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 Lune has a name Griffin Doll and he has been led by men of the Delorme family, who claim descent from one of the council of the historic Little Shell Band. They are located in North Dakota. Other members are generally whites who are involved in the "sovereign citizens" movement. It is classified as an extremist organization by the Anti-Defamation League.

In the 1960s Ayabiwewidang, a lineal descendant of Thomas Little Shell, died leaving no heirs. The band council chose Louie Delorme, a great-grandson of Accoquay, to take over the band. Accoquay had signed the 1863 treaty. Until recently the Delorme family still headed the band.

In 2001, Ronald Karyance Delorme, a North Dakota resident claiming to be the hereditary chief of the "Little Shell Band of Native Americans of North America," filed a federal lawsuit seeking recognition for his tribe. His suit also sought funds related to appropriations statutes pertaining to Chippewa land claims. His attorney stated the claims (including interest) amounted to more than a hundred million dollars.

Describing himself as the great-grandson of Auguhk Qway, one of the Grand Council members associated with the band led by Chief Little Shell, Delorme had fought with other Chippewa groups over these claims for years. At some point during these unsuccessful legal battles, Delorme transformed the Little Shell Band into a sovereign citizen group. Its ideology was not new to the region: sovereign citizens had been active in North Dakota, where Delorme and his extended family lived, dating back to the 1980s. Gordon Kahl, leader of the sovereign citizen group Posse Comitatus, ambushed and killed two federal marshals in Medina, North Dakota in 1983.

By 2004 the Little Shell Band of Chippewa Native Americans claimed to be a "completely sovereign tribe" that held "allodial title" to over 53 million acres (210,000 km2) of land (this figure was later increased to 62 million). Saying it no longer sought federal recognition, the group declared its own executive, legislative and judicial powers, claiming the right to establish a legal bar and "tribal lawyers," as well as a "sovereign tribal financial and banking institution."

The new version of the Little Shell Band allowed anyone, regardless of ancestry, to become a member of the group, opening the door for a variety of anti-government figures to join (for a fee) and claim membership in the sovereign Little Shell Band. As a result, Little Shell Band activity spread around the country.

Chief Esens

The Little Shell Band has more than 60 documented members, with probably at least a hundred more not yet identified. People have joined from around the country, with larger numbers in North Dakota, the Pacific Northwest and Southern California. The members are an eclectic collection of anti-government activists, including:

The Delorme family. Ronald Delorme and his family organized the Little Shell Band and continue to play an extremely important role. Among the family members identified with the group are Dallas Delorme (Grand Council member), Leo Delorme (Grand Council Chairman), Glen Delorme (Grand Council member), Keith Delorme (Administrative Officer) and Vincent Delorme (Grand Council).

The family is not unified. In April 2004, Ronald Delorme and Leo Delorme mutually expelled each other, as well as various followers, creating separate factions of the group, each with its own Web page and each claiming to be the "real" Little Shell Band.

Ronald Brakke (Tribal Spokesman). Brakke is a long-time sovereign citizen activist from North Dakota. During the 1980s, Brakke, once a farmer, was involved with Posse Comitatus-style groups that promoted fictitious financial instruments, bogus trusts and similar schemes. In 1991, he was convicted for theft after harvesting crops on property owned by a bank.

Navin Naidu (Circuit Court Judge and Finance/Economic Advisor). Naidu first achieved notoriety when he appeared in Fiji in 2001 as the lawyer for George Speight, a former insurance salesman who had spearheaded an unsuccessful coup d'état and was subsequently charged with treason. When the Fiji government checked Naidu's qualifications, it found that his University of London law certificate was spurious, as was his claim to be practicing at the "International Ecclesiastical Law Offices" in Seattle; such offices did not exist. Naidu, a Singapore-born ethnic East Indian and U.S. resident, admitted that he had no license to practice law in the U.S. but that his credentials came from "Jesus." Naidu was arrested and later deported. Back in the United States, Naidu moved to Kent, Washington, where he identified as an "ecclesiastical lawyer." He planned to create a church court that could marry or divorce people and decide criminal cases.[2]

John Lloyd Kirk (Clerk; Tribal Lawyer). A Tukwila, Washington sovereign citizen and a friend of Montana Freeman Leroy Schweitzer, Kirk was one of a group of seven Washington sovereign citizens and militia members arrested in 1997 on a variety of weapons and explosives charges. Convicted of possession of a pipe bomb and conspiracy to possess and make destructive devices, Kirk received a 46-month prison sentence. According to the author Jane Kramer, in 1980 he had been found guilty of statutory rape in an incident involving his daughters.[3]

Kenneth "Keny" Wayne Leaming (Tribal Prosecuting Attorney). Leaming, a self-described "recognized international lawyer" and "Attorney in Fact" is based in Spanaway, Washington. He is a former deputy sheriff and member of the Civil Rights Task Force, a sovereign citizen group that has used badges and raid jackets to resemble law enforcement officers. His CRTF partner, David Carroll Stephenson, was ordered by a federal court in March 2004 to stop promoting an alleged tax scam that allowed people to avoid an estimated $43 million in federal income taxes.

Allen "White Eagle Soaring" Heart. Heart and his partner Kay Ekwall operate the Seventh Fire Web site, where they market a wide variety of items, including "authentic Ojibwe dream catchers," alternative health products and bogus mortgage elimination schemes. The site also provides a variety of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic essays.[4]

Michael Howard Reed. Self-proclaimed "Attorney General" of the Little Shell. He works with the company "Gold Quest International", which has been the target of SEC fraud investigations.[5]

Militia activities[edit]

  • Using bogus license plates and driving documents - Law enforcement officials have noted Little Shell license plates around the country. In July 2003, for example, five residents of Barnes County, North Dakota, were arrested after being caught with fake drivers licenses, registrations and insurance cards issued by the Little Shell Band. The license plates may easily be confused with legitimate tribal license plates.[6]
  • Offering bogus insurance - The Little Shell Band offered insurance as the "Little Shell Pembina Band of North America Assurance Company" (and other names). Despite lacking licenses, the Little Shell Band offered applications for auto and homeowners "assurance" that would replace existing insurance policies, according to North Dakota officials. In 2003 they issued a cease and desist order against Ronald Delorme and others. In June 2003, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation ordered the First Actual American Insurance Company, Ronald Delorme, and Zachary Betts of California to stop marketing malpractice insurance. According to Florida regulators, the company claimed it had authority through the Little Shell Band and was faxing sales materials to doctors throughout Florida.

The states of Missouri, Oregon, Ohio, New York, Washington and Georgia issued similar orders, naming Delorme, the First Actual American Insurance Company, and a variety of other individuals. In July 2004, Leo Delorme ordered the expulsion of Ronald Delorme and various other members for allegedly "preparing and carrying out a liability insurance scheme for the purpose of defrauding doctors." [7]

  • Evading taxes - In May 2004, Donald Donovan of Seaford, Delaware, was sentenced to three years in prison and fined following a four-count conviction on tax evasion charges. Donavan failed to pay almost $100,000 in federal income taxes over several years and had claimed that, as a member of the Little Shell band, he should be exempt. Other Little Shell members made similar claims.

In June 2004, the IRS sent Ronald Delorme a letter complaining that Little Shell Band identification cards described holders as exempt from federal income taxes. Delorme maintained that the issuers of the cards had been expelled from the Little Shell Band.[8]


  1. ^ "Extremism in America: Little Shell". Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
  2. ^ "Navin Naidu a fraud". Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
  3. ^ "News About the Militia Movement". Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
  4. ^ "The Transfer Agreement between Zionism and Nazism". Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
  5. ^ Archived March 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Little Shell Pembina Band (North Dakota, USA)". Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
  7. ^ "Little Shell Pembina Band of North America", North Dakota state government
  8. ^ Declarations of independence ... Retrieved 2011-04-25. 

External links[edit]