Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians, Montana

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Little Shell tribe is a recognized by the state of Montana

Tribal Headquarters

Little Shell Tribe

Box 1384

105 Smelter Ave. Mini Mall

Great Falls, Mt 59403

1.406.771.8722   Fax 1.406.771.0409


Originally, the Chippewa's, Arapaho, Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Cree, and Gros Ventre lived in the Great Lakes region. All were motivated to migrate to the west by the Seven Fires Prophecy. Exactly how long they have lived in Montana is a mystery. It is well known that the Cheyenne practiced the Chippewa's Midewiwin which means they were among the first Chippewa's to enter Montana. 

White historians think the Chippewa's arrived to Montana in the 1880s but that is not correct. Chippewa leader chief Rocky Boy, told Indian Inspector Frank Churchill that he was born in Montana somewhere between Anaconda and Butte. Chief Rocky Boy and his brother chief Pennato, were leaders of the Chippewa's of western Montana. Chief Little Shell III was the leader of the Chippewa's of central and eastern Montana.

And the name of this group of western Chippewa's is probably not derived from chief Little Shell III. In the Great Falls, Montana region is the well known Hill 57. Using google earth you can clearly see a shell shape within an edge of the small mountain or plateau. In front of that shell shape is the Chippewa's Hill 57 settlement. Back before Joseph Paul passed away in 1950, as many as 300 to 400 Chippewa's were living there. After Paul's death the population of the Chippewa Hill 57 settlement dramatically dropped. Today, the settlement only has a population of possibly 15 to 20 people.

It could be that the Chippewa's named what is now called Hill 57, Little Shell Mountain. Lewis and Clark knew an Indian village was situated very near Little Shell Mountain in 1805. It was located near where the Sun River enters the Missouri River. Little Shell Mountain is about 1.5 miles from where the Sun River enters the Missouri River.

In 1916-1918, the last Chippewa Exodus in Montana resulted in a group of up to 100 Chippewa's who were forced off of Rocky Boy Reservation rolls, to relocate to Little Shell Mountain or Hill 57. In 1904, chief Rocky Boy commenced a campaign to have a Chippewa Reservation set aside within the Flathead Reservation for the Chippewa's living there. The bill failed to pass.

However, even now some of the Kootenai people know they originally lived in Michigan. And  

Brief Timeline

Brief History

Additional References to the History of the Tribe



Important Web Sites

  • Constitution of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana



  • 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