Constitution of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

June is an Important Month in Choctaw History

Chahta Hopaki Isht Anumpa ya Bissa Hvshi yvt Na Fehna

Published June 24, 2024

By Chief Gary Batton

Audio in Choctaw Language

The Choctaw Nation will always protect the right of our sovereignty and self-empowerment – a right that our ancestors fought and died for in order that our nation would live on.

The Choctaw Nation is governed by the Choctaw Nation Constitution, which was ratified by the people on June 9, 1984. Forty years ago, this month the approval or ratification of the constitution provided for an executive, a legislative and a judicial branch of government. The chief of the Choctaw Nation is elected every four years, Tribal Council members are elected from single-member districts for four-year terms. The legislative authority of the tribe is vested in the Tribal Council, which consists of 12 members, one for each of the 12 districts across our reservation.

That important June date in the history of the Choctaw Nation should always be remembered as the day we came together as a tribe and forged our modern government. Our tribal members, leadership and elders united and instituted laws that would forever steer the tribe to our modern government that would create paths for the accomplishments that we enjoy today as Chahta.

Some other noteworthy dates to consider in the creation of the government of the Choctaw Nation, include:

  • In 1860, the foundation of our current Choctaw Constitution was written and filed with the federal government.
  • In 1971, the U.S. Congress restored the right of the Five Tribes to democratically elect their own chief.
  • In 1978, the General Council was formed to help create a new Choctaw constitution. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma was adopted as the tribe’s official name.
  • In 1979, a group was working toward writing a new constitution when a separate group filed a lawsuit to re-establish the 1860 constitution.
  • In 1981, the Federal court ruled that the 1860 Choctaw Constitution was still valid.
  • In 1983, the final (and current) constitution was written to comply with an order by a district judge in Washington, D.C., to merge the 1979 and 1860 constitutions. Among other things, this constitution changed the blood quantum requirements and gave women the right to vote.
  • After the constitution was written, it was approved by voters in 1983 and is the document the Choctaw Nation uses today.
  • Until 1983, Choctaw government consisted of just the chief…The Chief had an office with a part-time secretary in the old federal building at Third and Evergreen in Durant. After receiving a grant, he was able to hire Harry Caudell from the Talihina area as Assistant Chief. That made up the entire government of the Choctaw Nation.
  • On June 9, 1984, the Choctaw Constitution was ratified by the Choctaw people.

Our Choctaw Constitution cemented the power of our sovereignty and identity after the federal government attempted to eradicate the tribes from the 1880s to the 1950s. Essentially, the 1860 Constitution survived that entire historical period, and was updated and implemented in its current form in 1983. The works of our ancestors, who battled for their rights as Choctaw and as U.S. Citizens, should always be remembered and glorified in our history. The Choctaw Constitution is a stark reminder of the resiliency, fight and work of our Tushka Warrior ancestors that came before us and their battle for our rights as a sovereign nation and self-empowered tribe.

The rights you have today as Choctaw tribal members came from the struggles that our ancestors battled to safeguard our survival and ensure that Chahta had a better life than they had. The sacrifices made have given us a brighter future for the Choctaw Nation.

Yakoke and God Bless!