Dems: Meskwakis can deal with crime on their settlement

January 25, 2016

The Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, also known as the Meskwakis, should have control over investigating and prosecuting criminal activities on their settlement.


The State of Iowa has a good relationship with the Meskwakis, and recognizes the tribe’s ability to govern itself. The Iowa Senate approved a bill to send that message to the federal government.


In the 1800s, the Meskwakis purchased 80 acres in Tama County. The Governor of Iowa at the time held the land in trust for the Meskwakis. However, in 1948, Congress passed a law—essentially an unfunded mandate—giving Iowa criminal jurisdiction on the settlement, including crimes committed by one tribe member against another. SF 2022 tells Congress that Iowa wants that law repealed.


Since 1948, the Meskwakis have established their own police force, which is trained and certified by Iowa’s Law Enforcement Academy. The Meskwakis maintain a tribal court, and all judges are law-school educated. The Meskwakis have their own criminal code and adhere to due process for criminal defendants. They have their own Attorney General, public defenders and a full-time probation officer.


The Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence have noted that victims of sexual assault and domestic violence on the Meskwaki Settlement prefer that prosecution and other court services be handled by the tribal court.


SF 2022 continues the good relationship between Iowa and the Meskwakis by encouraging the federal government to recognize that the Meskwakis are uniquely suited to handle criminal justice on their settlement.


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