Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians, Montana
Little Shell tribe is a recognized by the state of Montana
Little Shell Tribe
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 Chief Ignace Paul who was their leader, was not native to Montana. He migrated to the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana in 1816. They claim he was Iroquois but the Paul's of Montana are of Chippewa descent and the Kootenai claim to be originally from Michigan which is Chippewa country.
Kootenai people live in the northwestern part of the Flathead Reservation. Their communities are Big Arm, Elmo, Montana, Dayton Homesite, and Niarada, Montana. In 1909, nearly 200 Chippewa's were relocated to a new Chippewa Reservation between St. Mary, Babb, Montana, and the Canadian border. Around the same time period (1908-1909), Frank Churchill succeeded or nearly succeeded in having a 2,160 sq. mi., Chippewa Reservation set aside in Valley County, Montana. In those times Valley County was just east of the Fort Belknap Reservation.
In 1920 or 1921, what is now known as the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians was formed on either Joseph Paul's ranch near Lewistown, Montana, or on one of his relatives ranch near Lewistown. Howard Paul, who was the son of Joseph Paul, preserved this information. Joseph Paul obviously was an important Montana Chippewa leader.
On June 10, 1939, eight district representatives met at the Great Falls home of Joseph Paul to continue on with the affairs of the Montana Chippewa's. A new election resulted in the three-person committee being elected to continue to govern. One of their goals was to pursue a land claim. Some sort of dispute probably followed which caused friction. On December 17, 1939 Raymond Gray formed the Montana Landless Indians. His actions possibly led to the friction. World War intensified which led to delays. After the fighting diminished a bit, more friction arose. Joseph Dussome became more appealing to the United States.
Raymond Gray was a communist and that made him less appealing to the United States but they still worked with him. It would basically stay unchanged until Joseph Paul passed away in 1950. The Chippewa's of Hill 57 owned a bit of land there and the United States auctioned it off to the highest bidder in 1950. They wanted to use the proceeds to purchase land adjacent to Rocky Boy Reservation for the Hill 57 Chippewa's. Joseph Dussome hired an attourney in 1950 and filed the land claim suit in 1951.
It was Joseph Dussome who used the name the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana. The land claim lawsuit failed. The United States refused to recognize that the Chippewa's lived in Montana before the 1880s.
Current day Little Shell Chippewa's of Montana are descended from the Chippewa's who refused to relocate to Reservations and from the Chippewa's who were forced off of Rocky Boy Reservation rolls in 1916-1918.
First Chippewa's possibly invaded the Montana region. However, it may happened centuries earlier or possibly later.
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.
Chippewa's from the Montana region were possibly sent to the east to support the Great Lakes Chippewa's in wars against the invading whites and their Indian allies. According to Chippewa author George Copway, the Chippewa's forced their way to the east from the west.
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.
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.
White settlers commenced to invade the Great Plains from the West and East. Chippewa soldiers were constantly at war against the invading whites and their Indian allies.
Last of the Chippewa Wars against the United States were fought in Montana. Many Chippewa's followed prophecy and migrated west into Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Canada.
A.D. 1886 or 1888
Joseph Paul is born near Fort McGinnis, Montana. His birth is strange because his mother may have been Elzear Paul's first wife. She was Rose LaPlante. She passed away in 1881.
Chippewa's are forced to relocate to Canada and the Flathead Reservation. Many, however, continue to refuse to relocate to Reservations.
Chippewa's are set aside a Reservation in the northwestern part of the Flathead Reservation.
Many Chippewa's are upset about the Land Act's. On November 2, 1906 a group of Chippewa's were stopped in southeastern Montana by United States soldiers. White historians claim the Indians were Utes but they were Chippewa's. They were relocated to the Cheyenne River Reservation of South Dakota.
Swan Valley Massacre leads to 4 Chippewa's and one white being killed. The massacre happened a few miles east of the Flathead Reservation. The Valley County Chippewa Reservation was possibly set aside.
Up to 200 Chippewa's are relocated to a new Chippewa Reservation on the northwestern part of the Blackfeet Reservation.
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. They 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.
Rocky Boy Reservation is established. Up to 500 Chippewa's were relocated to the new Reservation just west of the Fort Belknap Reservation.
Last exodus of the Montana Chippewa's leads to up to 200 Chippewa's being relocated to the Navajo Reservation. Many fled to Hill 57.
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.
Joseph Paul passed away. To this day the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana are not recognized by the United States. Joseph Paul made certain it would stay that way.
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