A record number of votes were cast in the election for the next tribal council of the Montana Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians this week.
The next tribal council will oversee and make decisions for the 4,500 citizens of the Great Falls-based Tribe, which is preparing for an historic period after recently being recognized by the federal government following a century-long fight.
In the results, finalized on Saturday and announced Sunday, Gerald Gray Jr. was once again elected as chair with 164 votes. The remaining results were:
- First vice chair: Clarence Sivertsen (162 votes)
- Second vice chair: Leona Keinenberger (160 votes)
- Secretary/treasurer: Colleen Hill (159 votes)
- General Council: Iris Kill Eagle (133 votes)
- General Council: Kim McKeenan (117 votes)
- General Council: Donald Davis (104 votes)
In a statement, the Tribe said more voters cast ballots than ever before, and every candidate ran positive campaigns.
"We are one people and continue the fight for our ancestors for our future generations," the Tribe said.
The Little Shell Tribe was just granted federal recognition through an earmark in a December 2019 federal defense bill. The recognition has given the Tribe access to more federal funding and the Indian Health Services.
The Tribe is based in Great Falls, but it doesn't have designated land yet, although the federal recognition grants it a reservation. Land negotiations between the Tribe and the federal government devolved more than 100 years ago.