Tribal Issues

Headshots of members of the 2019-2020 Montana State-Tribal Relations Committee
Montana Legislature


The Montana State-Tribal Relations Committee is seeking public comment on nine bill proposals related to runaway youth, motor carrier services, missing persons and federal recognition of the Little Shell Tribe.

A photo of Linda Watson shuffling through Little Shell Tribe enrollment applications.
Kevin Trevellyan / YPR

Roughly six months ago, the federal government officially recognized the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians as a sovereign nation. It was national news then. But what does it mean now for the members and descendants of Little Shell? Nine students from the University of Montana School of Journalism spent a semester reporting on the impact of recognition on what has long been considered Montana’s “landless tribe.” This story is part of the student-produced series, Project Little Shell.

It's February, about two months after the tribe received the federal recognition it had sought for more than 130 years. Linda Watson is shuffling papers at her desk at the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians' headquarters in Great Falls. She's received a lot of phone calls recently.

Little Shell Portraits: Terrie LaRocque

Jul 10, 2020
A photo of Terrie LaRocque
Allison Berrian

After the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians gained federal recognition six months ago, students from the University of Montana School of Journalism talked at length with tribal members about what that means to them. Here, student Allison Berrian produced this interview with Terrie LaRocque, who until recently worked at the Little Shell tribal headquarters.

“I was living up on the Hi line in Chinook for about 20 years. I used to be a semi truck driver, and so, I bought a house and got married and lived up there for a long time. But when I got divorced, I have three brothers that live here in town and they wanted me to move down here. They found a job before I even found a place to live.

A micropscopic image of the novel coronavirus.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Public Domain)

The most recent data analysis this week by Montana’s Department of Health and Human Services revealed more about COVID-19’s impact on Native Americans. 

Little Shell: Three Generations of Enrollment

Jul 1, 2020
Ekoo Beck looks through family photos with her grandma in Browning, Montana, 2020.
Victor Yvellez/Yellowstone Public Radio

After the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians gained federal recognition six months ago, students from the University of Montana School of Journalism talked at length with tribal members about what that means to them.

Nurses administer a nasal swab to test people for the COVID-19 illness at a surveillance testing event in Crow Agency May 27, 2020.
Nicky Ouellet / Yellowstone Public Radio

Last weekend, Montana saw its biggest spike yet in COVID-19 cases. YPR reports how the disease is impacting Native Americans across the state.

The Blackfeet Indian Reservation is now under a mandatory 14-day stay-at-home order after health officials reported the reservation’s first COVID-19 cases. Blackfeet and Glacier County officials identified nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 among residents over the weekend.

Little Shell Portraits: Iko’tsimiskimaki 'Ekoo' Beck

Jun 29, 2020
Iko’tsimiskimaki “Ekoo” Beck
Victor Yvellez/Yellowstone Public Radio

After the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians gained federal recognition six months ago, students from the University of Montana School of Journalism talked at length with tribal members about what that means to them.

In this story, reporter Victor Yvellez spoke with Iko’tsimiskimaki “Ekoo” Beck, who is in the process of disenrolling Blackfeet to join the recently recognized Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians. 

Cletus and Earline Cole hold a picture of their son Steven Bearcrane-Cole with his daughter, Precious. The Cole family has been involved in a decade-long lawsuit against the FBI for what they alledge was a mishandling of their son's death in 2005.
Shane Thomas McMillan / University of Montana School of Journalism’s Native News Project

 

An eleven-year discrimination lawsuit brought by a Native American family against the Federal Bureau of Investigation has reached a settlement agreement.

The settlement agreement releases both the FBI and the family of Steven Bearcrane from any wrongdoing and promises his family a meeting with officials from the FBI and the Department of Justice.

Little Shell Nationhood Passes Six Month Mark

Jun 18, 2020
A photo of the outskirtks of Little Shell of Chippewa Indian Reservation.
University of Montana School of Journalism

Roughly six months ago, the federal government officially recognized the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians as a sovereign nation. It was national news then. But what does it mean now for the members and descendents of Little Shell? Nine students from the University of Montana School of Journalism spent a semester reporting on the impact of recognition on what has long been considered Montana’s “landless tribe.” This story is part of the student produced series, Project Little Shell.

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