Constitution of the Cherokee Nation
We, the People 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 III. Bill of Rights
The People of the Cherokee Nation shall have and do affirm the
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; confront all adverse witnesses; have 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 People to peaceably assemble, or to petition the Nation
for a redress of grievances.
Article IV. 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 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 People and groups affiliated with the Cherokee Nation,
retained from time immemorial, to remain a separate and distinct
People. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the
Cherokee-Shawnee or Delaware-Cherokee from pursuing their inherent
right to govern themselves, provided that it does not diminish the
boundaries or jurisdiction of the Cherokee Nation or conflict with
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 VIII.
Section 3. Registration as used in this Article refers to the process
of enrolling as a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and is not the same as
registration for voting purposes.
Article V. 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
no branch shall exercise the powers properly belonging to either of the
Article VI. 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 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 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 members shall be limited to two (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 boundaries of the Cherokee Nation. Fifteen of these seats
shall be apportioned to afford a reasonably equal division of
citizenship among the districts, and the remaining two shall be elected
at-large by those registered voters residing outside the 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 residing outside the boundaries of the Cherokee
Nation, may, at the time of the first election to fill at-large Council
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 reside outside
the boundaries 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
residing outside the boundaries 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 residing outside the boundaries who relocate
within a district shall be subject to the requirements to vote in that
district. Those residing within the boundaries must vote within the
district of their residence.
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 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 meetings may convene until thirty (30) days have elapsed
after the adjournment of a prior session or meeting, unless called
pursuant to Section 7 of Article VII.
Section 6. All meetings of the Council and of its committees shall be
open to the public except: (A) when the discussion shall concern
employment, retention or discharge of personnel; (B) when the question
of the moral turpitude of any citizen is discussed; and (C) when the
decorum of the audience shall prejudice orderly administration of
business. In the event that consideration of a subject shall take place
in executive 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
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 XI 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, who may approve
the enactment by signing it; if not, the Principal Chief shall return
it with 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, the same shall be law in like
manner as if approved by the Principal Chief.
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 Nation-owned entities, shall be in the
public domain and free from encumbrances against use by the Citizens.
This shall not constrain the Nation 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. 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 shall endeavor to participate in
congressional activities and shall at all times advocate the best
interests of the Cherokee People. The Delegate 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 People.
Section 13. In the case of removal, death, resignation or disability of
any of Council 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. In the event no such candidate exists, the
Council shall fill the vacated seat in the following manner: If a
majority of the 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 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.
Section 14. Members of the Council and all Executive Officers shall be
bound by oath, provided in Article XIII, to support the Constitutions
of the Cherokee Nation and the United States of America, 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
Article VII. 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 office for a 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 in 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 IV; shall be
domiciled within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation for no less than
270 days immediately preceding the day of general election in which he
or she seeks 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 death, resignation, removal or inability to discharge the powers
and duties of the 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 had 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
Section 6. The Principal Chief and Deputy Principal Chief shall, at
stated times, receive for their service a compensation not inconsistent
with Article X.
Section 7. The Principal Chief may, on extraordinary occasions, convene
the Council at the seat of government pursuant to Article VI, Section
5, and such notice and other laws as may be prescribed by the Council.
The purposes 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
Section 8. At one session of the Council annually, the Principal Chief
shall deliver and communicate 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
Section 11. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed as
preventing the Principal Chief from employing such administrative
assistants as 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
Section 13. There shall be created an office of Attorney General. The
Attorney General shall be a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, admitted to
practice law before the highest court of any 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 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, and may only be removed from office in
conformance with Article XI.
Section 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 Marshal may only be removed from office in
conformance with Article XI.
The terms of the Marshal and the Attorney General shall not be
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.
Article VIII. Judicial
Section 1. The Judicial powers of the Cherokee Nation shall be vested
in a Supreme Court and such lower courts as the Council shall from
time-to-time ordain and establish. The Judicial Appeals Tribunal shall
become known as the Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation. The Supreme
Court shall be composed of five (5) members all of whom must be
citizens of the Cherokee Nation and be admitted to practice law before
the highest Court of any state of the United States.
Section 2. Justices of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the
Principal Chief and confirmed by the Council to serve terms of ten (10)
years each after expiration of the initial terms as follows: Seat 1:
ending 12/31/2000, Seat 2: ending 12/31/2002, Seat 3: ending
12/31/2004, Seat 4: ending 12/31/2006, Seat 5: ending 12/31/2008. An
appointment to the Supreme Court shall take place once every two (2)
years, except in the case of filling a vacated seat on the Court for
the remainder of that term. The Council shall, within six (6) months of
this Constitution taking effect, pass such laws as are necessary for
carrying into effect the provisions of this section.
Section 3. Judges of the District Court shall be citizens of the
Cherokee Nation, and shall be admitted to practice law before the
highest Court of any state of the United States, and shall be appointed
by the Principal Chief and confirmed by the Council to serve terms of
four (4) years each. In the event of a judicial vacancy due to death,
resignation, or removal from said office, any successor duly appointed
and confirmed shall only serve the balance of the term of the vacancy
Section 4. The original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court shall extend
to a general supervisory control over all lower courts. General
supervisory control does not include suspension, removal, or
disciplinary action of any member of the judiciary. These powers are
specifically reserved for the Court on the Judiciary as prescribed in
Section 5 and/or Article XI.
The Supreme Court shall employ an Administrator, who shall have general
administrative duties in the judicial branch. The Justices of the
Supreme Court shall have supervisory authority over the Administrator.
In support of its original and appellate jurisdiction, the Supreme
Court shall have power to issue, hear and determine writs of habeas
corpus, mandamus, quo warranto, certiorari, prohibition and such other
remedial writs as may be provided by law and may exercise such other
jurisdiction as may be conferred by statute. The appellate jurisdiction
of the Supreme Court shall extend to all cases at law and in equity
arising under the laws or Constitution of the Cherokee Nation.
The Supreme Court shall promulgate rules of procedure relating to its
original and appellate jurisdiction to insure any litigant appearing
before it receives due process of law and impartial justice, together
with prompt and speedy relief. Decisions of the Supreme Court shall be
published and indexed and shall be final insofar as the judicial
process of the Cherokee Nation is concerned.
Section 5. There is hereby created a Court on the Judiciary. Each
branch of the government shall select two members of the Court; one of
whom shall be a member of the Cherokee Nation Bar Association and the
other shall be a non-lawyer. The six members shall appoint a seventh
member. The members of the Court on the Judiciary shall promulgate its
own rules of procedure, assuring due process, to be submitted to the
Council for review and approval. The authority of the Court shall
include suspension, sanction, discipline or recommendation of removal.
The members shall not be employees of the Cherokee Nation or any
entities thereof. The Council shall pass such laws as are necessary for
carrying into effect the provisions of this section. All members of the
Court shall be citizens of the Cherokee Nation.
Section 6. The District Courts of the Cherokee Nation shall be courts
of general jurisdiction and shall be vested with original jurisdiction,
not otherwise reserved to the Supreme Court, to hear and resolve
disputes arising under the laws or Constitution of the Cherokee Nation
in both law and equity, whether criminal or civil in nature. The
Council shall enact, with advice from the judiciary, rules of procedure
which shall insure that all litigants receive due process of law and
impartial justice, together with prompt and speedy relief.
Section 7. The Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of the District
Court shall receive a compensation which shall not be diminished during
their continuance in office, but shall receive no other fee, gratuity
or perquisite of office, nor hold any other position of title, trust or
profit within the Cherokee Nation or any entity thereof, either
directly or indirectly.
Section 8. Members of the judiciary shall be subject to removal from
office only for willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, habitual
drunkenness, incompetency or any conviction of a felony, a crime under
the laws of the Cherokee Nation that if committed in some other
jurisdiction would be a felony, or a misdemeanor involving moral
turpitude or offenses against the Cherokee Nation committed while in
Article IX. Election
Section 1. There is hereby created a Cherokee Nation Election
Commission. The Commission shall be an autonomous and permanent entity
charged with the administration of all Cherokee Nation elections, in
accordance with election laws. The Council shall enact an appropriate
law not inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution that will
govern the conduct of all elections.
Section 2 No person who shall have been convicted of a felony charge
under the laws of United States, or of any State, Territory, or
Possession thereof, or a crime under the laws of the Cherokee Nation
that if committed in some other jurisdiction would be a felony, shall
be eligible to hold any office or appointment of honor, profit or trust
within this Nation unless such person has received a pardon from the
appropriate jurisdiction. Any person who holds any office of honor,
profit or trust in any other tribe or Nation of American Indians,
either elective or appointive shall be ineligible to hold
simultaneously any office of honor, profit or trust of the Cherokee
Nation unless approved by the Council.
Section 3. All elections shall be determined by secret balloting.
Article X. Fiscal
Section 1. The fiscal year shall commence on the first day of October
in each year, unless otherwise provided by law.
Section 2. The Council shall provide by law for annual expenditure of
funds, and the source from which funds are to be derived, to defray the
estimated expenses of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches
and the departments of government of the Cherokee Nation for each
fiscal year. The budget shall not exceed estimated revenues.
Section 3. At least forty-five (45) days prior to the beginning of each
fiscal year, the Treasurer shall cause to be made and presented to the
Council an itemized estimate of revenues and expenditures for the
ensuing fiscal year adhering to Generally Accepted Accounting
Section 4. The Council shall require that records be maintained and
provided to the Council of all funds, monies, accounts and indebtedness
and all other accounts bearing upon the fiscal interests, including but
not limited to, any and all outside business interests, both for-profit
and not-for-profit, of the Cherokee Nation by the use of an accounting
system adhering to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). The
annual financial statement shall be audited by a Certified Public
Accountant and presented to the Council within six months following the
end of each fiscal year. Unaudited reports will be submitted as
required by the Council.
Section 5. The Treasurer shall be authorized to accept all grants,
donations of money, interest of funds of the Cherokee Nation, judgments
and any and all other sources of monies available to the Cherokee
Nation, for uses and purposes and upon the conditions and limitations
for which the same are granted or donated. The faith of the Cherokee
Nation is hereby pledged to preserve such grants and donations as a
sacred trust, and, if or when designated, to keep the same for the use
and purposes for which they were granted or donated.
Section 6. The Council shall authorize the Treasurer to invest funds or
money of the Cherokee Nation and determine the preference to be given
to the security for such investments, the manner of selecting the
securities, prescribing the rules, regulations, restrictions and
conditions upon which the funds shall be loaned or invested, provided
that no investment shall be in mortgages other than first mortgages
only, and do all things necessary for the safety of the funds and
permanence of the investments. If required by law, such investments
would be subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior.
Section 7. The credit of the Cherokee Nation shall not be given,
pledged, or loaned to any individual, firm, company, corporation, or
association without the approval of the Council. The Cherokee Nation
shall not make any donations by gift, bonus, or otherwise, to any
individual, firm, company, corporation, or association without the
approval of the Council.
Section 8. All laws authorizing the expenditures of money by and on
behalf of the Cherokee Nation shall specify the purpose for which the
money is to be used, and the money so designated shall be used for no
other purpose. No monies or resources of the Cherokee Nation or any of
its entities shall be used to pay for representation of a defendant in
a criminal matter, except where a public defender is authorized under
Cherokee law. Annual expenditures shall not exceed the available funds.
Section 9. General laws shall be enacted by the Council providing for
the deposit of funds of the Cherokee Nation, and the depository
thereof, and such funds shall be under the control of the Treasurer,
under such terms and conditions as shall be designated by the Council
and under such laws which shall provide for the protection of said
Section 10. No official, member or officer of the Council, Cabinet
Member, employee of any official, Council, Cabinet, or subdivisions
thereof, or any person employed in any capacity by the Cherokee Nation
shall receive from any individual, partnership, corporation, or entity
doing business with the Cherokee Nation directly or indirectly, any
interest, profit, benefits or gratuity, other than wages, salary, per
diem, or expenses specifically provided by law.
Section 11. All officers, elected or appointed, who are authorized by
this Constitution or any subsequent legislation to a position of trust
over any land, property, accounts or monies, shall execute an official
surety bond in the amount as may be required by the Council. Such
surety bonds shall inure to the benefit of, and be paid for by, the
Cherokee Nation for whose protection or surety the same shall be
required. In no event shall said surety bond be other than by a
Licensed Insurance Company, authorized to do business in the State of
Article XI. Removal From Office
Section 1. The Principal Chief, Deputy Principal Chief, members of the
Council, Attorney General and Marshal shall be subject to removal from
office for willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, habitual
drunkenness, incompetency or any conviction of a felony, or a crime
under the laws of the Cherokee Nation that if committed in some other
jurisdiction would be a felony, or a misdemeanor involving moral
turpitude or offenses against the Cherokee Nation committed while in
Section 2. Except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, all other
appointed officials shall be subject to removal for cause, as
prescribed by law.
Section 3. No official may be removed under Sections 1 or 2 of this
Article or Section 8 of Article VIII except after trial before the
Council, with the accused having been afforded due process and
opportunity to be heard. Provided, removal under Sections 1 or 2 of
this Article or Section 8 of Article VIII shall require a two-thirds
(2/3) vote of the members of the Council.
Section 4. Separate from the Council's removal powers, the People of
the Cherokee Nation reserve unto themselves the exclusive power to
recall any elected official through petition and recall referendum. A
petition must be signed by Cherokee citizens registered to vote. In the
case of Principal Chief or Deputy Principal Chief, signatures must
total a number equaling or exceeding fifteen percent (15%) of the total
number of registered voters in the previous general election. In the
case of district offices, signatures must total the greater of five
hundred (500) or twenty-five percent (25%) of the total number of
registered voters in that district in the previous general election.
The signed petition shall be filed with the Election Commission to
determine whether the signatures are valid. Said determination shall be
made within thirty (30) days after the filing of same. Upon
verification of the requisite number of signatures the Election
Commission shall certify the petition as valid and notify the Council
and the Secretary of State. Upon notification of a valid certified
petition the Council shall immediately call for and approve a special
recall election for the office in question within sixty (60) days. The
special recall election shall be limited in scope to the voting
populous for the elected office in question. Votes casts shall be
tabulated and the results certified in the same manner as in general
elections. A majority vote to affirm the official shall retain the
official in office. A majority vote to recall shall immediately remove
the official from office. In the event of a tie-vote the Council shall
call a special meeting to conduct a tie-breaking vote. Elected offices
vacated under this section shall be filled as otherwise provided in
Article XII. Employee Rights
No employee, who having served in a position at least one (1) year,
shall be removed from the employment of the Cherokee Nation except for
cause, and only after being afforded pre-termination due process.
Provided, the right of such employee to seek redress in the Cherokee
Nation courts shall not be abridged.
Article XIII. Oath
Section 1. All officers elected or appointed shall, before entering
upon the duties of their respective offices, take and subscribe to the
following oath or affirmation: "I do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I
will faithfully execute the duties of ________________ of the Cherokee
Nation, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and
defend the Constitutions of the Cherokee Nation, and the United States
of America. I swear or affirm further, that I will do everything within
my power to promote the culture, heritage and traditions of the
Section 2. The foregoing oath shall be administered by any person
authorized by the Council to administer oaths. The oath shall be filed
in the Office of the Secretary of State.
Article XIV. Clans
Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the right
of any Cherokee to belong to a recognized clan or organization in the
Article XV. Initiative, Referendum and Amendment
Section 1. Notwithstanding the provisions of Article VI, the People of
the Cherokee Nation reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and
amendments to this Constitution and to enact or reject the same at the
polls independent of the Council, and also reserve power at their own
option to approve or reject at the polls any act of the Council.
Section 2. Any amendment or amendments to this Constitution may be
proposed by the Council, and if the same shall be agreed to by a
majority of all the members of the Council, such proposed amendment or
amendments shall, with the yeas and nays thereon, be entered into the
Journal and referred by the Secretary of State to the People for their
approval or rejection, at the next regular general election, except
when the Council, by a two-thirds (2/3) vote, shall order a special
election for that purpose. If a majority of all the registered voters
voting at such election shall vote in favor of any amendment thereto,
it shall thereby become a part of this Constitution.
Section 3. The first power reserved by the People of the Cherokee
Nation is the initiative, and ten percent (10%) of the registered
voters shall have the right to propose any legislative measures by
petition and fifteen percent (15%) of the registered voters shall have
the right to propose amendments to the Constitution by petition, and
every such petition shall include the full text of the measure so
The second power is the referendum, and it may be ordered (except as to
laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace,
health or safety), either by petition signed by five percent (5%) of
the registered voters or by the Council as other enactments are
effectuated. The ratio and percent of registered voters hereinbefore
stated shall be based upon the total number of votes cast in the last
general election involving the office of Principal Chief.
Section 4. Referendum petitions shall be filed with the Secretary of
State not more than ninety (90) days after the final adjournment of the
session or meeting of the Council which passed the bill on which the
referendum is demanded. The veto power of the Principal Chief shall not
extend to measures voted on by the People. All elections on measures
referred to the People of the Cherokee Nation shall be had at the next
regular general election except when the Council or the Principal Chief
shall order a special election for the express purpose of making such
reference. Any measure referred to the People by the initiative shall
take effect and be in force when it shall have been approved by a
majority of the votes cast thereon.
Section 5. Petitions and orders for the initiative and for the
referendum shall be filed with the Secretary of State and addressed to
the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, who shall submit the same
to the People. The Council shall make suitable provisions for carrying
into effect the provisions of this Article.
Section 6. The referendum may be demanded by the People against one or
more items, sections or parts of any enactment of the Council in the
same manner in which such power may be exercised against a complete
enactment. The filing of a referendum petition against one or more
items, sections or parts of an enactment shall not delay the remainder
of such act from becoming operative.
Section 7. If two or more amendments are proposed they shall be
submitted in such manner that registered voters may vote for or against
Section 8. No proposal for the amendment of this Constitution which is
submitted to the voters shall embrace more than one general subject and
the voters shall vote separately for or against each proposal
submitted; provided, however, that in the submission of proposals for
the amendment of this Constitution by articles, which embrace a general
subject, each proposed article shall be deemed a single proposal or
Section 9. No convention shall be called by the Council to propose a
new Constitution, unless the law providing for such convention shall
first be approved by the People on a referendum vote at a regular or
special election. Any amendments, alterations, revisions or new
Constitution, proposed by such convention, shall be submitted to the
registered voters of the Cherokee Nation at a general or special
election and be approved by a majority of the registered voters voting
thereon before the same shall become effective. The question of such
proposed convention shall be submitted to the citizens of the Cherokee
Nation at least once every twenty (20) years.
Article XVI. Supersedes Constitutions of 1839 and 1976
The provisions of this Constitution overrule, supersede, and repeal the
provisions of the Cherokee Nation Constitution enacted the 6th day of
September, 1839, and the provisions of the Constitution of the Cherokee
Nation of Oklahoma enacted the 26th day of June, 1976.
Article XVII. Seat of Government
The Seat of Government of the Cherokee Nation shall be at Tahlequah,
Article XVIII. Adoption
This Constitution shall become effective when ratified by the
registered voters of the Cherokee Nation. It shall be engrossed on
parchment and signed by the Principal Chief and the President of the
United States, or his authorized representative. It shall be filed in
the office of the Cherokee Nation and sacredly preserved as the
fundamental law of the Cherokee Nation. The Constitution shall be
printed in both Cherokee and English, provided however, that the
English version shall be controlling for all governmental and legal
purposes. The Council shall enact laws in conformance with this
Constitution within eighteen (18) months of its ratification, provided
that the provisions for Article XI shall be enacted within six (6)
months of its ratification.
As Chairman of the 1999 Cherokee Constitution Convention Style
Committee, I hereby certify the foregoing to be a true and accurate
version of the proposed new Constitution of the Cherokee Nation, as
adopted by the Convention Delegates on 3/6/99 and edited and approved
for release by the Convention Style Committee on 7/30/99.
Ralph F Keen II
Style Committee Chairman
Adopted by the Delegates of the 1999 Cherokee Nation
Constitution Convention on March 6, 1999.
Edited and finalized by the Convention Style Committee
on July 30, 1999.