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Tribal Council approves first Constitution Convention delegates

Tribal Council approves first Constitution Convention delegates

Tribal Council has unanimously approved a resolution naming the first designated delegates to a planned Constitution Convention and expanding the list of groups to be represented there. 

During the Oct. 16 session of Annual Council, the Cherokee Community Club Council submitted a resolution naming Lloyd Arneach Jr., Carmaleta Monteith and Peggy Hill as delegates to the convention, which has yet to be scheduled, representing the Sgadugi Constitution Committee.

A dedicated group of tribal members, which includes the three named delegates, has been working for years to develop a draft constitution and present it to tribal members for adoption in a referendum vote. They thought they’d accomplished that goal on April 6, when Tribal Council voted unanimously to place the draft constitution on the September 2023 ballot. But after the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Attorney General’s Office began to raise concerns about the unintended consequences of adopting the document as currently written, Tribal Council later voted to rescind the resolution approving the ballot measure. At the same time, it laid out a process to continue refining the proposed constitution.

That resolution, passed in July, directs that one or more new Constitution Conventions be held to consider changes to the current draft, with rules and procedures to be written by a group of delegates consisting of two delegates plus one alternate from each of the three branches of government, as well as from Community Club Council and from the population of young tribal members ages 18 to 25.

The resolution Tribal Council passed this month adds delegates from the Sgadugi Constitution Committee, which has been working on the constitution for the past six years, to the list. It is now awaiting signature from Principal Chief Michell Hicks.

“This amendment is based on the dedication and commitment these three individuals have demonstrated to the development of a constitution for our tribal members,” the resolution reads.

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After voting to pass the resolution, Snowbird/Cherokee County Rep. Adam Wachacha suggested that a similar resolution should be submitted naming the additional Constitution Convention delegates. Attorney General Mike McConnell agreed, and Chairman Mike Parker asked McConnell to prepare such a resolution for consideration at the next Tribal Council meeting.

Tammy Jackson told Tribal Council that the Community Club Council plans to meet Monday, Nov. 6, and will select its representatives at that time. The body is wondering what the timeline will be for the three branches of government to select their representatives and for a convention to be scheduled, she said.

“They are trying to keep this up and keep it going, just to keep it to the forefront of the people,” she said.

The tribe currently operates under a charter, a document meant to govern organizations and corporations. Constitutions define the relationship between a government and its people. Over the course of decades, tribal members have made multiple efforts to replace their charter with a constitution, but none of those efforts have yet succeeded.

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