Act of Union Between The Eastern and Western Cherokees

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The following act of union between the eastern and western Cherokees was signed on August 12, 1839.

Whereas our Fathers have existed, as a separate and distinct Nation, in the possession and exercise of the essential and appropriate attributes of sovereignty from a period extending into antiquity, beyond the records and memory of man: And Whereas these attributes, with the rights and franchises which they involve, remain still in full force and virtue, as do also the national and social relations of the Cherokee people to each other and to the body politic, excepting in those particulars which have grown out of the provisions of the treaties of 1817 and 1819 between the United States and the Cherokee Nation, under which a portion of our people removed to this country and be-came a separate community: But the force of the circumstances having recently compelled the body of the Eastern Cherokees to remove to this country, thus bringing together again the two branches of the ancient Cherokee family, it has become essential to the general welfare that a union should be formed, and a system of government matured, adapted to their present condition, and providing equally for the protection of each individual in the enjoyment of all his rights:

Therefore we, the people composing the Eastern and Western Cherokee Nation, in National Convention assembled, by virtue of our original and unalienable rights, do hereby solemnly and mutually agree to form ourselves into one body politic, under the style and title of the Cherokee Nation.

In view of the union now formed, and for the purpose of making satisfactory adjustments of all unsettled business which may have arisen before the consummation of this union, we agree that such business shall be settled according to the provisions of the respective laws under which it originated, and the Courts of the Cherokee Nation shall be governed in their decisions accordingly. Also, that the delegation authorized by the Eastern Cherokees to make arrangements with Major General Scott for their removal to this country shall continue in charge of the business, with their present powers, until it shall be finally closed. And also that all rights and title to public Cherokee lands on the east or west of the river Mississippi, with all their public interests which may have vested in either branch of the Cherokee family, whether inherited from our Fathers or derived from any other source, shall hence-forward vest entire and unimpaired in the Cherokee Nation, as constituted by this union.

Given under our hands, at Illinois Camp-ground, this 12th day of July 1839.

By order of the National Convention:

GEORGE LOWERY,
President of the Eastern Cherokees,
GEORGE GUESS, his x mark.

Eastern Cherokees: R. Taylor, V. P.; James Brown, V. P.; Te-ke-chu-las-kee, V P.; George Hicks; John Benge; Thomas Foreman; Archibald Campbell; Jesse Bushyhead; Lewis Ross; Edward Gunter; Te-nah-la-we-stah;

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Stephen Foreman; Daniel McCoy. By order of the National Convention.
JOHN ROSS, Principal Chief Eastern Cherokees.
GOING SNAKE, Speaker of Council.

Western Cherokees: Tobacco Will, V. P.; David Melton, V. P.; John Drew, V. P.; George Brewer; Thomas Candy; Moses Parris; James Camp-bell; Loony Riley; Charles Gourd; Lewis Melton; Young Wolf; Charles Coodey; Ah-sto-la-ta; Jack Spears; Looney Price. By order of the National Convention. August 23, 1830.

JOHN LOONEY, His x mark.
Acting Principal Chief Western Cherokees

The foregoing instrument was read, considered, and approved by us this 23d day of August 1839.

Aaron Price, Major Pullum, Young Elders, Deer Track, Young Puppy, Turtle Fields, July, The Eagle, The Crying Buffalo and a great number of respectable Old Settlers and late Emigrants, too numerous to be copied.

It being determined that a constitution should be made for the inchoate government, men were selected by its sponsors, from those at the Illinois Camp ground, including as many western Cherokees as could be induced to sign it; their number being less than two dozen out of a total of eight thousand.’ The constitution as drafted by William Shory Coody, was accepted by the Convention:

Constitution of The Cherokee Nation.

The Eastern and Western Cherokees having again re-united, and become one body politic, under the style and title of the Cherokee Nation: Therefore,

We, the people of the Cherokee Nation, in National Convention assembled, in order to establish justice, insure tranquility, promote the common welfare, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of freedom – acknowledging, with humility and gratitude, the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in permitting us so to do, and imploring His aid and guidance in its accomplishment – do ordain and establish this Constitution for the government of the Cherokee Nation.

Article I.

Sec. 1. The boundary of the Cherokee Nation shall be that described in the treaty of 1833 between the United States and Western Cherokees, subject to such extension as may be made in the adjustment of the unfinished business with the United States.

Sec. 2. The lands of the Cherokee Nation shall remain common property; 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, I hat the citizens of the Nation possessing exclusive and indefeasible right to their improvements, as expressed in this article, shall possess no right or power to dispose of their improvements, in any manner whatever, to the United Mates individual States, or to individual citizens thereof; and that, whenever any citizen shall remove with his effects out of the limits of this Nation, and

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become a citizen of any other Government, all his rights and privileges as a citizen of this Nation shall cease: Provided, nevertheless, That the National Council 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 memorializing the National Council for such readmission.

Article II.

Sec. 1. The power of the 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.

Article III.

Sec. 1. The Legislative power shall be vested in two distinct branches – a National Committee, and Council; and the style of their acts shall be – Be it enacted by the National Council.

Sec. 2. The National Council shall make provision, by law, for laying off the Cherokee Nation into eight Districts; and if subsequently it should be deemed expedient, one or two may be added thereto.

Sec. 3. The National 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 in their respective Districts for two years; the elections to be held in the respective Districts every two years, at such times and place as may be directed by law.

The National Council shall, after the present year, be held annually, to be convened on the first Monday in October, at such place as may be designated by the National Council, or, in case of emergency, by the Principal Chief.

Sec. 4. Before the Districts shall be laid off, any election which may take place shall be by general vote of the electors throughout the Nation for all offices to be elected.

The first election for all the officers of the Government – Chiefs, Executive Council, members of the National Council, Judges and Sheriffs – shall be held at Tah-le-quah before the rising of this Convention; and the term of service of all officers elected previous to the first Monday in October 1839, shall be extended to embrace, in addition to the regular constitutional term, the time intervening from their election to the first Monday in October, 1830.

Sec. 5. No person shall be eligible to a seat in the National Council but a free Cherokee male citizen who shall have attained to the age of twenty-five years.

The descendants of Cherokee men by free women except the African race, whose parents may 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

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the father or mother’s side, shall he eligible to hold any office of profit, honor, or trust under this Government.

Sec. 6. The electors and members of the National Council shall in all cases, except those of treason, felony, or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at elections, and at the National Council, in going to and returning.

Sec. 7. In all elections by the people, the electors shall vote viva voce.

All free male citizens, who shall have attained to the age of eighteen years shall be equally entitled to vote at all public elections.

Sec. 8. Each branch of the National Council shall judge of the qualifications and returns of its own members; and 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 offence.

Sec. 9. Each branch of the National Council, when assembled, shall choose its own officers; a majority of each 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 branch may prescribe.

Sec. 10. The members of the National Council, shall each receive from the public Treasury a compensation for their services which shall be three dollars per day during their attendance at the National Council; and the members of the Council shall each receive three dollars per day for their services during their attendance at the National Council, 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 National Council by whom such alteration may have been made.

Sec. 11. The National Council shall regulate by law by whom and in what manner, writs of elections shall he issued to fill the vacancies which may happen in either branch thereof.

Sec. 12. Each member of the National Council, before he takes his seat, shall take the following oath, or affirmation: 1, 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 myself 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 in my judgment shall appear most conducive to the interest and prosperity of this Nation, and 1 will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and to the utmost of my ability and power observe, conform to, supply and defend the Constitution thereof.

Sec. 13. No person who may be convicted of felony shall be eligible to any office or appointment of honor, profit, or trust within this Nation.

Sec. 14. The National Council shall have the 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.

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Sec. 15. It shall be the duty of the National Council to pass such laws as may be necessary and proper to decide differences by arbitration, to be appointed by the parties, who may choose that summary mode of adjustment.

Sec. 16. No power of suspending- the laws of this Nation shall be exercised, unless by the National Council or its authority.

Sec. 17. No retrospective law, nor any law impairing the obligation of contracts, shall be passed.

Sec. 18. The National Council shall have power to make laws for laying and collecting taxes, for the purpose of raising a revenue.

Sec. 19. All bills making appropriations shall originate in the National Committee, but the Council may propose amendments or reject the same; all other bills may originate in either branch, subject to the concurrence or rejection of the other.

Sec. 20. All acknowledged treaties shall be the supreme laws of the land, and the National Council shall have the sole power of deciding on the construction of all treaty stipulations.

Sec. 21. The Council shall have the sole power of impeaching. All impeachments shall be tried by the National Committee. When setting for that purpose the member shall be upon oath or affirmation; and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members present.

Sec. 22. The Principal Chief, assistant Principal Chief, and all civil officers shall be liable to impeachment for misdemeanor in office; but judgment in such cases shall not be extended further than removal from office and disqualification to hold an office of honor, trust, or profit under the Government of this Nation.

The party, whether convicted or acquitted, shall, nevertheless, be liable to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment according to law.

Article IV.

Sec. 1. The Supreme Executive Power of this Nation shall be vested in a Principal Chief, who shall be styled the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

The Principal Chief shall hold his office for the term of four years; and shall be elected by the qualified electors on the same day and at the places where they shall respectively vote for members of the National Council.

The returns of the election for Principal Chief shall be sealed up and directed to the President of the National Committee, who shall open and publish them in the presence of the National Council assembled. The person having the highest number of votes shall be Principal Chief; but if two or more shall be equal and highest in votes, one of them shall be chosen by joint vote of both branches of the Council. The manner of determining contested elections shall be directed by law.

Sec. 2. No person except a natural born citizen shall be eligible to the office of Principal Chief; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years.

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Sec. 5. There shall also be chosen at the same time by the qualified electors in the same manner for four years, an assistant Principal Chief, who shall have attained to the age of thirty-five years.

Sec. 4. In case of the removal of the Principal Chief from office, or of his death or resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the assistant Principal Chief until the disability be removed or the vacancy filled by the National Council.

Sec. 5. The National Council may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation, or disability of both the Principal and assistant Principal Chief, declaring what officer shall then act as Principal Chief until the disability be removed or a Principal Chief shall be elected.

Sec. 6. The Principal Chief and assistant Principal Chief shall, at stated times, receive for their services a compensation which shall neither be in-creased nor diminished during the period for which they shall have been elected; and they shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the Cherokee Nation or any other Government.

Sec. 7. Before the Principal Chief enters on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation:

“I do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I will faithfully execute the duties of Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation.”

Sec. 8. He may, on extraordinary occasions, convene the National Council at the seat of Government.

Sec. 9. He shall from time to time, give to the National Council in-formation of the state of the Government, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he may deem expedient.

Sec. to. He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

Sec. 11. It shall be his duty to visit the different districts at least once in two years, to inform himself of the general condition of the country.

Sec. 12. The Assistant Principal Chief shall, by virtue of his office, aid and advise the Principal Chief in the administration’ of the government at all times during his continuance in office.

Sec. 13. Vacancies that may occur in offices, the appointment of which is vested in the National Council, shall be filled by the Principal Chief during the recess of the National Council by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of the next session thereof.

Sec. 14. Every bill which shall pass both branches of the National Council shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the Principal Chief; if he approves, he shall sign it; but if not, he shall return it, with his objections that branch in which it may have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journals and proceed to reconsider it; if, after such reconsideration, two thirds of that branch shall agree to pass the bill, it shall become a law. If any bill shall not be returned by the Principal Chief within five days (Sundays excepted), after the same has been presented to

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him, it shall become a law in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the National Council, by their adjournment, prevent its return, in which case it shall be a law, unless sent back within three days after their next meeting.

Sec. 15. Members of the National Council, and all officers, executive and judicial, shall be bound by oath to support the Constitution of this Nation, and to perform the duties of their respective offices with fidelity.

Sec. 16. In case of disagreement between the two branches of the National Council with respect to the time of adjournment, the Principal Chief shall have power to adjourn the same to such time as he may deem proper; provided, it be not a period beyond the next constitutional meeting thereof.

Sec. 17. The Principal Chief shall, during the session of the National Council, attend at the seat of government.

Sec. 18. There shall be a council composed of five persons, to be appointed by the National Council, whom the Principal Chief shall have full power at his discretion to assemble; he, together with the Assistant Principal Chief and the counselors, or a majority of them, may, from time to time, hold and keep a council for ordering and directing the affairs of the Nation ac-cording to law; provided, the National Council shall have power to reduce the number, if deemed expedient, after the first term of service, to a number not less than three.

Sec. 19. The members or the executive council shall be chosen fur the term of two years.

Sec. 20. The resolutions and advice of the council shall be recorded in a register, and signed by the members agreeing thereto, which may be called for by either branch of the National Council; and any counselor may enter his dissent to the majority.

Sec. 21. The Treasurer of the Cherokee Nation shall be chosen by a joint vote of both branches of the National Council for the term of four years.

Sec. 22. The Treasurer shall, before entering on the duties of his office, give bond to the Nation, with sureties, to the satisfaction of the National Council, for the faithful discharge of his trust.

Sec. 23. No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but by warrant from the Principal Chief, and in consequence of appropriations made by law.

Sec. 24. It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to receive all public moneys, and to make a regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all public moneys at the annual session of the National Council.

Article V.

Section 1. The judicial powers shall be vested in a Supreme Court, and such circuit and inferior courts as the National Council may, from time to time, ordain and establish.

Sec. 2. The Judges of the Supreme and Circuit courts shall hold their commissions for the term of four years, but any of them may be removed

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from office on the address of two-thirds of each branch of the National Council to the Principal Chief for that purpose.

Sec. 3. The Judges of the Supreme and Circuit courts shall, at stated times” receive a compensation which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office, but they shall receive no fees or perquisites of office, nor hold any other office of profit or trust under the government of this Nation, or any other power.

Sec. 4. No person shall be appointed a judge of any of the courts until he shall have attained the age of thirty years, elected by the National Council, and there shall be appointed in each district

Sec. 5. The Judges of the Supreme and Circuit courts shall be as many Justices of the Peace as it may be deemed expedient for the public good, whose powers, duties, and duration in office shall be clearly designated by law.

Sec. 6. The Judges of the Supreme Court and of the Circuit Courts shall have complete criminal jurisdiction in such cases, and in such manner as may be pointed out by law.

Sec. 7. No Judge shall sit on trial of any cause when the parties are connected [with him] by affinity or consanguinity, except by consent of the parties. In case all the Judges of the Supreme Court shall be interested m the issue of any case, or related to all or either of the parties, the National Council may provide by law for the selection of a suitable number of persons of good character and knowledge, for the determination thereof, and who shall be specially commissioned for the adjudication of such cases by the Principal Chief.

Sec. 8. All writs and other process shall run “In the Name of the Cherokee Nation,” and bear test and be signed by the respective clerks.

Sec. 9. Indictments shall conclude – “Against the Peace and Dignity of the Cherokee Nation.”

Sec. 10. The Supreme Court shall, after the present year, hold its session annually at the seat of government, to be convened on the first Mon-day of October in each year.

Sec. 11. In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall have the right of being heard; of demanding the nature and cause of the accusation; of meeting the witnesses face to face; of having compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his or their favor; and in prosecutions by indictment or information, a speedy public trial, by an impartial jury of the vicinage; nor shall the accused be compelled to give evidence against himself.

Sec. 12. The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and possessions from unreasonable seizures and searches, and no warrant to search any place, or to seize any person or thing, shall issue, without describing them as nearly as may be, nor without good cause, supported by oath or affirmation.

Sec. 13. All persons shall be bailable by sufficient securities, unless for capital offenses, where the proof is evident or presumption great.

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Article VI.

Section 1. No person who denies the being of a God or future state of reward and punishment, shall hold any office in the civil department in this Nation.

Sec. 2. The free exercise of religious worship, and serving; God without distinction, shall forever be enjoyed within the limits of this Nation; provided, that this liberty of conscience shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of this Nation.

Sec. 3. When the National Council shall determine the expediency of appointing delegates, or other public agents, for the purpose of transacting business with the government of the United States, the Principal Chief shall recommend, and by the advice and consent of the National Committee, appoint and commission such delegates or public agents accordingly. On all matters of interest, touching the rights of the citizens of this Nation, which may require the attention of the United States government, the Principal Chief shall keep up a friendly correspondence with that government through the medium of its proper officers.

Sec. 4. All commissions shall be “In the Name and by the Authority of the Cherokee Nation,” and be sealed with the seal of the Nation, and signed by the Principal Chief. The Principal Chief shall make use of his private seal until a National seal shall be provided.

Sec. 5. A sheriff shall be elected in each district by the qualified electors thereof, who shall hold his office two years, unless sooner removed. Should a vacancy occur subsequent to an election, it shall be filled by the Principal Chief, as in other cases, and the person so appointed shall continue in office until the next regular election.

Sec. 6. No person shall, for the same offense, be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall the property of any person be taken and applied to public use without a just and fair compensation; provided, that nothing in this clause shall be so construed as to impair the right and power of the National Council to lay and collect taxes.

Sec. 7. The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate, and every person, for injury sustained in person, property, or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law.

Sec. 8. The appointment of all officers, not otherwise directed by this Constitution, shall be vested in the National Council.

Sec. 0. Religion, mortality and knowledge being necessary to good government, the preservation of liberty, and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged in this Nation.

Sec. 10. The National Council may propose such amendments to this Constitution as two-thirds of each branch may deem expedient, and the Principal Chief shall issue a proclamation, directing all civil officers of the several districts to promulgate the’ same as extensively as possible within their respective districts at least six months previous to the next general

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election. And if, at the first session of the National Council, after such general election, two-thirds of each branch shall, by ayes and noes, ratify such proposed amendments, they shall be valid to all intent and purposes, as parts of this Constitution; provided, that such proposed amendments shall be read on three several days in each branch, as well when the same are proposed, as when they are ratified.

Done in convention at Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation, this sixth day of September 1839.

GEORGE LOWRY, President of the National Convention.

Hair Conrad, his x mark; John Benge, his x mark; Archibald Campbell, his X mark; Thomas Candy; John Drew; George Guess, his x mark; Walter Scott Adair; Young Elders, his x mark; Will Shorey Coodey; Thomas Foreman; Richard Taylor; Thomas Fox Taylor; O-kan-sto-tah Logan, his x mark; James Spears, his x mark; John Spears; Stephen Foreman; Young Glass, his x mark; Looney Price; Tobacco Will, his x mark; Major Pullum, his X mark; Moses Parris; George Washington Gunter; Kench Logan, his X mark; Young Wolf; Joseph Martin Lynch; Sal-la-tee-skee Watts, his x mark; George Brewer, his x mark; Joshua Buffington; Jesse Bushyhead; Jesse Russell; John Fletcher Boot, his x mark; Crying Buffalo, his x mark; Bark Flute, his x mark; Oo-la-yo-a, his x mark; Soft Shell Turtle, his x mark; Edward Gunter; Daniel Colston, his x mark; Lewis Ross; George Hicks; Tah-lah-see-nee, his x mark; James Brown; Charles Coodey; Riley Keys; Daniel McCoy; Lewis Melton.

Proclamation And Amendments To The Constitution
Adopted November 26, 1886. Proclamation by the Principal Chief.

Whereas, The National Council adopted certain amendments to the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation and submitted the same to a general convention of the people of the Cherokee Nation, called at Tahlequah, on the 26tb day of November, A. D. 1866, and which said amendments, with the preamble thereto attached, were in the following words, to-wit:

Whereas, By the treaty executed at Washington, on the l0th day of July A. D. 1866, between the United Slates and the Cherokee Nation, through its delegation, ratified by the Senate and officially promulgated by the President of the United States, August 11, 1866, certain things were agreed to between the parties to said treaty, involving changes in the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation, which changes cannot be accomplished by the usual mode; and

Whereas, It is the desire of the people and government of the Cherokee Nation to carry out in good faith all of its obligations, to the end that law and order be preserved and the institutions of their government maintained; therefore.

Be it resolved by the National Council, That the following; amendments to the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation be submitted to a convention of the Cherokee people, to assemble at T’ahlequah, on the twenty-sixth (26th) day of November, A.D. 1866, under the proclamation hereunto annexed, he ratified by said convention, then they shall be officially published, and declare

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by the Principal Chief to be, and shall constitute a part, or parts, of the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation.

Amendments
Amendments To Article 1

Section 1. The boundary of the Cherokee Nation shall be that described in the treaty of 183 3, between the United States and the Western Cherokees, subject to such modifications as may be made necessary by the 1 7th article of the treaty concluded at Washington City on the I9th day of July 1866, between the United States and the Cherokee Nation.

Sec. 2. The lands of the Cherokee Nation shall remain common property until the National Council shall request the survey and allotment of the same, in accordance with the provisions of Article 20 of the treaty of l9th of July, 1866, between the United States and the Cherokee Nation.

Amendments To Article 3

Section 1. The Upper House of the National Council, known as the National Committee, shall be hereafter known and styled the Senate of the Cherokee Nation, and shall consist of two Senators for every district in the Cherokee Nation.

Sec. 2. The Council shall consist of two members from each district, and when a district shall have to exceed two hundred voters, it shall have an additional member, and for every additional two hundred voters in said district, upwards of four hundred, it shall have an additional member; provided, that when any district shall have less than one hundred voters according to the census, it shall still be entitled to one representative.

Sec. 3. In order to ascertain and fix the representation to the Council, provided for above, shall be made before the first day of June, and shall govtaken, as soon as practicable, a census of the population of the Cherokee Nation, according to districts. A second census shall be taken in like manner in the year 1870, and each ten years thereafter, and the National Council shall regularly apportion representation among the several districts, as provided in the preceding section, agreeably to such census. The first apportionment, provided for above, shall be made before the first day of June, and shall govern the election to be held on the first Monday in August 1867.

Sec. 4. The National Council shall, after the present year, be held annually, to be convened on the first Monday in November, at such place as may be designated by the National Council, or in case of emergency, by the Principal Chief.

Sec. 5. No person shall be eligible to a seat in the National Council but a male citizen of the Cherokee Nation who shall have attained to the age of twenty-five years, and who shall have been a bona fide resident of the district in which he may be elected, at least six months immediately preceding such election. All native born Cherokees all Indians, and whites legally members of the Nation by adoption, and all freedmen who have been liberated by voluntary act of their former owners or by law, as well as free colored persons who were in the country at the commencement of the rebellion, and are now

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residents therein, or who may return within six months from the 19th day of July 1866, and their descendants, who reside within the limits of the Cherokee Nation, shall be taken, and deemed to be, citizens of the Cherokee Nation.

Sec. 6. The members of the National Council shall each receive from the public treasury a compensation for their services, which shall be three dollars per day, during their attendance at the National Council upon any regular session, not exceeding thirty days; provided, that the per diem allowance may be increased or diminished by law; but no alteration shall take effect during the period of service of the members of the National Council, by whom such alteration may have been made.

Sec. 7. All male citizens, who have attained the age of eighteen years, shall be deemed qualified electors of the Cherokee Nation, and there shall be no restrictions by law, save such as are required for persons convicted of crime, or for such limit as to residence, not exceeding six months in the district where the vote is offered, as may be required by census or registration.

Amendments To Article V

Section 1. The Supreme Court shall consist of three judges, who shall be elected by the National Council, and whose duties, jurisdiction, and compensation, shall be defined by law, in the manner prescribed by the Constitution. The National Council, at its annual session in 1867, shall elect one of the Supreme Judges for three years, one for two years, and one for one year, and at each annual session of the National Council thereafter, shall elect one Supreme Judge, whose official term shall be three years.

Sec. 2. The judges of the Circuit Court shall hereafter be elected by the people, for the term of four years, and shall have the same jurisdiction, discharge the same duties, and be compensated in the same manner as is now provided for by the Constitution. There shall be elected in like manner in and for each district as many judges as it may be deemed expedient for the public good, whose powers, duties and duration in office shall be clearly designated by law.

Amendments To Article VII

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, shall ever here-after exist in the Cherokee Nation, otherwise than in the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted; and any provision of the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation conflicting with the foregoing section, is hereby annulled.

Sec. 2. The persons now holding office shall continue therein, except as may be otherwise expressly provided by law for Canadian district until their successors be commissioned in November, 1867

Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation, November 26, 1866.

SMITH CHRISTIE, President of the National Committee

Concurred: WRITER,
Speaker of Council Approved: Will P. Ross.

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At a general convention of the people of the Cherokee Nation, held at Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation, on the 2Sth day of November, A. D. 1866 for the purpose of taking- into consideration the foregoing amendments to the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation; and, whereof, Riley Keys, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was chosen President, and Budd Gritts, Secretary; the said amendments to the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation were read, considered and severally approved and adopted by the Cherokee people. In testimony whereof, the President and Secretary of said convention have subscribed the same at Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation, on this the 28tli day of November. A. D. 1866.

RILEY KEYS, President of the Convention.
BUDD GRITTS, Secretary.

And, Whereas, The foregoing amendments to the Constitution were duly submitted to the said general convention of the Cherokee people, and were severally read, considered, and adopted on the 28th day of November, A. D. 1866; now,

Therefore, Be it known that I, William P. Ross, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, do issue this, my proclamation, declaring said amendments to be a part of the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my name, this the 7th day of December, A. D. 1866.

WILL P. ROSS,
Principal Chief.

The constitution was generally accepted by the nation on January 10, 1839 and October 26, 1840.

Fort Gibson, September 28, 1839.

Sir: We have been required by instructions from the War Department to arrest and bring to trial the murderers of the Ridges and Boudinot. Although we have the names of several of the individuals charged, yet, as you are the chief of the emigrant Cherokees, by some of whom we have no doubt these murders were perpetrated, we therefore deem it proper to apprize you of this order. We believe that you can have the persons charged delivered at this post, without resorting to other means, which it is our wish to avoid. Should we be disappointed in our expectations in this particular, the military force of the United States will be employed in carrying out the instructions of the War Department. In the meantime, we expect and require of you that no violence or disability whatever be imposed on the treaty party in consequence of the treaty of 1835, which has received the sanction of the Government of the United States.

We extremely regret the unfortunate events to which we have referred; and also that no union has taken place between the eastern Cherokees, of whom you are the acknowledged -head, and John Brown, principal chief of the western Cherokees. An early reply to this communication is requested.

Act of Union Between The Eastern and Western Cherokees
Page 134

Respectfully, your very obedient servants,
M. Arbuckle, Brevet Brig. General, U. S. A.
Wm. Armstrong, Acting Superintendent, W. T.

John Ross, Principal Chief of the emigrant Cherokees


Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation
September 30, 1830.

Gentlemen: Your communication of the 28th instant came duly to hand by express.

You appraise me of having received “instructions from the War Department to arrest and bring to trial the murderers of Ridges and Boudinot,” and express expectations “that I will arrest the persons charged, and deliver them over to the military post at Fort Gibson without resorting to other means.” I hold myself at all times in readiness, so far as I may be concerned, to comply with the established regulations between the United States and the Cherokee Nation, and for all offenses which may be committed by individual Cherokees, and over which the United States may have proper jurisdiction, and their courts cognizance assuredly, I could not in duty to the Nation and to myself, but exercise all necessary and proper efforts to sustain and preserve unimpaired the confidence and friendship of both parties, You cannot be otherwise than fully impressed with the fact that there exists in this country a feeling decidedly friendly to the Government and people of the United States, and no wish or attempt to cause innovation in the plain and well understood method of communication and intercourse. In relation to the particular subject of ” arrest and trial” of which you speak, I am wholly at a loss to conjecture by what right or sound policy the Cherokee people are to be deprived of the exercise of their own legislate authority over acts of the Indian against another. An authority founded upon natural as well as conventional rights. I cannot conceive how, if the persons charged be Cherokees, they have violated either treaty stipulation or act of Congress, that they should be held answerable to the courts of the United States, and the military force employed for their arrest. Any effort directed to that purpose is depreciated as calculated to disquiet the country, to weaken the confidence of the people in their exertions to allay excitement and the enjoyment of some spite from the difficulties and embarrassments which have so long distressed them.

None of the persons charged with the act you instructed upon are known me; some of them may be of the late emigrants, or all for ought I know; or do I feel that it is again necessary for me to review the subject among the people, when you are doubtless appraised that they themselves, in contention, considered and disposed of the matter in a manner satisfactory to the whole people. You express regret “that no union has taken place” between the eastern Cherokees and John Brown, principal chief of the western – Cherokees.” This may be true to some extent, yet it is equally true that a

Act of Union Between The Eastern and Western Cherokees
Page 135

union has been formed between the eastern and western Cherokee people. To that union, if it has pleased some to withhold their approbation, and among them John Brown, still the people acted for themselves. They are the acknowledged source of power in this country, and their original acts require not sanction of any chief to accredit it with authority. Many of the old settlers, who could not attend in person, forwarded their names to be enrolled upon that act.

Although the fact may not have been formally announced to you, yet it was believed that you were informed of the adoption of a constitution for the government of the Cherokee Nation, in accordance with the act of union. Elections have also taken place under its provisions for officers, etc., and the national council, composed both of old settlers and emigrants, without, how-ever, any distinction, are now about to terminate its session, having been engaged in passing such laws as were required for the security and protection of the persons and property of the people.

From these facts, I trust that you will be fully convinced of the earnest desire of the Cherokees to preserve and maintain the peace and friendship which have so long subsisted between them and the citizens of the United States.

I have the honor to be, gentlemen, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

John Ross, Principal Chief.

Brevet Brigadier General M. Arbuekle, U. S. A.
Captain William Armstrong, Acting Superintendent, W. T. Fort Gibson.”‘

After a little more desultory correspondence, the matter of prosecution for the murderers was dropped.

The public school system of the Cherokee Nation was inaugurated in 1842. In the spring of that year Sequoyah started to the southwest in search of a Cherokee settlement in the neighborhood of the Rio Grande. He died at San Fernando in August 1843. The Cherokee Advocate, a weekly newspaper, owned and operated by the Nation and its official organ, published volume one, number one at Tahlequah on September 25, 1844.

Chief Ross married on September 2, 1S44, Mary Brown Stapler a native of Delaware. On account of the widespread dissatisfaction among the treaty party and old settlers, a delegation of fifty-four of their leaders left the Cherokee Nation for southwest Texas on September 1, 1845. They found a settlement of sixty-three Cherokees on the bank of Brazos River, at the mouth of Basky Creek. These Cherokees were from Monclovis, Mexico. While on this trip Charles Reese died. The delegation returned to Ft. Gibson on January l9, 1846, not being able to find a home in the west.

The residence of Return Jonathan Meigs, son-in-law of Chief John Ross was burned by Thomas Starr and his band on the night of November 2, 1845. Mr. Meigs, who lived within three miles of his father-in-law, was an estimable citizen and this act was a part of the feud that had been raged uninterrupted since 1830. On the ninth of the month thirty-two men rode up to the home of James Starr, father of Thomas and shot him to death. He was one of the signers of the treaty of 1835 and a member of the first elected Cherokee committee (senate) from 1841 to 1843. No prosecution followed this murder.

Delegations from the emigrant, treaty party and old settlers divisions of the Cherokee Nation visited Washington in the summer of 1846 where they in conjunction with representatives of the United States, concluded a treaty for the purpose of establishing national tranquility and arriving at a more equitable adjustment of their vested rights.




MLA Source Citation:

Starr, Emmett. History of the Cherokee Indians and Their Legends and Folk Lore. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: The Warden Company. 1921 AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 15 April 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/act-of-union-between-the-eastern-and-western-cherokees.htm - Last updated on Apr 5th, 2013


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