The creation of the Tribe’s judicial system is an important step in the evolution of the Tribe’s government. The idea of a Tribal Court, initiated by the Tribe and not the federal government, was first suggested by a Tribal Council member as far back as 1948. The first hurdle that needed to be cleared was a financial one. With the development of the Tribe’s casino and its related business entities, that hurdle has been cleared.
Title 5, Article II, Chapter 1, Section 5-2103 of the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa Tribal Code, states as follows: “Except where limited by laws of the Tribe, it shall be the objective of the Tribal Court and the duty of all judges and justices of the Tribal Court in resolving all matters before the Tribal Court to discover and determine the truth and, to the extent possible, to seek a resolution which restores balance to the community in accordance with the customs and traditions of the Tribe, repairs relationships, results in fairness, and avoids principles of retribution and punishment.”
The Meskwaki pride themselves on being a traditional people, and the idea of adopting an Anglo-Saxon court system was difficult to accept by many and presented the next hurdle to be cleared. However, it was also recognized by tribal members that they were in need of a system to resolve disputes, especially internal disputes, which can only be resolved by the Tribe. That being understood, the Tribal Council, guided by the wishes of the membership, created a set of laws that reflect not only an understanding of how a court system works, but also established a foundation for the Court to follow that incorporates Meskwaki beliefs, values, customs and traditions.
To discover and determine the truth; and to seek a resolution which restores balance
to the community in accordance with the customs and traditions of the tribe, repairs relationships, results in fairness, and avoids principles of retribution and punishment.
Top Row (Left to Right): Hon. Joseph Buffalo- Associate Judge, Hon. Jessica Bear-Chief Judge, Dakota Crosswhite-Court Administrator, Hon. Maurice Johnson- Associate Judge
Bottom Row (Left to Right) Misty Jefferson-Adult Probation Officer, D. Suzanne Buiffalo- Senior Deputy Clerk, Joy Mauskemo-Clerk of Court, Quincy Grittmann- Juvenile Probation Officer.
About Meskwaki Courts
The Tribal Court of the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa was established by Tribal Council Resolution No. 12-2004, enacted on June 9, 2004. This resolution created an integrated judicial department consisting of a court of appeals, a trial court, and such lower or intermediate courts as the Tribal Council deems necessary to resolve disputes. This section will help you learn more about the Meskwaki Tribal Court and its work.
It is the mission of the Meskwaki Nation Tribal Court to administer Justice according to laws that govern the Meskwaki Nation by exercising all judicial and dispute resolution powers of the Tribe.
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