Cherokee Nation is the federally recognized government of Cherokee people and thereby has sovereign status granted by treaty and law. The seat of tribal government is the W.W. Keeler Complex near Tahlequah, Okla., the capital of Cherokee Nation.
The Constitution of the Cherokee Nation was approved by the commissioner of Indian Affairs on September 5, 1975, and was ratified by Cherokee people on June 26, 1976. A constitutional committee convened in 1999 to create a new constitution, and in 2003 Cherokee people overwhelmingly voted to accept it. The new constitution was enacted in 2006. The Cherokee Nation Constitution calls for three branches of government:
Power is vested in the principal chief. The principal chief is responsible for the execution of the laws of the Cherokee Nation, establishment of tribal policy and delegation of authority as necessary for the day-to-day operations of all programs and enterprises administered by the Cherokee Nation tribal government. The deputy principal chief is empowered to act as directed by the principal chief. The principal chief and deputy principal chief are elected to four-year terms by popular vote of registered Cherokee voters.
The legislative branch consists of the 17-member Tribal Council elected by popular vote to represent 15 Cherokee Nation districts, plus two at-large members elected to represent those citizens who live outside Cherokee Nation jurisdiction. The Tribal Council initiates legislation and conducts other business that will further the interests of Cherokee Nation and its citizens. An elected speaker presides over the council as its president. Tribal Council terms are four years.
The judicial branch consists of the five-member Cherokee Nation Supreme Court, the Cherokee Nation District Court and the Wellness Court. The Supreme Court, whose members are appointed by the principal chief and confirmed by the Tribal Council, is the highest court of the Cherokee Nation. The primary responsibility of the Supreme Court is to hear and resolve any disagreements arising under the provisions of the Cherokee Nation Constitution or enactments of the Tribal Council. The role of the District Court system is to hear all cases brought before it under jurisdiction of the Cherokee Nation judicial code. A district judge and an associate judge preside over court proceedings.
Constitution Convention Commission (CCC).
The Constitution Convention Commission was established and oversaw the constitutional convention as called for by a vote of the Cherokee people in the 1995 election.
The Cherokee Nation Election Commission carries out Legislative Act No. 7-97, the Cherokee Nation Code Annotated and the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation for the purpose of conducting all Cherokee Nation elections.
Its purpose, as set forth in the Cherokee Nation Tax Code, is to raise revenues in a fair and efficient manner to enable the Cherokee Nation government to provide services to Cherokee citizens and promote economic development, self-sufficiency and a strong tribal government.
The Marshal Service is a full-fledged, certified law enforcement agency with jurisdiction throughout Cherokee Nation. The Marshal Service is cross deputized with 50 municipal, county, state and federal agencies. With more than 32 deputy marshals, the agency offers an array of special teams focused on prevention and justice in matters concerning criminal activities.