April 28, 2021, the Field Museum will honor the Fort Belknap Indian Community and the American Prairie Reserve for their conservation efforts in the Northern Great Plains. These two organizations have played a key role in protecting one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world and restoring populations of grassland species like bison, black-footed ferret, and swift fox, once on the brink of extinction in the Northern Great Plains. In recognition of their work, the Field will present them with the Parker/Gentry Award, a prize for outstanding and underrecognized conservation efforts.
The Fort Belknap Indian Community’s water settlement bill, the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes Water Rights Settlement Act of 2019, was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate.
Congressional approval of our water rights settlement bill is long overdue. The Fort Belknap Indian Community’s water settlement bill will bring infrastructure investment, economic benefits and certainty for water users.
Fort Belknap Indian Reservation is homeland to the Assiniboine (Nakoda) and Gros Ventre (Aaniiih) Tribes. Fort Belknap Indian Reservation is located forty miles south of the Canadian border and twenty miles north of the Missouri River, which is the route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Fort Belknap Indian Reservation is the forth largest Indian reservation in Montana.
Fort Belknap Indian Reservation was created by an Act of Congress on May 1, 1888 and the Fort Belknap Agency was established at its present location, four miles southeast of the present township of Harlem, Montana.
Tribal members accepted the Indian Reorganization Act on October 27, 1934. Members of Fort Belknap adopted a constitution on October 19, 1935 and a corporate charter on August 25, 1937, in accordance with Section 16 of the Indian Reorganization Act of June 18, 1934. The Fort Belknap Indian Community Council is recognized as the governing body on the Fort Belknap Reservation. They are charged with the duty of protecting the health, security, and general welfare of the Fort Belknap Indian Community.
Fort Belknap Indian Community Council consists of the President and the Vice President, who are elected to serve a four year term. Eight Council Members, consisting of four Gros Ventres and four Assiniboine members are elected every two years. The President and Vice President appoint a Secretary Treasurer, who serves four years.
The Fort Belknap Indian Reservation encompasses an area consisting of 675,147 acres, which extends approximately 28 miles east and west and 35 miles north and south. The land is mostly rolling plains. The main industry is agriculture, consisting of small cattle ranches, raising alfalfa hay for feed and larger dry land farms. The Little Rocky Mountains, located at the southern end of the reservation, has two small communities. Hays, located at the southwest portion of the reservation, has both a public school (7-12), and a Catholic School, Saint Paul's Mission, grades K-6. Lodge Pole, located at the southeast portion of the reservation has a public school, grades K-6.
Fort Belknap has a tribal membership of 7,000 enrolled members.