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Legislature takes a look at tribal jurisdiction rights

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YAKIMA — 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.

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