What is sovereignty?

By David cornsilk
April 11 2008


As the appointed chief, then called an Emperor, became more normalized and acceptable, sovereignty was extended to the position from the people. Prior to that, it was not uncommon for the people to simply ignore the Emperor and his decisions. Sovereignty continued to rest with the people, in spite of what appeared to be an operating central government.

When this form of government became too autocratic and unresponsive to the people's needs, another period of non government took place. During this time, the people met and withdrew the sovereignty they had extended to the Emperor, and re delegated it to an elected Principal Chief. This was accomplished through a constitution passed in 1827.

During those terrible times for the Cherokees, many moved west and organized their own government. They had a primitive government based on a Principal Chief and his assistants. These Cherokees, commonly called Old Settlers, had retained sovereignty within themselves when they left the east and then delegated it to their government upon arrival in the west.  

When the Cherokee Nation was forcibly removed from the Eastern homeland, the old government of the Cherokee Nation ceased to exist. All that remained were "leaders." John Ross was no longer Principal Chief and the council no longer had legislative authority. The people followed Ross because of his charismatic leadership, not because they were required to by law.

The sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation, which had been delegated to the government in 1827 through a constitution, was now back in the hands of its rightful owners, the masses of Cherokee refugees. And by the same token, when the larger body of Eastern Cherokee emigrants arrived in the western territory, the Old Settlers lost their government as well. In the scheme of things, a representative government, elected by a minority, cannot exist in the face of majority opposition In this way, no government existed in the Cherokee Nation west. All of the sovereignty which had been carefully delegated to both governments had unceremoniously reverted to its original owners, the Cherokee people.

Understanding this phenomenon, the leaders of the Cherokee people, both Old Settlers and emigrants, created a new government. This new government was given its credentials through the adoption of the 1839 Constitution. Thus, the restored sovereignty of the Cherokee people was once again delegated to a centralized government which could and would lead the people for nearly a century.

Now, we have a situation where no legitimate government exists for the Cherokee people. One would think that sovereignty, the hallmark of the people's right to govern themselves, has reverted into the hands of its rightful owners, the Cherokee people. This is not the case.

Remembering that in 1839, the Cherokee people delegated the right to govern from themselves to a legitimate government. And that delegation has never been rescinded. The institutions of government have remained vacant for many years. The exercise of sovereignty by any form of legitimate government has been lacking. Meanwhile, a usurper government has arisen we know as the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (CNO).

This usurper government, missing the key ingredients of sovereignty, can do nothing but pretend to govern, which all the while, being supported and succored by foreign governments bent on destroying the Cherokee Nation and oppressing the Cherokee people.

When the institutions of government, proscribed by a constitution, are missing, it is the duty and obligation of the people to fill them or reorganize. To do the former would restore the Cherokee Nation to its rightful position of self governance. To do the latter would subject the Cherokee people to whims of a paternalistic and domineering foreign government.

The Cherokee people except for the UKB, and the EBC have not in this century reorganized their government. Nor have they properly restored the institutions of government proscribed by their documented delegation to govern, the 1839 Constitution; Therefore it is incumbent upon the leaders of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (CNO), or the people themselves to do it, so the Great Nation of the Cherokee may once again live as a government of, by and for the Cherokee people.