Attorney: Kim Gottschalk
In February 1997, the Branch of Acknowledgment and Research (BAR) placed the Tribe's federal recognition petition on active review status.
After many delays, in July 2000 the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs published a preliminary finding in favor of recognition. On October 18-19, 2000 a technical assistance meeting was held with the Office of Federal Acknowledgment (OFA) to outline a program of action to strengthen the petition prior to the final determination. Substantial work was done to strengthen the Tribe's petition and the final submissions were made in February 2005. Active consideration of the Tribe's new material began on August 1, 2007, and OFA conducted a three week site visit in October, 2007. OFA had previously indicated it would reach a final determination by the end of calendar 2007. This deadline was not met; the date was moved to the end of July 2008. Before that date arrived, the Assistant Secretary granted OFA a new deadline of January 28, 2009 and on January 15, 2009, granted yet another extension to July 27, 2009. OFA granted itself an extension of time to September 25, 2009, and then a further extension to October 26, 2009.
On October 27, 2009 the Acting Assistant Secretary issued a Final Determination against recognition of the Tribe, overruling the decision in the Preliminary Determination. The stated rationale for the decision was the unwillingness to go along with the "departures from precedent" which the previous Assistant Secretary found to be justified by historical circumstances. On February 1, 2010, the Tribe filed a Request for Reconsideration with the Interior Board of Indian Appeals (IBIA). The IBIA allowed interested parties, if any, to file opposition briefs by July 23, 2010. No one filed an opposition brief. It is unclear how long the IBIA will take to rule. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee had a hearing on recognition April 14, 2011 at which the Tribe and NARF testified concerning Little Shell's experience with the process and defects of the process.