Culver signs bill allowing courts to honor Meskwaki rulings 5-27-07

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Chet Culver has signed into law a bill allowing Iowa courts to honor and enforce Meskwaki Tribal Court civil rulings, despite the objections of many Meskwakis.

State courts will now recognize and enforce tribal court judgments filed in a state court, unless a timely objection is filed.

But several Meskwakis are concerned about bill, which Culver signed Friday. Former Tribal Council member Ray Young Bear believes that it could subject sacred tribal lands to legal claims and court judgments. He also said the Tribal Council made the bill a legislative priority without first detailing its likely impact to tribe members.

Tribal member Leodean Peters said the new law will diminish tribal sovereignty by giving the state undue influence on the Meskwaki Settlement, which is located in eastern Iowa. Peters said that the Meskwaki people are intelligent enough not to let this pass without some resistance to the logic behind this deception,

Young Bear, who has announced his candidacy for a Tribal Council seat in upcoming fall elections, said Friday he will circulate a petition calling for reconsideration of the bill.

Known as Senate File 430, the bill also states that the filing of a foreign or tribal judgment will not create a lien upon any real estate until all challenges, if any, to the judgment are concluded.

An initial version of the bill, passed in March by the Iowa Senate, would have extended full faith and credit to civil decisions made by the Meskwaki courts - the same doctrine that allows courts to recognize rulings made in other states.

The House amended the bill, changing full faith and credit provisions to comity provisions, which are granted out of respect rather than by obligation.