Constitution of the Cherokee Nation

Constitution and Laws of the Cherokee Nation

The Constitution of the Cherokee Nation, written in Cherokee 

In July of 1827, The Constitution of the Cherokee Nation was formed by a convention of delegates. This Constitution was directly modeled after the U.S Constitution. For example, Article II, Section 1 states, “The power of this Government shall be divided into three distinct departments; the Legislative, the Executive, and Judicial.” (5)

Article I of the Cherokee constitution lays out the reserved land of the tribe that was granted to them by the U.S government. One of the most important sections of the Cherokee Constitution is Article III, Sec. 23 which reads, “The General Council shall have the sole power of deciding on the construction of all Treaty stipulations.” (5) When a group of Cherokees, not on the General Council, sign the Treaty of New Echota in 1835, this becomes an argument within the Nation. 

The Cherokee Constitution also mirrors the U.S Constitution in other aspects, such as establishing a Principal Chief (similar to the U.S President) that is elected for certain terms. The Cherokee also have an advanced legal and court system, a legislature, and outlined rights of Cherokee citizens. 

This Constitution, written by prominent members of the Cherokee Nation such as John Ross, establish the Cherokee as sovereign. However, this declaration of autonomy, like many others, are ignored by the U.S Government.