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 Constitution Of The Three Affiliated Tribes

Of The Fort Berthold Indian Reservation

 *Approved June 29,1936

 


Preamble

We, the Arickara, Gros Ventres, and Mandan Indians of the Fort Berthold Reservation, in North Dakota, eagerly embrace the opportunity for self-rule, and in order to enjoy the blessings of liberty and justice; to intelligently protect our vested rights under existing treaties and the constitution of the United States; to guarantee to our prosterity a more hopeful future; to preserve and develop our real estate and resources; to promote educational efficiency for the enhancement of good citizenship; to promote the general welfare of the three tribes; to make possible a more hopeful, self-sustaining, and honorable living, socially and economically, do, with deep consciousness of God, as our sovereign, ordain and establish this constitution for the Three Affiliated Tribes of this reservation.

Article I - Territory

The jurisdiction of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation shall extend to Indian Trust and Tribal lands within the confines of the Fort Berthold Reservation, as defined in the treaty of September 17, 1851; to lieu lands outside of such boundaries; and to such other lands, within or without such boundaries, as have been or may be hereafter added thereto under any law of the United States, except as otherwise provided by law.

Article II - Membership

Section 1. The membership of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation shall consist of all persons of Indian blood whose names appear on the official census of the three tribes as of April 1, 1935; and all children born to any member of the tribes who is a resident of the reservation at the time of the birth of said children.

Sec. 2. The Tribal Business Council shall have power to promulgate ordinances, subject to review by the Secretary of the Interior, governing future membership, the adoption of new members and the revision of the membership rolls from time to time as determined by such ordinances.

Article III - Governing Body

Section 1. The Governing Body of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation shall be known as the Tribal Business Council.

Sec. 2. The Tribal Business Council shall consist of ten members elected from the communities as follows: Nishu, 2 representatives; Elbowoods, 1; Shell Creek, 2; Santee, 1; Independence, 2; Little Missouri-Red Butte, 1; Beaver Creek, 1.

Sec. 3. For the first election of a Tribal Business Council, and until otherwise changed as provided herein, the boundaries of the communities shall be described as follows:

     Nishu. - That part of the Reservation east of the Torrie Road and north of the Missouri River,
     to the Reservation line north and east.
     Elbowoods. - West of the Nishu community, north and east of the Missouri River, and south
     of township 149 north. Ranges 89, 90, and 91 west.
     Santee. - Township 149 north and ranges 89 and 90 west.
     Shell Creek. - Township 150 north and ranges 90,91 92, and 93 west, lying north and east
     of the Missouri River.
     Independence. - That part of the Reservation lying west of the Missouri River and north of
     the Little Missouri River.
     Little Missouri-Red Butte. - That part of the Reservation lying south and east of the Little
     Missouri River and extending eastward to a north and south line running through the Antelope
     Woman place.
     Beaver Creek. - That part of the Reservation south of the Missouri River, the west boundary
     being a north and south line extending eastward to the southeast corner of the Reservation.

Sec. 4. The Tribal Business Council shall have authority to change the community boundaries, subject to the approval of the voters of the Reservation at any regular or special election.

Sec. 5. The first election of the Tribal Business Council shall be held within 30 days after the adoption and approval of this constitution, and shall be called and supervised by the Superintendent of the Reservation with the cooperation of the present Tribal Business Committee.

Sec. 6. Within 3 days after the first election of a Tribal Business Council, that Council shall meet and organize by electing a chairman, a vice chairman, a secretary, and a treasurer from its own members: and from within or outside its own members, it may elect or appoint a sergeant at arms and such
other officers and committees as it may find necessary.

Sec. 7. The members of the first Tribal Business Council shall serve until the first Tuesday in September 1938, and until their successors are elected and qualified.

Article IV - Nominations and Elections

Section 1. All elections shall be by secret ballot.

Sec. 2. Any member of The Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation, who is 21 years of age or over, shall be entitled to vote at any election at which he or she appears at the polls in his or her community during official voting hours on election day.

Sec. 3. The regular election of a Tribal Business Council shall be held on the first Tuesday of September in even numbered years, beginning with 1938.

Sec. 4. Special elections may be called by a two-thirds vote of the Tribal Business Council in favor of such special election, or by a petition signed by at least 10 percent of the qualified voters of each community as provided in Article VIII.

Sec. 5. All elections shall be held under the supervision of the Tribal Business Council or an election board appointed by that Council, and the Tribal Business Council or the election board appointed by it, shall make rules and regulations governing all elections, and shall designate the polling places and
the election officers.

Sec. 6. Any qualified voter of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation who is 21 years of age or over, may become a candidate for the Tribal Business Council by filing notice of his candidacy with the Secretary of the Tribal Business Council at least 15 days before the election at
which he is to be a candidate. At least 10 days before the election the Secretary of the Tribal Business Council shall post the names of all candidates in each voting community. In the event that any community has no qualified candidate as provided herein, such community may nominate one or more candidates by petition signed by at least 10 qualified voters of each community.

Article V - Vacancies and Removal from Office

Section 1. If a council member shall die, resign, permanently remover from the reservation, or be removed for cause, the Council shall declare such position vacant and shall elect to fill the unexpired term from a list of names recommended by a petition signed by a majority of the voters of the community in which the vacancy occurs, and provided that the person elected or appointed by the Tribal Business Council to fill the unexpired term shall be a resident of the community in which the vacancy occurred, and otherwise eligible for the office.

Sec. 2. The Tribal Business Council may expel a member for cause by seven or more members voting for such expulsion, but before any vote is taken on the matter, such member shall be given an opportunity to answer any and all charges at a designated meeting of the Council, and the decision of the Tribal Business Council shall be final as to the expulsion or retention of such member.

Article VI - Powers

Section 1. The Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation, acting through their Tribal Business Council shall have the powers enumerated in this Article, but any power exercised through that council shall be subject to a popular referendum as provided in this Constitution.

Sec. 2. The exercise of the powers enumerated in this Constitution is subject to any limitations imposed by the Statutes of the United States or the Constitution of the United States and to all express restrictions upon such powers contained in this Constitution and Bylaws.

Sec. 3. The powers enumerated in this Section 3 shall be subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, and may be exercised through the Tribal Business Council which shall have the power, subject to popular referendum as provided in Article VIII of this Constitution:

A.  To present and prosecute any claims or demands of the Three Affiliated Tribes, and to assist  members of the Three Affiliated Tribes in presenting their claims or grievances before any court or agency of government, and to employ attorneys of record or representatives for such  services, and to determine their fees. 
B.  To promulgate ordinances governing law enforcement on the reservation, and to set up courts for the trial and punishment of offenders against such ordinances in cases which do not come within the jurisdiction of the Federal courts exclusively. 
C.  To promulgate ordinances and to adopt rules and regulations and codes for the regulation of the domestic relations of members, and governing marriage, divorce, legitimacy, adoption, the care of dependents, the punishment of offenses against the marriage relationship, and the
     issuance of licenses and decrees of divorce; all of the matters enumerated in this section to be administered by the Tribal Business Council through a reservation or tribal court, except such of these matters as the Tribal Business Council may by ordinance or resolution leave to state laws and courts. 
D.  To remove or exclude from the limits of the reservation, nonmembers of the tribe, excepting authorized government officials and other persons now occupying reservation lands under lawful authority, and to prescribe appropriate rules and regulations governing such removal and exclusion, and governing the conditions under which nonmembers of the tribe may come upon tribal lands or have dealings with tribal members; and to levy taxes or license fees on
     nonmembers doing business within the reservation, such acts to be consistent with Federal laws governing trade with Indian Tribes.

Sec. 4. Any resolution or ordinance which, by the terms of this Constitution, is subject to review by the Secretary of the Interior shall be presented to the Superintendent of the Fort Berthold Reservation, who shall, within 10 days thereafter, approve or disapprove the same.

If the Superintendent shall approve any ordinance or resolution, it shall thereupon become effective, but the Superintendent shall transmit a copy of the same, bearing his endorsement, to the Secretary of the Interior, who may within 90 days from the date of enactment, rescind the said ordinance or resolution for any cause, by notifying the Tribal Business Council of his veto.

If the Superintendent shall refuse to approve any resolution or ordinance submitted to him within 10 days after its enactment, he shall advise the Tribal Business Council of his reasons therefor. If these reasons appear to the Council insufficient, it may by a majority vote, refer the resolution or ordinance
to the Secretary of the Interior, who may, within 90 days of its enactment, approve the same in writing, whereupon the said ordinance or resolution shall become effective.

Sec. 5. The Tribal Business Council shall have the following powers, the exercise of which shall be subject to popular referendum as hereinafter provided in this Constitution.

A.  To manage all economic affairs and enterprises of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation in accordance with the terms of a charter to be issued to them by the Secretary of the Interior. 
B.  To create and maintain a Tribal Business Council Fund by accepting grants or donations from any person, State, or the United States, or by income from tribal enterprises, or by levying assessments of not less than 10 cents and not to exceed $1 per year per capita on the qualified voters of the Three Affiliated Tribes, and to require the performance of labor in lieu thereof, provided the payment of such capita levy shall be made before any person shall vote in any election held more than 6 months after the date of said levy. 
C.  To administer any funds or property within the exclusive control of the tribe; to make expenditures from available tribal funds for public purposes of the tribe, including salaries or other remuneration of tribal officials or employees. Such salaries or remuneration shall be paid only for services actually rendered. All expenditures from the Tribal Business Council Fund shall be by resolution duly passed by the Council to such effect, and the amounts so paid shall be matters of public record at all times. 
D.  To negotiate with the Federal, State and local governments on behalf of the tribe, and to advise and consult with the representatives of the Interior Department on all activities of that department that may affect the Fort Berthold Reservation. 
E.  To approve or veto any sale, disposition, lease, or encumbrance of tribal lands, interests in lands or other tribal assets, which may be authorized or executed by any authorized official or agency of the Government, provided that no tribal lands shall ever be sold or encumbered, or leased for a period exceeding 5 years, except that mineral lands may be leased by the Tribal Business Council for such longer periods as may be provided by law. 
F.  To advise the Secretary of the Interior with regard to all appropriation estimates or Federal projects for the benefit of the Three Affiliated Tribes prior to submission of such estimates or projects to the Bureau of the Budget and to Congress. 
G.  To purchase land of members of the organization under condemnation proceedings in courts of competent jurisdiction. 
H.  To regulate the inheritance of real and personal property, other than allotted lands, within the territory of their jurisdiction. 
I.  To make assignments and leases of tribal lands, and otherwise to manage tribal lands, interests in tribal lands, and property upon such lands, in conformity with Article IX of this Constitution. 
J.  To protect and preserve the property, wildlife, and natural resources of the tribes; to regulate hunting and fishing on tribal lands; and to cultivate and preserve native arts, crafts, culture, ceremonials, and traditions. 
K.  To make recommendations to the Superintendent of the Fort Berthold Agency, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, or the Secretary of the Interior, concerning the appointment  and removal of employees assigned to duty on the Fort Berthold Reservation. 
L. To adopt resolutions regulating the procedure of the Tribal Business Council and other tribal agencies and tribal officials of the reservation.

Sec. 6. Likewise subject to popular referendum, the Tribal Business Council may exercise such further powers as may in the future be delegated to the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation by the Secretary of the Interior or by any other duly authorized official or agency of government.

Sec. 7. Any rights and powers heretofore vested in the three tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation, but not expressly referred to in this Constitution, shall not be abridged by this Article, but may be exercised by the people of the Fort Berthold Reservation through the adoption of appropriate bylaws and constitutional amendments.

Article VIII - Referendum

Upon a petition signed by at least 10 percent of the qualified voters of each community, demanding a referendum on any proposed or enacted ordinance or resolution of the Tribal Business Council, the council shall call an election and the vote of a majority of the qualified voters in such referendum shall
be binding upon the Tribal Business Council, provided that at least 30 percent of the eligible voters shall vote in such referendum.

Article IX - Land

Section 1. Allotted lands, including heirship lands, within the Fort Berthold Reservation shall continue to be held as heretofore by their present owners. It is recognized that under existing laws such lands may be inherited by the heirs of the present owner, whether or not they are members of the Affiliated Tribes. Likewise it is recognized that under existing laws the Secretary of the Interior may, in his discretion, remove restrictions upon such land, upon application by the Indian owner, whereupon the land will become subject to State taxes and may be mortgaged or sold. The right of the individual Indian to hold or part with his land, as under existing law, shall not be abrogated by anything contained in this Constitution, but the owner of restricted land, may with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, voluntarily convey his land to the Three Affiliated Tribes either in exchange for a money payment or in exchange for an assignment covering the same land, as hereinafter provided.

Sec. 2. The unallotted lands of the Fort Berthold Reservation and all lands which may hereafter be acquired by the Three Affiliated Tribes or by the United States in trust for t he Three Affiliated Tribes, shall be held as tribal lands, and no part of such land shall be mortgaged, sold, or ceded. Tribal lands shall not be allotted to individual Indians but may be assigned to members of the Three Affiliated Tribes, or leased, or otherwise used by the Tribes, as hereinafter provided.

Sec. 3. In the leasing of tribal lands or the granting of grazing permits, Departmental grazing regulations shall be observed and no lease or permit shall be granted to a nonmember unless it shall appear that no Indian cooperative association or individual member of the Three Affiliated Tribes is able and willing to use the land and pay a reasonable fee for such use.

Sec. 4. In any standard assignment of tribal lands which are now owned by the tribe or which may be hereafter purchased for the tribe by the United States, or purchased by the tribe out of tribal funds, preference shall be given, first, to members of the tribe who have been born since the allotment of land on the Fort Berthold Reservation and who have reached legal age and desire to establish a home but have no land or interests in land; and secondly, to heads of families which have no allotted lands or interests in allotted lands but shall have already received assignments consisting of less than an economic unit of agricultural land or other land or interests in land of equal value. Such economic unit shall be determined from time to time by the Tribal Business Council. No
allotted member of the tribe who may hereafter have the restrictions upon his land removed and whose land may thereafter be alienated shall be entitled to receive an assignment of land as a landless Indian.

The Tribal Business Council may if it sees fit, charge a reasonable fee based upon the value at the time of approval of an assignment made under this section.

Assignments made under this section shall be for the primary purpose of establishing homes for landless Indians, and shall be known as "Standard" assignments.

Sec. 5. If any member of the tribe holding a standard assignment shall for a period of two (2) years, fail to use the land so assigned or shall use such land for any unlawful purpose his assignment may be canceled by the Tribal Business Council after due notice and an opportunity to be heard, and the said land may be reassigned in accordance with the provisions of section 4 of this Article.

Upon the death of any Indian holding a "standard" assignment his heirs or other individuals designated by him, by will or written request, shall have a preference in the reassignment of the land, provided such persons are members of the Three Affiliated Tribes who would be eligible to receive
"standard" assignments.

Sec. 6. Assignments under this section shall be known as "exchange" assignments. Any member of the tribe who owns an allotment or any share of heirship land or patent-in-fee land may voluntarily transfer his interest in such land to the tribe in exchange for an assignment to the same land or other land of equal value. If the assignee prefers, he may receive, in lieu of a specific tract of land, a proportionate share in a larger grazing unit.

Sec. 7. "Exchange" assignments may be used by the assignee or leased by him to Indian cooperative associations, to individual members of the tribe, or, if no individual Indian or Indian cooperative association is able and willing to rent the land at a reasonable fee, such assignments may be leased to non-Indians, in the same manner as allotted lands.

Sec. 8. Upon the death of the holder of any exchange assignment , such land shall be reassigned by the Tribal Business Council to his heirs or devisees subject to the following conditions:

A.  Such lands may not be reassigned to any heir or devisee who is not a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, except that a life assignment may be made to the surviving widower, widow, or child of the holder of such assignment. 
B.  Such lands may not be reassigned to any heir or devisee who already holds more than 320 acres of grazing land, or other land or interests in land of equal value, either under allotment or under assignment. 
C.  Such land may not be subdivided among heirs or devisees into units too small for convenient management. No area of grazing shall be subdivided into units smaller than one hundred and sixty (160) acres, and no area of irrigated land shall be subdivided into units smaller than ten  (10) acres, and no area of nonirrigated farming land shall be subdivided into units smaller than forty (40) acres except that land used for buildings or other improvements may be divided to suit the convenience of the parties. Where it is impossible to divide the land properly among the eligible heirs or devisees grazing permits or interests in tribal lands of the same value as the assignments of the decedent. 
D.  If there are no eligible heirs or devisees of the decedent, the land shall be eligible for reassignment in accordance with the provisions of section 4 of this Article.

Sec. 9. Improvements of any character made upon assigned lands may be bequeathed to and inherited by members of the Three Affiliated Tribes under such regulations as the Tribal Business Council shall provide. No permanent improvements shall be removed without the consent of the Council.

Sec. 10. Assignments may be exchanged between members of the Three Affiliated Tribes by common consent in such manner as the Tribal Business Council shall designate.

Sec. 11. Tribal land which is not leased or assigned, including tribal timber reserves, shall be managed by the Tribal Business Council for the benefit of the members of the entire tribe, and any cash income derived from such land shall accrue to the benefit of the tribe as a whole.

Sec. 12. Tribal funds in the United States Treasury may be used with the consent of the Secretary of the Interior, to acquire land, under the following conditions:

A.  Land within the Fort Berthold Reservation or adjacent to the boundaries thereof, excepting allotments not in heirship status, may be purchased by or for the Three Affiliated Tribes. 
B.  Land owned by any member of the tribe who desires to leave the reservation permanently may be purchased by the tribe under such terms as may be agreed upon.

Sec. 13. Applications for assignments shall be filed with the Secretary of Tribal Business Council, and shall be in writing setting forth the name of the person or persons applying for the land and as accurate a description of the land desired as the circumstances will permit. Notices of all applications received by the Secretary shall be posted by him in the agency office and in at least three conspicuous places in the district in which the land is located for not less than 20 days before action is taken by the Council. Any member of the tribe wishing to oppose the granting of an assignment shall do so in writing, setting forth his objections to be filed with the Secretary of the Tribal Business Council, and may, if he so desires, appear before the Tribal Business Council to present evidence. The Secretary of the Tribal Business Council shall furnish the Superintendent or other officer in charge of the agency a complete record of all actions taken by the Tribal Business Council on applications for assignments of land and a complete record of assignments shall be kept in the agency office and shall be open for inspection by members of the tribe. Forms for assignments shall be prepared by the Tribal Business Council, subject to approval by the Secretary of the Interior.

Article X - Amendments

This Constitution and Bylaws may be amended by a majority vote of the qualified voters of the tribe voting at an election called for that purpose by the Secretary of the Interior, provided that at least thirty (30) percent of those entitled to vote shall vote in such election; but no amendment shall become effective until it shall have been approved by the Secretary of the Interior. It shall be the duty of the Secretary of the Interior to call an election on any proposed amendment when requested by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Tribal Council, or upon presentation of a petition signed by one-third (1/3) of the qualified voters.
 

 Source: United States Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Affairs
United States Government Printing Office: Washington: 1936
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