Vol. I, No. 1
Thursday, February 21, 1828
Pg. 1, Col. 2a - Pg. 2, Col. 3a
CONSTITUTION OF THE CHEROKEE NATION,
Formed by a Convention of Delegates from the several Districts, at New Echota, July 1827.
WE THE REPRESENTATIVES of the people of the CHEROKEE NATION in Convention assembled, in order to establish justice, ensure tranquility, promote our common welfare, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty, acknowledging with humility and gratitude the goodness of the sovereign Ruler of the Universe, in offering as an opportunity so favorable to the design, and imploring his aid and direction in its accomplishment, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Government of the Cherokee Nation.
Sec. 1. THE BOUNDARIES of this nation, embracing the lands solemnly guarantied and reserved forever to the Cherokee Nation by the Treaties concluded with the United States, are as follows; and shall forever hereafter remain unalterably the same-to wit- Beginning on the North Bank of Tennessee River at the upper part of the Chickasaw old fields; thence along the main channel of said river, including all the islands therein, to the mouth of the Hiwassee River, thence up the main channel of said river, including islands, to the first hill which closes in on said river, about two miles above Hiwassee Old Town; thence along the ridge which divides the waters of the Hiwassee and Little Tellico, to the Tennessee River at Tallasasei, thence along the main channel, including islands, to the junction of the Cowee and Nanteyalee; thence along the ridge in the fork of said river, to the top of the Blue Ridge; thence along the Blue Ridge to the Unicoy Turnpike road; thence by a straight line to the main source of the Chestatee; thence along its main channel, including islands, to the Chattahoochy; and thence down the same to the Creek boundary at Buzzard Roost; thence along the boundary line which separates this and the Creek Nation, to a point on the Coosa River opposite the mouth of Will's Creek; thence down along the south bank of the same to a point opposite to Fort Strother; thence up the river to the mouth of Will's Creek; thence up along the east bank of said creek to the west branch thereof, and up the same to its source; and thence along the ridge which separates the Tombechee and Tennessee waters, to a point on the top of said ridge; thence due north to Camp Coffee on Tennessee River, which is opposite the Chickasaw Island; thence to the place of beginning.
Sec. 2. The Sovereignty and Jurisdiction of this Government shall extend over the country within the boundaries above described, and the lands therein are, and shall remain the common property of the Nation; but the improvements made thereon, and in the possession of the citizens of the Nation, are the exclusive and indefeasible property of the citizens respectively who made, or may rightfully be in possession of them; Provided, That the citizens of the Nation, possessing exclusive and indefeasible right to their respective improvements, as expressed in this article, shall possess no right nor power to dispose of their improvements in any manner whatever to the United States, individual states, nor to individual citizens hereof; and that, whenever any such citizen or citizens shall remove with their effects out of the limits of this Nation, and become citizens of any other government, all their rights and privileges as citizens of this nation shall cease; Provided nevertheless, That the Legislature shall have power to re-admit by law to all the rights of citizenship any such person or persons, who may at any time desire to return to the Nation on their memorializing the General Council for such readmission. Moreover, the Legislature shall have power to adopt such laws and regulations, as its wisdom may deem expedient and proper, to prevent the citizens from monopolizing improvements with the view of speculation.
Sec. 1. The Power of this Government, shall be divided into three distinct departments; the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial.
Sec. 2. No person or persons, belonging to one of these Departments, shall exercise any of the powers properly belonging to either of the others, except in the cases hereinafter expressly directed or permitted.
Sec. 1. THE LEGISLATIVE POWER shall be vested in two distinct branches; a Committee, and a Council; each to have a negative on the other, and both to be styled, the General Council of the Cherokee Nation; and the style of their acts and laws shall be,
"RESOLVED by the Committee and Council in General Council convened."
Sec. 2. The Cherokee Nation, as laid off into eight Districts, shall so remain.
Sec. 3. The Committee shall consist of two members from each district, and the Council shall consist of three members from each District, to be chosen by the qualified electors of their respective Districts for two years; and the elections to be held in every District on the first Monday in August for the year 1828, and every succeeding two years thereafter; and the General Council shall be held once a year, to be convened on the second Monday of October in each year, at New Echota.
Sec. 4. No person shall be eligible to a seat on the General Council, but a free Cherokee Male citizen, who shall have attained to the age of twenty-five years. The descendants of Cherokee men by all free women, except the African race, whose parents may be or have been living together as man and wife, according to the customs and laws of this Nation, shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of this Nation, as well as the posterity of Cherokee women by all free men. No person who is of negro or mulatto parentage, either by the father or mother side, shall be eligible to hold any office of profit, honor or trust, under this Government.
Sec. 5. The Electors, and members of the General Council shall, in all cases except those of treason, felony, or breach of peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at election, and at the General Council, and in going to, and returning from the same.
Sec. 6. In all elections by the people, the electors shall vote viva voce. Electors for members to the General Council for 1828 shall be held at the places of holding the several courts, and at the other two precincts in each District which are designated by the law under which the members of this convention were elected; and the District Judges shall superintend the elections within the precincts of their respective Court Houses, and the Marshals & Sheriffs shall superintend within the precincts which may be assigned them by the Circuit Judges of their respective Districts, together with one other person, who shall be appointed by the Circuit Judges for each precinct within their respective Districts, and the Circuit Judges shall also appoint a clerk to each precinct. The superintendents and clerks shall on the Wednesday morning succeeding the election assemble at their respective Court Houses and proceed to examine and ascertain the true state of the polls, and shall issue to each member, duly elected, a certificate; and also make an official return of the state of the polls of election to the principal chief, and it shall be the duty of the Sheriffs to deliver the same to the Executive Office; Provided nevertheless, The General Council shall have power, after the election of 1828 to regulate by law the precincts and superintendents and clerks of elections in the several Districts.
Sec. 7. All free male citizens (except negroes, and descendants of white and Indian men by negro women, who may have been set free,) who shall have attained to the age of eighteen years, shall be equally entitled in vote at all public elections.
Sec. 8. Each House of the General Council shall judge of the qualifications, elections, and returns of its own members.
Sec. 9. Each House of the General Council may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish a member for disorderly behavior, and with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member; but not a second time for the same cause.
Sec. 10. Each house of the General Council, when assembled, shall choose its own officers; a majority of each house shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and compel the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such penalty, as each house may prescribe.
Sec. 11. The members of the committee shall each receive from the public Treasury a compensation for their services, which shall be two dollars and fifty cents per day during their attendance at the General Council; and the members of the Council shall each receive two dollars per day, for their services during their attendance at the General Councils Provided, That the same may be increased or diminished by law, but no alteration shall take effect during the period of service of the members of the General Council, by whom such alteration shall have been made.
Sec. 12. The General Council shall regulate by law, by whom and in what manner, writs of elections shall be issued to fill the vacancies which may happen in either branch thereof.
Sec. 13. Each member of the General
Council, before he takes his seat, shall take the following oath of affirmation;
"I A, B, do solemnly swear (or affirm as the case may be) that I have not obtained my election by Bribery, Treats, or any undue and unlawful means used by himself, or others by my desire or approbation, for that purpose; that I consider myself Constitutionally qualified as a member of _________,; and that, on all questions and measures which may come before me, I will so give my vote, and so conduct myself, as may, in my judgment, appear most conducive to the interest and prosperity of this Nation; and that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and to the utmost of my ability and power observe conform to, support, and defend the Constitution thereof."
Sec. 14. No person who may be convicted of felony before any court of this Nation shall be eligible to any office or appointment of honor, profit, or trust, within this Nation.
Sec. 15. The General Council shall have power to make all laws and regulations, which they shall deem necessary and proper for the good of the Nation, which shall not be contrary to this Constitution.
Sec. 16. It shall be the duty of the General Council to pass such laws as may be necessary and proper, to decide differences by arbitrators to be appointed by the parties; who may choose that summary mode of adjustment.
Sec. 17. No power of suspending the laws of this Nation shall be exercised unless by the Legislature or its authority.
Sec. 18. No respective law, nor any law impairing the obligations of contracts shall be passed.
Sec. 19. The Legislature shall have power to make laws for laying and collecting taxes, for the purpose of raising a revenue.
Sec. 20. All bills making appropriations shall originate in the Committee, but the Council may propose amendments or reject the same.
Sec. 21. All other bills may originate in either house, subject to the concurrence or rejection of the other.
Sec. 22. All acknowledged Treaties shall be the Supreme Law of the land.
Sec. 23. The General Council shall have the sole power of deciding on the construction of all Treaty stipulations.
Sec. 24. The Council shall have the sole power of impeaching.
Sec. 25. All impeachments shall be tried by the Committee; when sitting for that purpose, the members shall be upon oath or affirmation; and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the members present.
Sec. 26. The Principal Chief, assistant principal Chief, and all civil officers, under this nation shall be liable to impeachment for any misdemeanor in office, but Judgment in such cases shall not extend further that removal from office, and disqualification to hold office of honor, trust or profit, under this Nation. The party, whether convicted or acquitted shall, nevertheless, be liable to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment according to law.