Members of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians are caught up in political infighting as a federal decision on whether to recognize the tribe approaches, but both sides say they don't expect it to change the outcome.
The tribe's recognition petition has languished before the Bureau of Indian Affairs for more than three decades. After several missed several deadlines, the agency last month set an Oct. 26 decision date.
But in defiance of tribal Chairman John Sinclair, a faction of tribal members are calling for an election to challenge his legitimacy.
Both Sinclair and one of the faction's lead figures say the dispute is unlikely to sway the bureau's ultimate call on recognition. They say it proves tribal members are engaged in the political process.
The tribe and its 4,300 members were recognized by the state of Montana in 2000.