Constitution Of The Three Affiliated Tribes
Of The Fort Berthold Indian
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
adopt resolutions regulating the procedure of the Tribal Business Council and
other tribal agencies and tribal officials of
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
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
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
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.
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"
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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