Citizen Potawatomi approve constitution revision

Posted by Michael Dodson on August 16, 2007

Citizen Potawatomi Nation voters have overwhelmingly approved a historic CPN Constitution revision. The final, unofficial vote total is 1806 yes votes, 374 no votes; 82.84% of voters voted yes.

The proposal also met a second approval hurdle, having at least 30% of CPN members who registered for the election actually cast ballots. The 2180 who voted represent 65.7% of the 3318 who registered.

Approval creates a 16-member CPN legislature. Half the members will be elected at-large from Oklahoma to represent their fellow Citizen Potawatomis in the state. The other eight members will each represent a legislative district outside Oklahoma. Tribal members in each district will elect the representative from their district.

CPN officials believe their Nation is the first Indian tribe in the United States to extend such participation in tribal government to members who live outside the tribal jurisdiction, to say nothing of those who live anywhere in the United States.

The change in the Citizen Potawatomi Nation‚s basic form of government is designed to accomplish two goals ˆ extend more input into their government‚s decisions to tribal members who live outside Oklahoma and take a major step toward a three-branch government with checks and balances.

The Citizen Potawatomi Nation currently has an enrollment of approximately 26,600. About 10,000 of those members live in Oklahoma. Tribal leaders say those members who live away from the tribe‚s jurisdiction deserve an opportunity to influence their government‚s decisions on enacting laws and writing a budget.

To this point, the CPN has been governed by a five-member Business Committee. The entire Business Committee serves as a legislature. Three of its members ˆthe Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Secretary-Treasurer- comprise the Nation‚s executive committee. Under provisions of this constitutional revision, all three, along with the other two Business Committee members, will be members of the legislature. Tribal officials plan a subsequent constitutional amendment to move them out of the legislature into a solely administrative branch of the tribal government.

This constitutional revision accomplished a third goal. It removed the U.S. Interior Secretary‚s authority to veto proposed changes in the CPN constitution.

The existing Business Committee now faces the task, within 10 days, of drawing the boundaries for eight, population-balanced legislative districts. Within 120 days, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation must conduct elections for 11 legislators ˆ three additional lawmakers from within Oklahoma and one for each of the eight districts outside the state.

Michael Dodson

Public Information Director

Citizen Potawatomi Nation


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