Title

The Little Shell Chippewa: Putting a Price Tag on Identity

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Presentation

Abstract

When the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana refused the Turtle Mountain Reservation treaty, the United States government pushed them off their homelands and refused to recognize them as a sovereign nation. They were bounced between reservations and rejected from both Canada and the United States. In 2000, Montana recognized the Little Shell as an indigenous tribe; however, their petition to be recognized by the federal government was denied in 2009. The petition was filed in 1978. Federally recognized tribes receive aid from the U.S. government, meaning the Little Shell do not, but they are still fighting for recognition. They do, however, receive some assistance from the state of Montana. Minimal governmental help forces the tribe to obtain funds from other outlets to pay for tribal employees, tribal events and legal fees for their recognition fight.

There are currently 566 federally recognized tribes in the U.S. and about 254 tribes fighting for recognition (Department of the Interior), proving the struggle isn’t restricted to this tribe. This multimedia and print story will focus on how the Little Shell operate on their limited budget — $22,000 — by running off the donated time of volunteers. Most tribal council members around the country are paid for their duties; however, the Little Shell have only two paid employees (a secretary and tobacco-prevention specialist) and no paid council members. Often members will use wages from additional jobs to supplement their tribal involvement, essentially paying for their cultural identity. Information was gathered through in-person interviews on and off camera, analyzing tribal records and spending entire days experiencing the life of council members, volunteers and paid employees. Still photography also played a role in capturing the experience. The researchers spent a week between Great Falls (tribal headquarters) and the tribal president’s home and office in Billings.

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Apr 12th, 10:20 AM Apr 12th, 10:40 AM

The Little Shell Chippewa: Putting a Price Tag on Identity

UC 333

When the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana refused the Turtle Mountain Reservation treaty, the United States government pushed them off their homelands and refused to recognize them as a sovereign nation. They were bounced between reservations and rejected from both Canada and the United States. In 2000, Montana recognized the Little Shell as an indigenous tribe; however, their petition to be recognized by the federal government was denied in 2009. The petition was filed in 1978. Federally recognized tribes receive aid from the U.S. government, meaning the Little Shell do not, but they are still fighting for recognition. They do, however, receive some assistance from the state of Montana. Minimal governmental help forces the tribe to obtain funds from other outlets to pay for tribal employees, tribal events and legal fees for their recognition fight.

There are currently 566 federally recognized tribes in the U.S. and about 254 tribes fighting for recognition (Department of the Interior), proving the struggle isn’t restricted to this tribe. This multimedia and print story will focus on how the Little Shell operate on their limited budget — $22,000 — by running off the donated time of volunteers. Most tribal council members around the country are paid for their duties; however, the Little Shell have only two paid employees (a secretary and tobacco-prevention specialist) and no paid council members. Often members will use wages from additional jobs to supplement their tribal involvement, essentially paying for their cultural identity. Information was gathered through in-person interviews on and off camera, analyzing tribal records and spending entire days experiencing the life of council members, volunteers and paid employees. Still photography also played a role in capturing the experience. The researchers spent a week between Great Falls (tribal headquarters) and the tribal president’s home and office in Billings.