the state's University System.

"What that means is our land is the bond that ties us to our philosophy," Pretty Paint said. "It's what sustains our teachings and our way of life, our kinship systems. The land is what helps us interpret our identity. It serves as the central force of our value system, our language, our stories, how we see the world, our sacred sites, what they communicate to us, our creation stories. We come from that land."

That's why large chunks of the Montana Tribal History Project explore how each reservation's people collided with government land rules. To mainstream readers, it seems like getting stuck in the "begats" of the Bible, the "Abraham begat Isaac" genealogical lists in many Old Testament books.

On the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, there's the saga of Rabbit Town. The families there homesteaded ranches outside the reservation before 1900, just as white settlers were homesteading inside the reservation.

In an effort to prevent white-Indian disputes, the reservation agent arranged to buy out both groups and move the Cheyenne families onto the reservation and the white familes off.

Bureau of Indian Affairs records show a $90,000 allocation to buy the white reservation lands and $1,000 to pay for the Indian-held homesteads outside the reservation. And the late-coming Cheyenne families were not eligible for food rations or other assistance from the reservation.

Their community became known as Rabbit Town. It exists to this day along the Tongue River, according to the "We, The Northern Cheyenne People" tribal history. The book notes that they keep separate from the rest of the reservation community, living like rabbits that "stay within their homes and only come out when something is happening."

Indian land struggles also continue today. The Little Shell Band of the Chippewa, a tribe of more than 4,000 with offices in Great Falls, has sought federal recognition for more than a century. The state recognizes the Little Shell as a tribe, and the U.S. Interior Department gave it preliminary recognition in 2000. Members of Montana's congressional delegation have pushed to speed the process for full recognition.

But the Little Shell people remain landless. They didn't even get in the initial Montana Tribal History Project funding. That got fixed last year, when the Legislature made a new allocation for Little Shell researchers to begin their own history.



December 24, 2008

Moving in unexpected ways

From the Helena Independant Record

By ROB CHANEY
Missoulian

ROCKY BOY — About the only thing Ken Morsette couldn’t print in the Stone Child College’s print shop is the college’s own tribal history book.

Not for lack of equipment. There are new machines to print artworks with 200-year archival ink, machines to make banners and T-shirts, and binders to enclose catalogs and magazines as well as copying presses. An established Cree Indian artist, Morsette knows the demands of the printing world.

“Word’s getting out of what we’re capable of doing here,” he said. “There are some UM (University of Montana) professors who are looking to outsource printing work here. Now we’re looking at contracts where we’ll need a few more bodies to come in and help.”

Stone Child is another translation of the Chippewa Indian leader who gave Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation its name. The place literally leaps out of the prairie, a volcanic extrusion of timbered mountains 140 miles from the Rocky Mountain Front. It lies between the relatively major cities of Great Falls and Havre, on a road where it’s common to pass more antelope than cars.

The Chippewa and Cree tribal members who live there belong to what used to be two of the largest Indian nations on the continent. How they wound up on Montana’s smallest reservation, and how one band known as the Little Shell Chippewa never got a homeland at all, highlight a big reason for compiling the tribal histories.

Two years ago, Stone Child College and the state’s six other tribal colleges took on the Montana Tribal History Project. Their mission was to provide the backbone material in Montana’s Indian Education for All program a constitutionally mandated duty the state’s schools had ignored for almost four decades.

But as anyone who’s looked up their family tree knows, history projects have a tendency to change lives. In the tribal colleges’ case, the Montana Tribal History Project was like a membership to an academic health club. They came away with new strength and more flexibility to serve their people.

Morsette has draft pages of “The History of the Chippewa Cree of Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation” stored in his computers, although publication stalled for months in disputes among tribal leaders. The hardware Stone Child College bought with its history project funding is already making an impact.

“The council is realizing how important education is,” Morsette said. “We create all these jobs.”

Surprise bonus

Across Montana, the Tribal History Project has produced similar unintended benefits for the colleges that undertook it. At Fort Belknap Community College, students are learning video production with the cameras and editing programs purchased for producing elder interviews.

At Fort Peck Community College in Poplar, researching the tribal government helped topple a controversial council chairman and spark the first redrafting of the reservation constitution in almost 50 years.

“This has been a big boost for the pride of our college and the pride of our people,” Chief Dull Knife College President Richard Little Bear of Lame Deer told state legislators last summer in Helena. “It was the first time many of us had done anything like this. We learned how to do research at various museums, and developed writing skills for people who were afraid to write. We learned to edit books. Community colleges often do not have enough personnel to do everything. We ended up doing a quality job in the very short time we had.”

There was also an air of challenge. As Fort Peck Community College President Jim Shanley put it, “People put us in positions where we’re going to fail, and then say: ‘See, you people can’t handle those things.’ We weren’t going to let that happen.”

Far-flung project

Montana’s seven tribal community colleges are spread around the rim of the state. To reach them all requires a journey of nearly 1,300 miles. Shanley skipped last summer’s legislative update on the tribal histories where Little Bear spoke. Leaving his office in Poplar for a two-hour meeting at the Helena Capitol typically involves a three-day trip. By air, it’s the same distance as traveling from Boston to Washington, D.C.

The colleges serve anyone wishing to attend, but they live for the more than a dozen American Indian tribes that call Montana home. Indians make up Montana’s largest racial minority, about 66,000 of the state’s 1 million residents.

At 6 percent of the total, they’re also Montana’s only noticable minority. And they’re hard to notice, because more than two-thirds of them live on those isolated homelands.

Giving reservation communities a sense of forward motion is a big part of Margarett Campbell’s job at Fort Peck. One Thursday afternoon last October, the college’s vice president drove 56 miles from the campus in Poplar to pick up students in Culbertson and Brockton so they could see a truck show in Wolf Point, 20 miles in the opposite direction. She often mounts “search-and-rescue” trips to find absent students and cajole them back to class.

Campbell also serves in the state House of Representatives, where she will be House Democratic floor leader in the 2009 session. She’s one of seven tribal members in the Legislature.

“Five of those seven Indian legislators had close connections with their local tribal colleges,” Campbell said. “They lobbied that those were the intellectual centers of each tribal community. That set in motion the decision to have the colleges handle the job.”

College with many hats

Those community colleges already have significant jobs. Serving between 200 and 1,000 students, each provides a mix of academic muscle and social glue. Blackfeet Community College historian and former president Carol Murray put it simply: “Our institution is open the most hours and longest hours of any institution on the reservation.”

Like community colleges throughout the nation, Montana’s tribal colleges specialize in rapid response to student needs. When the Wyoming oil fields needed truck drivers, Little Bighorn College — located 44 miles from the Wyoming border — expanded its commercial driver’s license training.

The colleges also serve as a safety net for those seeking four-year degrees.

“There’s a lot of culture shock,” said Ed Stamper, Stone Child’s director of foundations and research. “These kids have never been off the reservation. No one’s there to tell them what to do. So they end up back here finding some success and then going on to achievement. We train people to get four-year degrees. They take their first two years at Stone Child as a block and then enter the university as a junior.”

Many see their community college as a community center. They may take or teach the occasional class, work on its staff or use the campus as a meeting place on reservations that often have no restaurant or hotel. Most campuses have a mix of Native and mainstream instructors and professors, making them one of the few multicultural places on otherwise racially isolated reservations.

And the colleges are a financial center. Separate from the tribal governments, they have their own sources of federal dollars from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, Homeland Security Administration, Department of the Interior and Department of Education.

“This is the one place on many reservations for real free thought,” said Salish Kootenai College President Joe McDonald. “It’s not under threat from the tribal council or chair. It’s a place where people can take a breath.”

Making waves

Tribal colleges and tribal governments typically keep an arm’s-length relationship. The Tribal History Project got mixed receptions on different reservations. Gros Ventre and Assiniboine tribal council members participated in Fort Belknap Community College tribal studies professor Sean Chandler’s video interviews.

Rocky Boy’s leaders created three unrelated “cultural committees,” each believing it had editorial control of the Stone Child College history book.

At Fort Peck, researching tribal history at the college put a spotlight on the reservation council actions.

The college campus in Poplar appears to cover about two city blocks. In fact, it owns dozens of buildings scattered in this community of roughly 1,000 people. On a tour of his domain, Shanley walks in a short-stride shuffle that covers a surprising amount of ground in hurry.

He pops into a former house that’s been turned into a hazardous materials disposal classroom. In a warehouse on the edge of Poplar, he opens a door to reveal a nearly finished medical office. When Fort Peck Indian Reservation’s health center needed a new pharmacy building, Fort Peck Community College carpentry students built it as a class project inside their warehouse.

Shanley has led Fort Peck Community College for a quarter-century. The last five of those years have been politically tumultuous, with tribal council Chairman John Morales elected and removed from office twice. It was also the time when college historians were interviewing people all over the reservation about their experience with tribal government, and what they remembered about the old constitution’s drafting in 1960.

“He had factionalized the government,” Shanley recalled of Morales’ administration. “He was advocating for change, but he was very authoritarian. He thought the tribal chairman should have complete authority.

“Opposition to him helped push the constitutional convention, and that sprang out of the history project. This is one of the first democratic machinations that has occurred on the Fort Peck Reservation.”

Shanley led the way into the tribal government office. The council chamber was dark but full of people, as an out-of-state energy company representative displayed a PowerPoint map of the reservation’s potential oil drilling sites.

“Prior to 10 years ago, you could ask people on the street and they’d say, ‘Constitution? We have a constitution?’ ” Shanley said. “Now we have a more educated voting public in terms of how the structure is supposed to work. Now we’re going to have better citizens.”



December 7, 2008

Opinion: HRDC Meeting by Leona Kienenberger

To Members of the Little Shell Tribe:

A Little Shell meeting was held at the HRDC Building in Havre, Montana at 1:00 pm, December 6, 2008. John Sinclair and Alvina Allan were the only two council members present. John informed the members, who were present, the reason for his postponing the election, “for two reasons,” he said: One was because of the disqualification of three candidates, and the second reason “he couldn’t divulge even to the council until after our federal recognition”. He also alluded to the fact that it could take up to four months before any of the members would know what is going on. It was agreed that the three candidates whom the Election Board (which consists of two members) disqualified, would appeal to an unbiased board consisting of seven people. John was hesitant to agree with this, but it was pointed out to him that it would not be fair for the candidates to go before a council whom they were running against. The three disqualified candidates will petition the council for a hearing and hopefully, we can move on and carry out what our Constitution mandates.

Leona Kienenberger

Candidate for Council

December 4, 2008

Tribal Member meetings and gatherings scheduled

There was an ad in the Havre Daily News stating there is a Little Shell Council meeting for Election issues on Saturday Dec. 6 @1 P.M. at HRDC BLDG.

Pass the word, we need a good turnout of our members.

Also there is a scheduled Little Shell Winter Gathering, Saturday, Dec 13th at the Family Living Center, Montana Expo Park, Great Falls MT.

Feast - 5:30 (bring salads & desserts)

50/50 raffle and door prizes

Make your own Xmas ornaments

Tribal merchandise available for purchase

Other activities as confirmed

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CALL THE TRIBAL OFFICE AT 406-452-2892




Headline Archive

TO THE DEFENDERS OF OUR HOMELAND

For centuries and eons past, our warriors have left their lodges to protect our homeland. Whether it is on the Plains of the continent or on foreign lands to prevent our enemies from invading ours. We are currently in a global war to fight terrorism and will soon capture and bring to justice a tyrant who is aiding the terrorists that attacked our homeland. We are proud that some of our Little Shell Warriors are at the fore-front of the fight.

For more info on Chippewa and other Tribal members serving in our Armed Forces,
See our Little Shell Community page.

Not happy with the way the 2004 Tribal Election was handled?
Sign our Petition and ask the Elders of our Tribe to setup a Tribal Court to investigate!

2004 Little Shell Tribe Citizen Petition Click Here!

Little Shell2004 Election question

The Little Shell Tribe held it's Election for Tribal Council Executive positions for 2004. There were several Problems that included delays in sending out Absentee Ballots and problems with non-opening of polling place in Washington State. Tribal members have put together a Tribal Citizen Petition asking for resolution of the problems in this election and to prevent this from happening again.

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Copy of Letter Sent to Little Shell Tribal Council

February 18, 2004

Little Shell Tribal Council
Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana
Box 1384
1807 3rd St NW
Great Falls, MT 59404

To Little Shell Tribal Council,

Subject: LittleShellTribe.com and LittleShellTribe.org websites

Since the election of the current Tribal Council and the appointment by the council of Mr. John Sinclair to the position of Executive Committee Chairman, Mr. Sinclair has requested several articles and statements by the previous Tribal Council to be removed from the LittleshellTribe.com website (e-mail dated Sept 7, 2003). As these articles and statements were Official statements by the Little Shell Tribal Council and published publicly in the Little Shell Tribal Newsletter and in Local Newspapers I moved these to an archive and deleted some of them acceding to Mr. Sinclair’s request, although I am disturbed by Mr. Sinclair’s assertion that they were, quote, “Inaccurate” as these items were public releases by the Tribal Council and were posted without change. In His request to remove a link to the “Sleeping Buffalo Resort” was not a big deal as Mr. Sinclair asserted that the tribe was no longer in communication with them.

On November 17, 2003, Richard Parenteau, Little Shell tribal member, sent an article that had been published in local newspapers that Mr. Parenteau wanted posted as it contained “some information on some cultural happenings going on here in Great Falls”. After receiving the article and verified it’s authenticity, I posted the article on the website. As it pertained to events happening that upcoming weekend, I sent a copy out to Little Shell Tribal Members on the website’s bulletin board. On December 6, 2003, I received an e-mail from Mr. Sinclair requesting that the article be removed from the website as he disagreed with its content. I sent an e-mail to Mr. Parenteau asking if he agreed to its removal. I never received a reply. I then informed Mr. Sinclair that without Mr. Parenteau’s permission, it could not be removed as that would be censorship by a government entity and that is unacceptable. The LittleShellTribe.com website is not a government website but a tribal member website owned by the tribal members.

On February 20, 2004, I received a letter from Mr. Sinclair that states that since I did not accede to the censorship request by him, he had appointed Mr. Bruce Landrie as tribal “Webmaster” and he will act as the Tribal Government representative for all “Authorized” websites. That Mr. Landrie would act as Censure for any and all websites “Authorized” by the Tribal Council. I requested from Mr. Sinclair a copy of the Tribal Council Resolution that authorized Mr. Sinclair the power to appoint such a tribal censure and authorize the “Editorial Oversight” of all Little Shell Associated websites. The reason being to see if the Council approved of the Donation of the Littleshelltribe.com website and authorized Mr. Sinclair the operation of it. On February 21, 2004, Mr. Sinclair responded with another e-mail that states, quote, “There is no resolution”. Mr. Sinclair stated that this issue was “not important to the Council as a group” even though the donation Letter for the LittleShellTribe.com website specifically requests approval by the Little Shell Tribal Council as they are the representatives of the members of the tribe to the government of the tribe. Since then, Mr. Landrie (Executive Committee President Surrogate) has on numerous occasions demanded control of the website and has demanded the Passwords and Login ID’s to the accounts. This is without authorization of the council and is illegal as the website is not owned by the Tribal Government but by a private entity. The Executive Committee President and any surrogate to act in his name do not have powers of “Eminent Domain” (US Federal Law) and cannot confiscate private property for government use.

As it is painfully obvious that the Executive Committee President does not respect the Constitutional rights of members to freedom of speech (as guaranteed in the Little Shell Tribal Constitution and the US Constitution), and as the Tribal Council has not acted to accept the donation nor does the Executive Committee President or his surrogate respect the Constitutional rights of Individual members and of the laws of the United States dealing with Private Property, I have no choice but to withdraw the offer of donation to the Little Shell Tribal Council of the LittleShellTribe.com and LittleShellTribe.org websites. In the November 2002 letter from the Little Shell Tribal Council, it is stated that the donation was appreciated and they looked forward to working with me on its content. I intend to abide by that agreement and will hold the websites in trust for the sole use of Little Shell Tribal Members.

Since February 18, 2004, I have taken the website offline. Since then, I have received numerous e-mails requesting its return by Little Shell Tribal Members and Students requesting the information it contained be made available. I will accede to these requests by tribal members and return the site back on-line for their use. As I feel that the government of the Little Shell Tribe has a right to have its voice heard, I encourage the Council to continue to forward information for posting on the Website that may be helpful to the Members of the Little Shell Tribe. I will take action to ensure that council postings and member postings are noted so as to ensure that there is no confusion on the originator of the posting. I will entertain no further requests by Mr. Sinclair to censor member postings. If Mr. Sinclair disagrees with a posting by a tribal member, he is more then welcome to write a rebuttal that will be posted on the website. In addition, I will no longer entertain any attempt by Mr. Landrie to control the content of the LittleShellTribe.com and LittleShellTribe.org. I will only accept suggestions for content by the Tribal Government supplied to me from the Tribal Office and Individual Council/Committee members as Individuals.

I also request that the Tribal Council immediately order Mr. Landrie, if he is authorized to act as a Little Shell Tribal Government representative, to “cease and desist” his illegal requests for account information of the privately owned littleshelltribe.com and littleshelltribe.org websites.

Robert Dean Rudeseal


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NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIPTION:
The Little Shell Tribe Newsletter is FREE to all Enrolled Tribal Members. It is published 12 months a year and is supported by particle funding by the Little Shell Tobacco Abuse Prevention Program. To place your name on the list for the newsletter, Click Here to get the Address/phone number to request your name and address be placed on the newsletter subscription list. The Contact is Toni Jo Atchison, Tobacco Abuse Prevention Specialist

Toni Jo Atchison, Little Shell Tobacco Abuse Prevention Specialist Announces Tribal Newsletter is FREE to Tribal Members

By the LittleShellTribe.com Webmaster:

Toni Jo Atchison, Little Shell Tribal Tobacco Abuse Prevention Specialist has announced that the Tribal newsletter is FREE to all Enrolled Tribal Members. Previously, a subscription of $10 was required for the newsletter and was published quartely. The subscription cost covered monies that funded the creation, mailing of the newsletter, along with helping with office expenses. Now, with funding provided in part under a contract with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program, and the Little Shell Tobacco Abuse Prevention Program, the Newsletter will be published 12 months a year. To place your name on the List for the newsletter (if you do not currently receive it), contact Toni Jo at the main office or write a letter requesting your name to be placed on it. Tribal and Non-Tribal members are still welcome and are encourgaged to send donations to the Office to help with tribal expenses.

To view the Little Shell Tribal Tobacco Prevention Program, Click Here

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REQUEST FOR DONATIONS FOR OPERATION FUNDS TO
KEEP OUR OFFICES OPEN


In order for the tribal government to operate and represent the members of the Little Shell Tribe through the Federal Recoginition process and enrollment, there is an immediate need for operating funds for office rent, clerical supplies, mailing, telephone services, and copier payments. Any size donation will help our tribe keep the doors open. Many thanks to the people who have contributed to the LST

Webmaster Note: This website and domain is not paid for by any funds sent to the LST. I pay for this out of my own pocket and have donated it's pages to the cause of the Little Shell Tribal members.

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This Website and Domain is owned and operated by Little Shell Tribal members, It is not operated or controlled by the Government of the Little Shell Tribe. All Rights Reserved. This website is updated and operated by me, Robert Dean Rudeseal. I am an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Montana and a direct descendant of Pierre Berger and Judith Wilkie who brought the Little Shell Tribe permanently to Montana.

All items on this website are posted in accordance to the Fair Use Laws of the United States of America. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works






Visitors Since October 24, 2002