I'm generally all for according native American tribes their sovereignty (especially in light of all the broken treaties of the past), but the fact that they don't have separation of powers as we do does make me hesitate: Wash. Legislature consider tribal rights billBy SHANNON DININNY
YAKIMA, Wash. —
Lawmakers in Washington are considering a proposal to start dismantling the state's civil jurisdiction over American Indians, a step many consider long overdue. But some say they worry that restoring full sovereignty to tribes over their members might subject outsiders to unfair treatment in tribal courts.
Congress passed a law delegating jurisdiction over tribes to some states in 1953, at a period when the government was forcing Indians to assimilate. The law was sparked in part by public demand for improved law enforcement on reservations and a desire to offload financial burdens in the wake of World War II.
States such as Nebraska and Oregon have unraveled parts of the federal mandate in the years since. In Washington, the idea has garnered broad support following a series of meetings last year by a task force that included law enforcement, prosecutors, and representatives of counties and cities.
Some people, though, fear tribes may fail to ensure due process for everyone, given a perceived lack of separation between some executive and judicial tribal government branches. They contend state courts must remain an option to settle disputes.