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Meskwaki Tribe moves closer to removing state from jurisdiction

Dancers at the annual Meskwaki Powwow. Photo by Twisted Sisters via Facebook

The Iowa Senate passed its first bill of 2016 on Wednesday, a measure that cedes the state's criminal authority over the Meskwaki Tribe.

SF2022 declares that the state has no authority over crimes "committed by or against Indians" on the reservation. It addresses the 1948 federal law that first put the tribe under state jurisdiction.

"There's a history of recognizing the tribe's ability to govern itself," Sen. Steve Sodders (D) said during debate on SF2022.

Last June, the Iowa Legislature passed SCR5, which calls on Congress to repeal the 1948 law. Sodders said SF2022 represents another step toward that goal.

Sodders also mentioned the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, which allows the federal government to more easily resume its role on reservations where states have been granted jurisdiction. So far two tribes have taken advantage of that process but it's not clear if the Meskwakis can do the same without a repeal of the 1948 law.

SF2022, however, will become effective once the federal government "accepts and assumes" jurisdiction over the Meskwaki Settlement by whatever method.

The bill awaits consideration in the Iowa House.

Get the Story:
Senate OKs Bill to Give Sac and Fox Tribe More Judicial Power (AP 1/20)
First bill to pass Iowa Senate in 2016 deals with Meskwaki’s judicial power (Radio Iowa 1/21)

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Iowa lawmakers back repeal of jurisdiction over Meskwaki Tribe (06/12)

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