A powwow on the Meskwaki Settlement in Iowa. Photo: Angel Mercado
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House set to approve bill to remove state jurisdiction on Meskwaki Settlement

Another termination-era law, this one affecting the Meskwaki Nation, is on the chopping block.

In 1948, Congress authorized the state of Iowa to prosecute tribal citizens for crimes on the Meskwaki Settlement. The law was passed during the termination era, in which the federal government was eagerly relinquishing its trust and treaty responsibilities.

Federal policy has since shifted toward self-determination yet the 1948 law remains on the books. In the meantime, the tribe has developed its own justice system, including law enforcement and courts.

"Sixty-eight years after passage of the 1948 act, the settlement is a much different place," treasurer Lavern Jefferson said in Congressional testimony last year. "The Meskawki Nation operates and maintains a fully functional criminal justice system."

The state of Iowa already enacted a law to relinquish its role on the settlement. So passage of H.R.1074 would put the tribe one step closer to repealing the 1948 act.

The bill is due to be considered in the House under a suspension of the rules on Wednesday, according to the House Majority Leader's schedule. The process is typically used for non-controversial measures.

A companion version, S.381, was approved by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on March 29. That bill has not yet been brought up for consideration in the Senate.

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