Court rules on Meskwaki settlement jurisdiction case

The Meskwaki Tribal Code is available for reference to judges of the Tribal Court in judges' chambers at the Meskwaki Tribal Center. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
By  | 

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court says state courts have jurisdiction over crimes committed on the Meskwaki Settlement when the crimes are committed by non-American Indian individuals or against people not members of a tribe.

The court made the ruling Friday in a case involving Jessica Rae Stanton. She was charged in January at the Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel in Tama by a tribal police officer with trespass, possession of drug paraphernalia and violation of a no-contact order.

A magistrate dismissed the charges, concluding a federal law passed last year removed state jurisdiction for crimes on the Indian settlement.
The case centers on changing law regarding jurisdiction on tribal lands.

A 1948 federal law gave state officials jurisdiction on tribal land for crimes committed by tribal members. However, last December Congress passed a new law repealing the 1948 act, removing state jurisdiction from crimes by tribal members or against tribal members on Indian settlements. State officials still have jurisdiction for crimes by non-Indians or against non-Indians members on tribal settlements.

The court reinstated Stanton's charges and sent them back to district court for a determination of whether she is American Indian and whether any victims are members of a tribe.