Last month, the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe was recognized as a sovereign nation by the federal government, which Montana Senator Jon Tester has been urging for over 12 years. Tester's first bill as a U.S. Senator in 2007 was support of the Little Shell Tribe. This past year, he successfully moved to include the recognition bill in the National Defense Authorization Act. The little Shell Tribe is headquartered in Great Falls. The state recognized the tribe 20 years ago, but as Tester noted, the tribe has been seeking sovereign status for over 100 years. The Little Shell Chippewa Tribe has no reservation and its over 5,000 members live throughout Montana, including Great Falls, Havre, Lewistown, Billings, Helena, Butte, Wolf Point and Hamilton.

In a video statement, Sen. Tester said, "In the end it makes the Little Shell Tribe stronger. I think it gives them the kind of ability to move into the 21st century in a way they wouldn't have had without this recognition."