Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians

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The Little Shell Band of Chippewa Native Americans were the historic sub-band of the Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians led by Chief Little Shell in the nineteenth century. Based in North Dakota around the Pembina River, they were part of the large Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) tribe that occupied territory west of the Great Lakes by that time. Many had partial European ancestry from intermarriage by French-Canadian fur traders and trappers; some began to identify as Métis, today recognized as one of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. Located in the 17th century in the areas around the Great Lakes, they gradually moved west into North Dakota and Montana.

Recognized successor apparent bands include the federally recognized Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, based in North Dakota; the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana is recognized by the state of Montana and it has been seeking federal recognition.


The Ojibwe/Chippewa, earlier located around the Great Lakes and part of Woodland Culture, migrated into the northern Great Plains from present-day Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota beginning in the 17th century. There they adopted the use of horses, and gradually modeled some of their culture on other Plains tribes.

They were pushed westward to present-day North Dakota out of Minnesota by European-American encroachment. Many settled in the area around the Pembina River in northeastern North Dakota, where the Little Shell Band of Chippewa were living in the nineteenth century.[1] Due to intermarriage with French-Canadian fur trappers over the years, this settlement became a center for the Métis people, who developed their own culture, related to, but separate from, the French and Ojibwe, they have since recognized as an independent First Nation by Canada.

European-American settlement pressure continued and many descendants of the band continued to migrate west to Montana. Chippewa live on both sides of the Canadian-US border (in Canada they are known as Ojibwa.)


Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians[edit]

The federally recognized Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians of North Dakota has a reservation in north-central North Dakota along the US-Canada border, in the Turtle Mountains where the Chippewa had long lived, along with off-Reservation trust parcels across western North Dakota, eastern Montana and northern South Dakota, making the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation one of the most spread out in the United States.

Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana[edit]

The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana is the only Chippewa band to be recognized by that state; they are seeking Federal recognition; the Montana Ojibwe have been well-established in that area for more than a century. Some of its members were associated with the Louis Riel Northwest Rebellion, as described in Joseph Kinsey Howard's Strange Empire. Riel and some of his lieutenants were captured and executed for treason by the Canadian (British) army and legal system. See Trial of Louis Riel.


The so-called "Little Shell Pembina Band of North America," based in North Dakota, is a sovereign citizens group founded by one family descended from the historical Little Shell Chippewa Band and made up mostly of white militia members, it claims to be a successor apparent of the Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians, but it is not recognized as a Native American tribe by the US federal government nor by North Dakota. It is classified as an extremist organization by the Anti-Defamation League.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Extremism in America: Little Shell". Archived from the original on 2011-05-23. Retrieved 2011-04-25.

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