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Tama man is first non-Native American charged under Meskwaki traffic code

Plans Tribal Court Appearance To Contest Speeding Citation

August 25, 2012
By John Speer - Editor , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

A Tama man has become the first person who is not a Native American cited for a traffic violation by Meskwaki Nation Tribal Police with jurisdiction falling to Tribal Court.

Steven Hedum, Tama, was headed home from work on Friday, Sept. 17, shortly after 11 p.m. when he was ticketed for speeding on the U.S. 30 Expressway near the main entrances to the Meskwaki Trading Post and Bingo Casino Hotel west of Toledo. The ticket was issued by Meskwaki Police Officer Mike German.

It has been seemingly customary for all Meskwaki Police traffic cases to be sent to Tama County Magistrate Court in Toledo since establishment of the police force on the Meskwaki Settlement in August, 2006.

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That changed six months ago with the adoption of a Tribal Traffic Code, Sac and Fox Tribal lead prosecutor Mike Marquess told The News-Herald Monday.

Since that time a total of 31 Native Americans and Hedum have been charged with traffic offenses with Tribal Court jurisdiction, Marquess said.

Hedum said this week his issue is not with the Tribal Police or Court jurisdiction. Rather, he maintains he is innocent. He said he plans to appear on his Tribal Court date of Friday, Aug. 31, and contest the charge.

The ticket he received states the scheduled violation costs $50 and court costs are $40 for a total of $90. Hedum was supplied with a pre-addressed envelope for the Clerk of Court, Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, 307 Meskwaki Road, if he wanted to mail payment of the fine.

Hedum account of the traffic stop was he was getting ready to "tap" his brake to disengage the cruise control on his vehicle and drop to 55 mph from 65 mph for the zone by the Meskwaki Trading Post and Bingo Casino Hotel main entrances on the U.S. 30 Expressway west of Toledo. Hedum, 50, commutes to work at Packaging Corporation in Marshalltown and says he customarily follows this procedure.

He said he noticed a westbound vehicle turn around and soon saw flashing lights at which time he pulled to the shoulder for a Meskwaki Nation Tribal Police vehicle.

After a period of time in which Hedum believes the officer was running a routine check on his vehicle and himself, he was issued the ticket by Officer German for allegedly going 69 mph in a 55 zone.

Hedum said he was told by Officer German the charge would not appear on his traffic record.

This was confirmed by Marquis who said no agreement with the Iowa Department of Transportation for traffic violations has yet been put in place.

Marquess said it appears based upon numbers traffic enforcement is not a priority with the Meskwaki Police Department given those relatively few number of cases filed over the six months time span.

Marquess said traffic charges which fall under criminal statues such as driving while license suspended still are handled in Tama Co. Magistrate Court. Those considered "civil cases" such as the speeding or stop sign violations can be handled in Meskwaki Court.



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