PREAMBLEWe, the peoplePeople of the Cherokee Nation, in order to preserve our sovereignty, enrich our culture, achieve and maintain a desirable measure of prosperity, and the blessings of freedom, acknowledging, with humility and gratitude, the goodness, aid and guidance of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in permitting us to do so, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the government of the Cherokee Nation.
Article I. Federal Relationship
The Cherokee Nation reaffirms its sovereignty and mutually beneficial relationship with the United States of America.
Article II. Territorial Jurisdiction.
The boundaries of the Cherokee Nation territory shall be those described by the patents of 1838 and 1846 diminished only by the Treaty of July 19, 1866, and the Act of March 3, 1893.
Article IIIII. Bill of Rights.
The People of the Cherokee Nation shall have and do affirm the following rights:
Section 1. The judicial process of the Cherokee Nation shall be open to every person and entity within the jurisdiction of the Cherokee Nation. Speedy and certain remedy, and equal protection, shall be afforded under the laws of the Cherokee Nation.
Section 2. In all criminal proceedings, the accused shall have the right: to: counsel; of confrontingconfront all adverse witnesses; of havinghave compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in favor of the accused; and, to a speedy public trial, by an impartial jury. The accused shall have the privilege against self-incrimination; and the Cherokee Nation shall not twice try or punish an accused for the same offense. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.
Section 3. The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate, and the Cherokee Nation shall not deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.
Section 4. The Council shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press, or the right of the peoplePeople to peaceably assemble, andor to petition the Nation for a redress of grievances.
Article IIIIV. Citizenship
Section 1. All citizens of the Cherokee Nation must be original enrollees or descendants of original enrollees listed on the Dawes Commission Rolls, including the Delaware Cherokees of Article II of the Delaware Agreement dated the 8th day of May, 1867, and the Shawnee Cherokees as of Article III of the Shawnee Agreement dated the 9th day of June, 1869, and/or their descendants.
The Cherokee Nation recognizes the basic rights retained by all distinct peoplePeople and groups affiliated with the Cherokee Nation, retained from time immemorial, to remain a separate and distinct peoplePeople. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the right of the Cherokee-Shawnee or Delaware-Cherokee from pursuing their inherent right to govern themselves, provided that it does not diminish the historical boundaries or jurisdiction of the Cherokee Nation or conflict with Cherokee law.
Section 2. There shall be established a Cherokee Register, to be kept by the Registrar, for the inclusion of any Cherokee for citizenship purposes in the Cherokee Nation who presents the necessary evidence of eligibility for registration. The Council may empower the Registrar to keep and maintain other vital records.
(a) A Registration Committee shall be established. It shall be the duty of the Registration Committee to consider the qualifications and to determine the eligibility of those applying to have their names entered in the Cherokee Register. The Registration Committee shall consist of a Registrar and two (2) assistants. All members shall be appointed by the Principal Chief, and confirmed by the Council.
(b) There shall be a number assigned to every name, which is approved and entered into the Cherokee Register. This number shall be preceded by the three words, "Cherokee Registry Number."
(c) The decisions of the Registration Committee shall be subject to de novo review by the lower courts created by Article VIIVIII.
Section 3. Registration as used in this articleArticle refers to the process of enrolling as a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and is not the same as the registration for voting purposes.
Article IVV. Distribution of Powers
The powers of the government of the Cherokee Nation shall be divided into three (3) separate branches: Legislative, Executive and Judicial; and except as provided in this Constitution, the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of government shall be separate and distinct and neitherno branch shall exercise the powers properly belonging to either of the others.
Article VVI. Legislative
Section 1. The legislature shall consist of one legislative body to be called the Council of the Cherokee Nation.
Section 2. The Council shall establish its rules for its credentials, decorum, and procedure, and shall elect a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker from its own membership to officiate over Council meetings. The Speaker may exercise his or her vote in all matters before the Council. The Speaker shall be third in line of succession to serve as Acting Principal Chief in case of removal, death, resignation or disability of both the Principal Chief and Deputy Principal Chief until the disability be removed or a successor shall be elected.
Section 3. The Council shall consist of seventeen (17) members, who are citizens by blood of the Cherokee Nation. Any citizen by blood of the Cherokee Nation at least twenty-five (25) years of age on that date of the election may be a candidate for the Council. Each Council member shall be elected in the general election for a term of four (4) years and until his or her successor is duly elected and installed. All Council Membersmembers shall be limited to Twotwo (2) consecutive elected terms on the Council. All Council members having served two consecutive terms must sit out one (1) term before seeking any seat on the Council.
The Council shall establish representative districts which shall be within the historical boundaries of the Cherokee Nation. Fifteen of these seats shall be apportioned to afford a reasonably equal division of tribal citizenship among the districts, and the remaining two shall be elected at-large by those registered voters residingdomiciled outside the historical boundaries of the Cherokee Nation voting at-large in accordance with this section.
The Council members representing districts within the boundaries must be domiciled within their district. The Council shall, within sixty (60) days of this Constitution taking effect, select the two at-large Council members to serve until the next regularly scheduled election.
All registered voters domiciled outside the historical boundaryboundaries of the Cherokee Nation, may, at the time of the first election to fill at-large councilCouncil seats, choose to continue to be registered to vote in the district in which they were previously registered. In the absence of making that choice, they shall be registered to vote at-large. Notwithstanding the above, citizens under the age of twenty-five (25) who are residingdomiciled outside the historical boundary of the Cherokee Nationboundaries and who have not previously registered to vote, may make a single choice to register to vote in the district of their choice at the time of their first registration, failing which their registration shall be to vote at-large. All citizens age twenty-five (25) or older domiciled outside the historical boundary of the Cherokee Nationboundaries not registered to vote at the time of the first election to fill at-large Council seats may only register to vote at-large. Citizens domiciled outside the historical boundaryboundaries who relocate to reside within a district shall be subject to the requirements to vote in that district. Those residing within the historical boundaries must vote within the district of their residence. The Councilors representing districts within the historical boundaries must be domiciled within their district. The Council shall, within 60 days of this Constitution taking effect, select the two at-large Councilors to serve until the next regularly scheduled election.
The Council shall, within one year of this Constitution taking effect, establish a system of staggered terms for all seats on the Council to be organized into elections every two years.
Section 4. There shall be at least one regular session of the Council in the calendar year which shall convene on the second Monday in each January or at such other date as the Council shall determine. No business shall be conducted by the Council unless at least two-thirds (2/3) of members thereof regularly elected and qualified shall be in attendance, which number shall constitute a quorum. The session may not exceed a maximum of thirty (30) calendar days for pay purposes.
Section 5. Special meetings of the Council may be called: (A) by the Principal Chief, (B) by the Deputy Principal Chief when he or she has the full powers of the Principal Chief as elsewhere defined, (C) upon written request of fifty-one percent (51%) of the members of the Council, or (D) upon the written request of ten percent (10%) of the number of registered voters who voted in the last general election of the Cherokee Nation. The purposes of said meeting shall be stated in a notice published not less that ten (10) days prior to the meeting, and the Council may not consider any other subject not within such purposes. No special meetings may convene until thirty (30) days have elapsed after the adjournment of a prior session or meeting, unless called pursuant to all of the above.
Section 6. All meetings of the Council and of its committees shall be open to the public except: (A) Whenwhen the discussion shall concern employment, retention or discharge of personnel; (B) Whenwhen the question of the moral turpitude of any citizen is discussed; and (C) Whenwhen the decorum of the audience shall prejudice orderly administration of business. In the event that consideration of a subject shall take place in Executiveexecutive session, the vote shall take place in an open meeting.
Section 7. The Council shall have the power to establish laws which it shall deem necessary and proper for the good of the Nation, which shall not be contrary to the provisions of this Constitution. The style of all bills shall be: "Be It Enacted By The Cherokee Nation". The style of all resolutions shall be "Be It Resolved By The Cherokee Nation".
Section 8. No laws passed by the Council shall have retroactive effect or operation.
Section 9. The Council shall have the power to remove elected and appointed officials in the Cherokee Nation and said removal must be conducted in accordance with Article XXI of this Constitution.
Section 10. Every enactment which shall have been approved by a majority of the members in attendance at the Council shall, before it becomes effective be presented to the Principal Chief, if he or she approves, he or she shall signwho may approve the enactment by signing it; if not, he or shethe Principal Chief shall return it with his or her objections to the Council, which shall enter the objections in the Journal and proceed to reconsider it. If, after such reconsideration, two-thirds (2/3) of the entire council shall agree to pass the enactment, it shall become fully effective and operational notwithstanding the objections of veto of the Principal Chief. In all such cases, the vote of the Council shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the members voting shall be entered on the Council's Journal. If any enactment shall not be returned by the Principal Chief within five (5) days (Sundays and holidays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him or her, the same shall be law in like manner as if he or she had signed it.approved by the Principal Chief. Members of the Council and all Executive Officers shall be bound by oath, provided in Article XIIXIII, to support the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation, do everything within the individual's power to promote the culture, heritage and traditions of the Cherokee Nation and to perform the duties of their respective offices with fidelity.
Section 11. The Council shall establish a continuing system of permanent publication for all laws of the Cherokee Nation and judicial opinions of the highest appellate court. The system shall provide for regular updating, indexing and digesting and shall be of public record at all times. The text of all laws, resolutions, judicial opinions and orders, except otherwise protected by law, and all other governmental publications, except those by government-ownedNation-owned entities, shall be in the public domain and free from encumbrances against use by the Citizens. This shall not constrain the governmentNation from copyrighting other aspects of governmental publications, except that citizens shall always have license for personal use of the copyrighted work without notice or fee.
Section 12. In accordance with Article 12 of the Treaty with the Cherokees, dated November 28, 1785 (Treaty of Hopewell), and Article 7 of the Treaty with the Cherokees dated December 29, 1835 (Treaty of New Echota), there shall be created the office of Delegate to the United States House of Representatives, appointed by the Principal Chief and confirmed by the Council and who. The Delegate shall be a citizen of the Nation and upon recognition by the United States shall be seated in accordance with federal law. The Delegate to the United States House of Representatives shall endeavor to participate in congressional activities and shall at all times advocate the best interests of the Cherokee peoplePeople. The Delegate to the United States House of Representatives shall make regular reports to the Council and Principal Chief on congressional activities and administrative matters relating to federal law and policy and shall produce an annual report to the Cherokee peoplePeople.
Section 13. In the case of removal, death, resignation or disability of any of its members theCouncil member, such seat shall be filled by the candidate having the next highest number of votes in that district, who is available and willing to serve and whose eligibility is confirmed by the election commission, who is available and willing to serve.Election Commission. In the event no such candidate exists, then the Council shall fill the vacated seat in the following manner: If a majority of the office's four-year term remains to be served, the Council shall authorize a special election in the district of the vacated seat to be conducted within ninety days; if a minority of the office's four-year term remains to be served, the Council shall elect a replacement who would otherwise be qualified to serve from the district of the vacated seat.
Article VIVII. Executive
Section 1. The executive power shall be vested in a Principal Chief, who shall be styled "The Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation". The Principal Chief shall hold his or her office for thea term of four (4) years. No person having been elected to the office of Principal Chief in two (2) consecutive elections shall be eligible to file for the office of Principal Chief in the election next following his or her second term of office. The Principal Chief shall be elected by the registered voters on the same day and in the same manner, except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, as they shall respectively vote for members of the Council for that particular yearin the year 2003 and every four years thereafter. The Principal Chief shall be elected by a majority of votes. The manner of determining contested elections shall be as directed by Cherokee law.
Section 2. The Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation shall be a citizen of the Cherokee Nation in accordance with Article IIIIV; shall be domiciled within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation for no less than 270 days immediately preceedingpreceding the day of general election in which he or she was electedseeks election; and, shall have obtained the age of thirty (30) years at the time of his or her election and be a citizen by blood of the Cherokee Nation.
Section 3. The registered voters shall elect a Deputy Principal Chief, who shall possess the same qualifications as the Principal Chief, for a term of four (4) years at the same time and in the same manner as herein provided for the election of the Principal Chief. The Deputy Chief shall be subject to the same term limitations as provided for the Principal Chief in this Constitution.
Section 4. In case of the absence of the Principal Chief from office due to his or her death, resignation, removal or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve upon the Deputy Principal Chief for the remaining portion of the four (4) year term to which the Principal Chief hashad been elected. In case of disability, such powers shall continue during the term of such disability.
In the event of the death, resignation, or removal of the Deputy Principal Chief, or his or her inability to discharge the powers and duties of the office, the person who is then the Speaker of the Council shall succeed to the office of the Deputy Principal Chief for the balance of the term. In the case of temporary disability, said person shall serve as Acting Deputy Principal Chief for the duration of the disability and thereafter shall reassume the office of Speaker.
Section 5. The Council may, in the case of removal, death, resignation or disability of the Principal Chief, Deputy Principal Chief and the Speaker of the Council, provide by law what officer shall then act as Principal Chief until the disability be removed or a successor shall be elected.
Section 6. The Principal Chief and Deputy Principal Chief shall, at stated times, receive for their service a compensation not inconsistent with Article IXX.
Section 7. The Principal Chief may, on extraordinary occasions, convene the Council at the seat of government pursuant to Article VVI, Section 5, and such notice and other laws as may be prescribed by the Council. The purposepurposes of said meetings must be stated and the Council may consider only such matters as are specified in the call of the extraordinary meetings. Before the extraordinary meetings may be legally sufficient to conduct business, a quorum of the Council must be present.
Section 8. At one session of the Council annually, the Principal Chief shall deliver and communicate by message, delivered to the Council a message upon the condition of the Cherokee Nation; and shall recommend such matters to the Council as he or she shall judge expedient.
Section 9. The Principal Chief shall cause the laws of the Cherokee Nation to be faithfully executed, and shall conduct in person and in such manner as shall be prescribed by law, all communications and business of the Cherokee Nation. The Principal Chief may cause to be formed and operated, trusts, the beneficiary of which shall be the Cherokee Nation and these trusts shall be granted such powers as provided by law for public trusts. Authorization for these trusts, however, must be approved by a majority vote of the Council.
Section 10. The Deputy Principal Chief shall, by virtue of the office, aid and advise the Principal Chief in the administration of the government.
Section 11. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed as preventing the Principal Chief from employing such administrative assistants as he or she deems proper.
Section 12. There shall be a cabinet composed of the following persons who shall be citizens of the Cherokee Nation: (1) Secretary of State, (2) Treasurer, (3) Secretary of Natural Resources. These persons shall be appointed by the Principal Chief and confirmed by the Council. The Council, on recommendation of the Principal Chief only, may create additional cabinet positions and departments. The Principal Chief shall prescribe the duties and responsibilities of cabinet members. Cabinet members shall be authorized to appoint such staff and other assistants as they deem necessary. The Council may, with recommendation of the Principal Chief, abolish any established cabinet position or function or revise the title or responsibilities of any foregoing department or function.
Section 13. There shall be created an office of Attorney General. The Attorney General shall be a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and be, admitted to the practice of law before the highest court of aany state of the United States. The Attorney General shall represent the Nation in all criminal cases in the courts of the Nation, and in all civil actions wherein the Cherokee Nation is named as a party, and shall have such other duties as the Council may prescribe by law. The Attorney General shall be appointed by the Principal Chief and confirmed by the Council. The Attorney General shall serve for a term of five (5) years. The Attorney General shall be authorized to designate such prosecutors and other assistants as deemed necessary to carry out the duties of office. The Attorney General, and may only be removed from office in conformance with Article XXI.
ectionSection 14. There shall be created an office of Marshal. The Marshal shall be a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and possess such training and experience in law enforcement as prescribed by law. The duties and authority of the Marshal shall be prescribed by law. The Marshal shall be authorized to deputize such officers as necessary to carry out the law enforcement needs of the Cherokee Nation. The Marshal shall be appointed by the Principal Chief and be confirmed by the Council for a term of five (5) years. The terms of the Marshal and the Attorney General will not be concurrent. The Marshal may only be removed from office in conformance with Article XXI.
The terms of the Marshal and the Attorney General shall not be concurrent.
Section 15. A vacancy of an elected office by reason of removal, death, resignation or disability of the elected official, for which this Constitution does not provide a process for seating a replacement to serve out the term, shall be filled by appointment by the Principal Chief with confirmation by the Council.