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Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians, Montana

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United States Gotoarrow.png American Indians Gotoarrow.png Montana Gotoarrow.png Indians of Montana Gotoarrow.png Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians, Montana

Little Shell tribe is recognized by the state of Montana

Tribal Headquarters[edit | edit source]

Little Shell Tribe
P.O. Box 543
Black Eagle, Mt 59414

History[edit | edit source]

Chippewas have lived in Montana for a very long time. Centuries before the whites landed on the eastern shores of America, Native Americans were here. They are, in every sense of term:First Nation People. In Montana, the Algonquians are known as the Arapaho (that includes the Gros Ventre), Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Chippewa,and Cree. The Flathead (they include the Kailspel, Pend d'Oreille, and Spokane) are a mixture of Algonquin and non Algonquin Indians. Their language is a part of the Algonquian language family.Under important websites below, is a link to a pdf book about the history of the Little Shell Tribe. It's the third link. It includes genealogical information.

What brought the Chippewas west into the Montana region was prophecy. They were alarmed about the Seven Fires Prophecy and reacted with intense acceptance. Survival was put first. They began their migration westward into the Montana region about 1,000 to 1,500 years ago. The Flathead People including the Kalispel, Pend d'Oreille, and Spokane speak the same language. Ojibway authors from the 19th century, wrote about the Chippewas forcing their way west into Montana and fighting the Flatheads. This ancient war happened long ago.

In Montana, the Chippewas are also known as the Arapaho (that includes the Gros Ventre), Blackfeet, Cheyenne, and Cree. The Cree are the northern Chippewas. And the Blackfeet are Cree according to those who have researched their history and linguistics. They are also known as the Ma-ski-go-walk. It means Swamp or Swampy People. The word: "Cheyenne" means "south" in Chippewa. Of course, the Chippewa word for south is Shawan. Most think it is pronounced as Sha-wan but it is really pronounced as Shaw-an. The Arapaho (that includes the Gros Ventre) and the Cheyenne are the same people.

The Nez Perce[edit | edit source]

They are also Chippewa. In the Lake Nipissing region of Ontario, the Amikwa Chippewas live. Actually they live between the north shores of Lake Huron and Lake Nipissing. Amikwa in Chippewa means Beavers. The Amikwa are also known as the Nez Perce. The Amikwa Chippewas were forced to retreat from the Lake Nipissing region before 1661, by the white invaders and their Indian allies. By 1661, they were living along the northern shores of Lake Superior. They continued to follow prophecy and migrated west into the Alberta and Montana region. After reaching the Montana region, they began waging war against the Flatheads. They eventually migrated west into Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. They also migrated southward into northern California. Other Amikwa Chippewas migrated north into northern Alberta and northern British Columbia. They are the Beaver Tribe including the Sekani, of that region. Click this link Algonquin Nations to visit The Center for Algonquin Culture . It has a list of Anishinabe speaking Chippewas or Anishinabek.

The 1876-1877 War[edit | edit source]

In 1876, the United States launched a military campaign against the Montana Chippewas. It lasted for nearly 3 years. The Nez Perce migrated westward, as instructed in the Seven Fires Prophecy. The Great Sioux War of 1876-1877, was fought primarily in Montana and Wyoming, and did not involve the Indians from South Dakota.

The Little Shell Pembina Chippewa Reservation[edit | edit source]

According to a reporter from the Havre Advertiser, the Chippewa village located near Sun River Park, had 45 lodges and a population of 150 people. Three people per lodge. His population estimate it too low. Things were different back then. Families had to support each other which means household sizes were larger then. The population of the Chippewa village had to be between 300 and 400. Six people per lodge.

The 1896 Great Falls Forced Relocations[edit | edit source]

In June and July of 1896, Montana Governor Rickards, sent a telegram to the sheriff of Cascade County, sheriff Dwyer, informing him to instruct major Sanno to round up the Little Shell Chippewas in the Great Falls region (in the June 17, 1896 issue of the Anaconda Standard they claimed it was the Cree but the Cree are the northern Chippewas who are known as Mus-ke-go-walk which means Swampy People) to prepare them for relocations.

In other areas of Montana, the Little Shell Chippewas were gathered to be sent to board trains to be deported out of the Little Shell Chippewas Blackfeet Reservation (aka Turtle Mountain Reservation), They were the 4th Blackfeet Reservation (500), Crow Reservation (200 to 300), Havre (Fort Assiniboine Indian Reservation - 100 to 200), Malta (Fort Belknap Reservation 100 to 200), Missoula (Flathead Reservation - 200 to 300), and Glasgow (Fort Peck Reservation - 100 to 200).

Most may have been relocated to the Wind River Reservation of Wyoming in 1896. Many were deported to the Red Lake Reservation, Colville-Spokane Reservation, Yakima Reservation, Fort Hall Reservation, Uintah-Ouray Reservation, Augua Caliente Reservation, Twenty-Nine Palms Reservation, and Fort Apache Reservation. In June of 1896, Fort Apache Reservation became two Reservations. They are Fort Apache Reservation and San Carlos Reservation.

Some Little Shell Chippewas were relocated to Alberta (the Montana Reserve) and Saskatchewan (Onion Lake Reserve). However, the whites were cautious about relocating the Chippewas to Canada. Exactly how many originally lived in the Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin region, is not known. Many were refugees from the 1862 Minnesota Indian War.  Only a few Chippewas fled south back to their native Montana, in 1885. They were most likely the immediate families of chiefs Little Bear, Little Poplar, and Lucky Man. Perhaps as many as 30-50 Chippewas returned to Montana in 1885.

Chippewas followed prophecy. They knew if they fled to an area with a large white population, there would be discord which might well lead to fighting and deaths. Many Chippewas from the Great Lakes region, followed the Seven Fires Prophecy and migrated west into Montana. Exactly how many of the Montana Chippewas were sent back to Minnesota and Wisconsin is unknown. Even Montana born Chippewas were required to relocate outside of Montana.

This following link Government Nagpra Documents Map has a map of the Indian Reservations in the United States. Look for the number 173. Click on "Map Index" or click this link Government Nagpra Documents Map Index to find a list of the numbers which identify each Indian Reservation. For 173, it has OUT. It probably represents the forced relocation of the Little Shell Chippewas of Montana, out of Montana.

New Chippewa Reservations[edit | edit source]

As written earlier, in April of 1894 the Great Falls Park Commission purchased land for future park sites. They were probably Reservations for the Chippewas who remained after the forced deportations. Most were Metis who were predominantly Indian. There was already the Fort Shaw Indian School Reservation about 15 miles west of Great Falls in 1894. St. Peters Mission near Garrison and Ulm, Montana, became a Chippewa Reservation. It is connected to the Park Island Reservation. It includes Park Island, Taylor Island, and White Bear Islands.

To the south of Great Falls, another Chippewa Reservation was set aside between Gibson Flats and the Missouri River. It is actually a part of the Park Island Reservation. However, to distinguish it from Park Island, it must be referred to as Highland Park. And the Sun River Park where the Chippewa village chief Little Bear lived in, was located, is the other. It extends from Mount Royal (aka Hill 57) to Vaughn, Montana.

There may have been another Chippewa Reservation where the St. Peters Mission was located within the mountains 10.5 miles northwest of Cascade, Montana. Each of these Chippewa Reservations have one thing in common. Each has an excellent view of Square Butte.

There may have also been another Chippewa Reservation where the St. Peters Mission was located on the peninsula almost adjacent to Rainbow Falls, between 1861-1866. There was a Chippewa village located where Wire Mill Road is until the 1950s. That Reservation may have extended to Rainbow Falls.

In 1908-1909, the United States broke treaty and seized those lands. Indian Agent Frank Churchill found chief Rocky Boy at the Chippewa village near Garrison, Montana and negotiations followed. The United States did not want the large Chippewa population living in the Great Falls region.

The Chippewa Reservation west of Cascade was also seized. It was the second largest. It includes the Big Belt Mountains and Little Belt Mountains. As mentioned, it is located in the mountains with the exception of a narrow entrance to the northeast where you can see Square Butte. That Reservation extended south and east and southeast of Helena. Chief Rocky Boy commenced to gather the Chippewas from that Reservation in 1908, to gather near Helena, to be deported to the 4th Blackfeet Reservation. They were deported in November of 1909. However, not all Chippewas moved. Some stayed in the Helena area.  Even in the 1940s, around 40 to 50 Chippewas lived there. It was known as Moccasin Flats.

Another very large Chippewa Reservation was located in what is now Bob Marshall Wilderness Area and Scapegoat Wilderness Area. It may have included Swan Valley. In October of 1908, the Swan Valley Massacre happened. The Chippewa camp attacked was not the only Chippewa camp in Swan Valley at that time. The Chippewas of that location were deported to both Blackfeet Reservation and Flathead Reservation.The other Chippewas in the Great Falls region were deported to the 4th Blackfeet Reservation and Fort Belknap Reservation. Fort Belknap Reservation was increased in size from just under 1,000 sq. mi. to over 3,500 sq. mi. to accommodate the 100s of Chippewas who relocated. In 1910, Rainbow Falls Dam was constructed.

There is evidence the Chippewa Reservation where Sun River Park is located was not entirely gone. On August 18, 1950, the United States auctioned off what little land remained. Click this link INDIAN AFFAIRS: LAWS AND TREATIES to read it.

Land Claim Lawsuit[edit | edit source]

In 1950, Joseph Dussome and Elizabeth Swan, both leaders from Rocky Boy's Reservation, and other Chippewa leaders, hired a lawyer who then filed a land claim lawsuit in 1951. Instead of including the entire land area of the original Blackfeet Reservation which was created on October 17, 1855, they confined their land claim to the land area of the original Blackfeet Reservation with the number 565 or the 3rd Blackfeet Reservation. On April 5, 1974, the United States rejected the land claim lawsuit.

Those Little Shell Chippewas who continue to side with Joseph Dussome and those other Chippewa leaders who filed the land claim lawsuit, must relocate their Little Shell Tribe office to the area with the number 565. Great Falls is within the land area with the number 399. Dussome and those other Little Shell Chippewa leaders made themselves clear. They confined their land claim lawsuit to the land area with the number 565 or the 3rd Blackfeet Reservation.

They confined their land claim lawsuit to the April 15, 1874 Treaty. Click this link A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875 to read the April 15, 1874 Treaty. They included the Crow but did not include the Crow in the treaty which created the original Blackfeet Reservation on October 17, 1855.

Joseph Paul[edit | edit source]

According to the pdf book mentioned above, which relates the history of the Little Shell Chippewa and genealogical information. According to Howard Paul (Joseph Pauls's son) a meeting was held at the family ranch of Joseph Paul in 1921 near Lewistown, Montana. (page 92). We know from that same book that the Montana Chippewas were continuing to govern the entire land area of the original Blackfeet Reservation. On page 119, it is written that a meeting was held at Joseph Paul's home in Great Falls, Montana on June 10, 1939. Even in 1939, they were assigning representatives for districts throughout the original Blackfeet Reservation. Those districts are: Wolf Point (565); Hays (565); Harlem (565); Box Elder (565); Dupuyer (574); August (399); Great Falls (399 and 574); Lewistown (399); and Helena (398).

After the June 10, 1939 meeting, the Little Shell Tribes government experienced friction. By 1950, Joseph Dussome and the other Chippewa leaders hired a lawyer. The following year, they filed the land claim lawsuit for the land area with the number 565.

It is that information which proves the Chippewas did not cede their vast Reservation which is the original Blackfeet Reservation created on October 17, 1855. We have to include the land area with the number 574 because a district was located within that land area in 1939. That was Dupuyer, Montana which is 6 miles south of the 4th Blackfeet Reservation. Land areas with the numbers 398 and 399, were not ceded by the September 1, 1868 Treaty. According to the United States the September 1, 1868 Treaty was not ratified. By Executive order of July 5, 1873, a reserve was set apart for the joint occupancy of the Gros Ventres, Piegan, Blackfeet, and River Crows.Chiefs Little Shell III, Red Thunder, and other Chippewa leaders refused to cede the original Blackfeet Reservation in 1892. They continued to honor the treaties which created their vast Reservation.

A.D. 1000

First Chippewas possibly invaded the Montana region. However, it may have happened centuries earlier.

A.D. 1492

A planned expedition to the west was led by an Italian. They sailed towards the west for several months before landing on one of the islands of what is now the Bahamas.

A.D. 1500

Chippewas from the Montana region, were sent to the east to support the Great Lakes Chippewas in wars against the white settlers and their Indian allies. According to Chippewa author George Copway, the Chippewas forced their way to the east from the west. According to the 1832 Edinburgh Encyclopedia, the Lenni Lenape or Delaware Tribe, forced their way from the Missouri River region to the east. They are the Chippewas.

A.D. 1805

Lewis and Clark reached the Great Falls, Montana region on June 13. They discovered the village situated near where the current Hill 57 Chippewa settlement is.

A.D. 1816

Chief Ignace (Aeneas) Paul arrived to the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana. He was possibly the first Paul to live in Montana. If he was, the Montana Paul clan laid down their first roots in western Montana. Antoine Plante had reached Montana a few years before.

A.D. 1850

White settlers began to settle in the Great Plains from the West and East. Chippewa soldiers were constantly at war against the whites and their Indian allies.

A.D. 1877-1882

Last of the Chippewa Wars against the United States were fought in Idaho, Montana, and Oregon. Many Chippewas followed prophecy and migrated west into Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and to Canada.

A.D. 1877

An exodus to the west began. After a few months the United States halted the westward exodus but the Chippewas then began an exodus to the north into Alberta and Saskatchewan. They were led there by chiefs Big Bear and Sitting Bull.

A.D. 1877

Chief Joseph and many Chippewas (Nez Perce) are arrested and relocated to Oklahoma. A few years later, chief Joseph and many Chippewas were freed but forced to relocate to the Colville Reservation in Washington.

A.D. 1879 or 1888

Joseph Paul is born near Fort McGinnis, Montana. His father was Elzear Paul and his mother was Rose LaPlant.

A.D. 1881

Chief Sitting Bull surrendered to the United States. He was forced to relocate to the Cheyenne River-Standing Rock Reservation of North Dakota and South Dakota.

A.D. 1895

Chiefs Little Shell III, Red Thunder, and many other Chippewa leaders are arrested and forced to relocate to the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. Many barricaded themselves in a fort but eventually surrendered. Chief Little Shell III and about 150 to 200 Chippewa soldiers, arrived to the fort after the surrender. Afterwards, chief Little Shell III was arrested. This event ended Chippewa resistance. .

A.D. 1896

Chippewas in the Great Falls region, are forced to relocate to Canada, Flathead Reservation, and Reservations in the southwest (Arizona and California). Many, however, continued to refuse to relocate.

A.D. 1904

Chippewas are set aside a Reservation in the northwestern part of the Flathead Reservation.

A.D. 1906

Many Chippewas are upset about the Land Act's. On November 2, 1906 a group of Chippewas were stopped in southeastern Montana by United States soldiers. White historians claim the Indians were Utes but they were Chippewas. They were relocated to the Cheyenne River Reservation of South Dakota.

A.D. 1908

Swan Valley Massacre leads to 4 Chippewas and one white being killed. The massacre happened a few miles east of the Flathead Reservation.

A.D. 1909

Up to 200 Chippewa's are relocated to a new Chippewa Reservation within the Blackfeet Reservation. Surplus land at the Blackfeet Reservation went to the whites. The new Chippewa Reservation within the Blackfeet Reservation, is the fourth Blackfeet Reservation. On November 13, 1909, the first train loads of Chippewa settlers reached their new Chippewa Blackfeet Reservation.

A.D. 1909

A new Reservation is created for the Chippewas from Fort Peck Reservation. Indian Inspector Frank Churchill requested for and received 60 townships or 2,160 sq. mi. for the Chippewas from Fort Peck Reservation. The 2,160 sq. mi. was added on to the Fort Belknap Reservation. It is located adjacent to the western border of Fort Belknap Reservation. With the new land addition, the size of Fort Belknap Reservation increased to 3,160 sq. mi. In November of 1909, the first Chippewa settlers arrived to their new Chippewa Fort Belknap Reservation.

A.D. 1910

Chief Pennato leads 100s of Chippewa's off their new Reservation in the Blackfeet Reservation in late 1910. Many fled towards southwest Montana then into Idaho. By early 1911, they are in northern Nevada. A small group of perhaps 12, butchered four white ranchers and one Chinese man. On February 26, 1911 a white posse caught them in northwestern Nevada and killed eight of them. It is known as the Shoshone Mike Massacre. What caused the exodus was land allotments.

A.D. 1916

Chief Rocky Boy passed away. Some speculate chief Rocky Boy was assassinated. He was instrumental in having new Chippewa Reservations created in Montana, for the Chippewas of Idaho and Montana.

A.D. 1916

Rocky Boy Reservation is supposedly established. However, it is a part of the new Chippewa Reservation created in 1909 for the Chippewas from Fort Peck Reservation. Up to 500 new Chippewa settlers were relocated to Rocky Boy's Reservation, after it was officially created in 1916. Some of the Chippewas came from Idaho.

A.D. 1918

Last exodus of the Montana Chippewas leads to near 200 Chippewas being relocated to the Navajo Reservation. Many fled to Hill 57. Between 1900 and 1934, 1,000s of Montana Chippewas were relocated to the Navajo Reservation. In the 1940s, many were relocated to the Colorado River Indian Reservation of Arizona and California. These Chippewas were removed from Reservation rolls for some reason in 1916 and 1917.

A.D. 1921

Joseph Paul forms the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana. He claims the July 16, 1855 Hell Gate Treaty and October 17, 1855 Blackfeet Treaty, are not valid. Since Joseph Paul may have been in his 40s at the time, the formation of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana, may have happened years earlier.

A.D. 1934

Indian Reorganization Act is passed. Several 1,000 Chippewas are still living throughout the original Blackfeet Reservation, in their own communities. Their communities or enclaves or ghettos, were usually located adjacent to or very near white settlements. Though the number of Chippewa communities had dropped since 1900, there were still a few in the 1930s. During the 1930s, the United States possibly relocated 1,000s of Montana Chippewas to the Navajo Reservation. Land additions were added to the Navajo Reservation in 1930 and 1934, specifically for the landless Chippewas of Montana, and also California and Nevada.

A.D. 1959

Joseph Paul passed away. To this day the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana are not recognized by the United States. To learn about the land owned by the Chippewa's at Little Shell Mountain (Hill 57) which was auctioned off in 1950, click the link below. Though the United States won't let the truth be known, the Chippewas did own considerable land around Hill 57. The current Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana were in a dispute some time ago which was recently settled.

Additional References to the History of the Tribe

Reservations[edit | edit source]

Blackfeet Indian Reservation (Montana)

Flathead Indian Reservation (Montana)

Fort Belknap Indian Reservation (Montana)

Rocky Boy Indian Reservation (Montana)

Crow-Northern Cheyenne Reservation.

Fort Peck Reservation.

Wind River Reservation.

Uintah-Ouray Reservation.

Fort Hall Reservation.

Nez Perce Reservation.

Coeur d'Alene Reservation.

Colville-Spokane Reservation.

Yakima Reservation.

Warm Springs Reservation.

Klamath Reservation.

Coastal Oregon Reservation.

Hoopa-Yurok Reservation.

Round Valley Reservation.

All California Indian Rancherias.

Records[edit | edit source]

The majority of records of individuals were those created by the agencies. Some records may be available to tribal members through the tribal headquarters.They were (and are) the local office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and were charged with maintaining records of the activities of those under their responsibility. Among these records are:

Important Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives; Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1906 Available online.
  • Klein, Barry T., ed. Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian. Nyack, New York: Todd Publications, 2009. 10th ed. WorldCat 317923332; FHL book 970.1 R259e.
  • Malinowski, Sharon and Sheets, Anna, eds. The Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 1998. 4 volumes. Includes: Lists of Federally Recognized Tribes for U.S., Alaska, and Canada – pp. 513-529 Alphabetical Listing of Tribes, with reference to volume and page in this series Map of “Historic Locations of U.S. Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Canadian Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Mexican, Hawaiian and Caribbean Native Groups” Maps of “State and Federally Recognized U.S. Indian Reservations. WorldCat 37475188; FHL book 970.1 G131g.
Vol. 1 -- Northeast, Southeast, Caribbean
Vol. 2 -- Great Basin, Southwest, Middle America
Vol. 3 -- Arctic, Subarctic, Great Plains, Plateau
Vol. 4 -- California, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Islands
  • Sturtevant, William C. Handbook of North American Indians. 20 vols., some not yet published. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1978– .
Volume 1 -- Not yet published
Volume 2 -- Indians in Contemporary Society (pub. 2008) -- WorldCat 234303751
Volume 3 -- Environment, Origins, and Population (pub. 2006) -- WorldCat 255572371
Volume 4 -- History of Indian-White Relations (pub. 1988) -- WorldCat 19331914; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.4.
Volume 5 -- Arctic (pub. 1984) -- WorldCat 299653808; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.5.
Volume 6 -- Subarctic (pub. 1981) -- WorldCat 247493742; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.6.
Volume 7 -- Northwest Coast (pub. 1990) -- WorldCat 247493311
Volume 8 -- California (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 13240086; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.8.
Volume 9 -- Southwest (pub. 1979) -- WorldCat 26140053; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.9.
Volume 10 -- Southwest (pub. 1983) -- WorldCat 301504096; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.10.
Volume 11 -- Great Basin (pub. 1986) -- WorldCat 256516416; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.11.
Volume 12 -- Plateau (pub. 1998) -- WorldCat 39401371; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.12.
Volume 13 -- Plains, 2 vols. (pub. 2001) -- WorldCat 48209643
Volume 14 -- Southeast (pub. 2004) -- WorldCat 254277176
Volume 15 -- Northwest (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 356517503; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.15.
Volume 16 -- Not yet published
Volume 17 -- Languages (pub. 1996) -- WorldCat 43957746
Volume 18 -- Not yet published
Volume 19 -- Not yet published
Volume 20 -- Not yet published