Tama County sheriff's officers quit patrolling the Meskwaki Indian Settlement Aug. 8 after tribal officials failed to negotiate a new law enforcement contract. Kucera reopened negotiations with the Meskwakis during the spring after the tribe's last contract expired in October 2000. The Meskwaki Tribal Council wants to establish its own police and court system within the coming year but needs other enforcement in the meantime. The settlement once had its own police force, but the federal government dissolved it in the mid-1940s in favor of letting the state handle law enforcement. Tribal historian Johnathan Buffalo said the three officers at that time functioned as federal marshals when they were on the settlement. The Sheriff's Department had offered a contract that would fund two deputies for two years at $118,000 a year. The Meskwakis' latest offer was $75,000 a year for two deputies. Kucera said that level of funding would include only $3,000 for fuel and no insurance for the deputies. Last year, the settlement paid $141,000 to the Sheriff's Department for protection with $25,000 coming from the Iowa Legislature. There was no state appropriation this year. The tribe wanted the sheriff to patrol all settlement roads and the Meskwaki Bingo-Casino-Hotel parking lot.
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