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Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho

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The tribe will begin working with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services to move child support cases to tribal courts. In the past, child support payments were enforced through an interstate referral process with Idaho in cases where children and the custodial parent lived in Washington and the non-custodial parent was a tribal member on the Nez Perce reservation. Once the agreement between the Washington agency and the tribe is signed, Nez Perce Tribal Court will establish and enforce support payments.

'This is an important moment in the lives of tribal families and especially their children,'' said Samuel Penney, chairman of the tribal executive committee. 'By working directly with the state of Washington, we can ensure the financial support of all our children.''

The agency has four similar agreements between several tribes in Washington, but the August 27 agreement with the tribe is the first outside the state, the tribe said.

'This agreement reaffirms Washington state's continued recognition of the unique sovereign status of federally recognized Indian tribes,'' Penney said. 'Hopefully this agreement will be one of many cooperative efforts between our two governments.''