Constitution and laws of the Choctaw nation. Together with the treaties of 1855, 1865 and 1866. Published by authority and direction of the General council by Joseph P. Folsom ... Chahta Tamaha, 1869 online

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Online LibraryUnknownConstitution and laws of the Choctaw nation. Together with the treaties of 1855, 1865 and 1866. Published by authority and direction of the General council by Joseph P. Folsom ... Chahta Tamaha, 1869 → online text (page 1 of 36)
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1855, 1865 and 1866




Commissioned for the Purpose,




P E E F A C E .

THIS volume is believed to comprise all the Laws of the
Choctaw Nation now in force. Every effort has been made
to render it as complete as possible; yet it is probable
that some laws may be found herein which have been re-
pealed, and a few omissions may be detected. In some
cases, the compiler has been at a loss to decide as to the
present validity of several of the former enactments, having
no sufficient data for his guidance ; and he deemed it better
and safer, in such cases, to give them a place in this volume,
and leave the question of validitv and force thereof to be
decided by the proper tribunal. *

The compiler has been for some time engaged in trans-
lating the whole of this work into our native language. A
perfect and faithful translation is aimed at hence it is a
slow work. But it is now in a good state of forwardness,
and will be printed and published as soon as practicable
in all probability before the end of this year.

Choctaws have, for several years past, steadily demanded
to have the laws of their Nation printed in one volume.
That demand is now met ; and they will, without doubt, duly
appreciate and approve of the same. It will certainly be



found valuable for reference, and a guide, should it become
necessary to change or revise the organic structure of our
government, in compliance with treaty stipulations or other-

The compiler may, perhaps, state in this connection that
he has been collecting the laws ever enacted by the
Choctaws commencing with the earliest enactments east
of Mississippi, and down to this time and has succeeded
so well as to entertain a hope of publishing them entire
next year. It is thought that this work will show the pro-
gress of cur Nation in civil government, in the time of
nearly fifty years, more than any other work.





WE, the representatives of the people inhabiting the Choctaw
Nation, contained within the following limits, to wit : Beginning
at a point on the Arkansas river, one hundred paces east of old Fort
Smith, where the western boundary line of the State of Arkansas
crosses the said river, and running thence due south to Red River ;
thence up Red River to the point where the meridian of one
hundred degrees west longitude crosses the same ; thence north
along said meridian to the main Canadian river ; thence down
said river to its junction with the Arkansas river ; thence down
said river to the place of beginning, except the territory bounded
as follows, to wit : Beginning on the north bank of Red River, at
the mouth of Island Bayou, where it empties into Red River,
about twenty-six miles on a straight line, below the mouth of
False Washita ; thence running a northwesterly course along the
main channel of said Bayou, to the junction of the three prongs,
of said Bayou, nearest the dividing ridge between Washita and
Low Blue rivers, as laid down on Capt. R. L. Hunter's map ;
thence northerly along the eastern prong of Island Bayou to its
source ; thence due north to the Canadian river ; thence west
along the main Canadian to the ninety-eighth degree of west
longitude ; thence south to Red River ; and thence down Red
River to the place of beginning ; Provided, however, if the line
running due north from the eastern source of Island Bayou, to
the main Canadian, shall not include Allen's or Wa-pa-nacka


Academy within the Chickasaw District ; then an offset shall
be made from said line, so as to leave said Academy two miles
within the Chickasaw District ; north, west, and south from the
lines of boundary, said boundaries being the limits of the Chick-
asaw District assembled in Convention at the town of Doaks-
ville, on Wednesday, the eleventh day of January,. one thousand
eight hundred and sixty, in pursuance of an act of the General
Council, Approved Oct. 24, 1859, in order to secure to the citizens
thereof the right of life, liberty and property, do ordain and es-
tablish the following Constitution and form of government, and
do mutually agree with each other to form ourselves into a free
and independent Nation, not inconsistent with the Constitution,
treaties and laws of the United States, by the name of the Choc-
taw Nation.


For the convenience and good government of the people of the
Choctaw Nation, we do make, ordain and establish four Districts
in this Nation, to be known by the following names and bounda-
ries, viz : Mosholatubbee District, Pushamataha District, Apuck-
shunnubbee District, and Hotubbee District.

The boundary line of Mosholatubbee District shall begin near
old Fort Smith, where the Arkansas boundary line crosses the Ar-
kansas River ; thence up said river to the Canadian Fork ; thence
up said Canadian to where the Chickasaw District boundary strikes
the same, as defined by the Treaty of 1855 ; thence along the said
boundary, to where it strikes the dividing ridge, between the Ca-
nadian and Red Rivers ; thence easterly along said dividing ridge
to the western boundary of the State of Arkansas ; thence along
said Arkansas line to the beginning.

The boundary of Apuckshunnubbee District shall begin on Red
River, where the Arkansas State line strikes the same ; thence
running up said river to the mouth of Kiamichi ; thence up said
river to the mouth of Jack's Fork ; thence up said Jack's Fork to
the old military road ; thence along said road to the boundary line
of Mosholatubbee District, on the top of the dividing ridge, be-
tween the Arkansas and Red Rivers ; thence easterly along said


boundary to the western boundary line of the State of Arkansas ;
thence along the said State line to the beginning.

The boundary of Pushamataha District shall begin on Red
River, at the mouth of Kiamichi ; thence running up said Red
River to the mouth of Island Bayou, to where the eastern bounda-
ry line of the Chickasaw District strikes said river, as defined by
the Treaty of 1855 ; thence along said boundary line to the divid-
ing ridge between the Canadian and Red Rivers ; thence easterly
along said ridge to the line of Mosholatubbee District, on the top
of the dividing ridge, to where the District line of Apuckshun-
nubbee District intersects Mosholatubbee District ; thence south-
erly along said line to the beginning.

The boundaries of Hotubbee District shall be embraced within
the limits of the ninety-eighth and one hundredth degree of west
longitude, and between Red River and Canadian river, known as
the " Lease Land."


DECLARATION OF RIGHTS. That the general, great and essential
principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and
established, we declare :

SEC. 1. That all free men, when they form a social compact,
are equal in rights, and that no man or set of men are entitled to
exclusive, separate public emolument or privileges from the com-
munity, but in consideration of public services.

SEC. 2. That all political power is inherent in the people, and
all free government are founded on their authority and established
for their benefit, and therefore they have at all times an inaliena-
ble and indefeasible right to alter, reform, or abolish their form
of government in such manner as they may think proper or ex-

SEC. 3. There shall be no establishment of religion by law.
No preference shall ever be given by law to any religious sects,
society, denomination or mode of worship. And no religious test
shall ever be allowed as a qualification to any public trust under
this government.

SEC. 4. No human authority ought in any case whatever to


control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of

v ">


SEC. 5. No person shall for the same offence be twice put in
jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall any person's property be taken
or applied to public use without the consent of the General Coun-
cil, and without just compensation being first made therefor.

SEC. 6. No person shall ever be appointed or elected to any
office in this nation for life or during good behaviour, but the
tenure of all offices shall be for some limited period of time, if the
person appointed or elected thereto so long behave well.

SEC. 7. The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.

SEC. 8. Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defence of
himself and his country.

SEC. 9. That the printing-press shall be free to every person,
and no law shall ever be made to restrain the rights thereof.
The free communication of opinion is one of the inviolable rights
of man, and every citizen may freely speak, write, and print on
any subject, being responsible for abuse of that liberty.

SEC. 10. That the people shall be secure in their persons,
houses, papers and possessions from unreasonable seizures and
searches, and that no warrant to search any place or to seize any
person or thing shall issue, without describing the place to be
searched and the person or thing to be seized as nearly as may
be, nor without probable cause supported by oath or affirmation.
But in all cases where suspicion rests on any person or persons of
conveying or secreting whisky or other intoxicating liquors, the
same shall be liable to search or seizure as may be hereafter pro-
vided by law.

SEC. 11. That no free man shall be taken, or imprisoned, or
disseized of his freehold liberties or privileges, or outlawed, or
exiled, or in any manner destroyed or deprived of his life, liberty,
and property, but by the judgment of his peers or the law of the

SEC. 12. No person shall ever be imprisoned for debt.

SEC. 13. That excessive bail shall not be required, nor exces-
sive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishments inflicted.

SEC. 14. That all courts shall be open, and every person for an


injury done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation, shall
have remedy by due course of law, and right and justice adminis-
tered without sale, denial or delay.

SEC. 15. That the citizens have a right in a peaceable manner,
fto assemble together for their common good, to instruct their
representatives, and apply to those invested with the powers of
the government for redress of grievances, or other proper pur-
poses, by petition, address or remonstrance.

SEC. 16. That no-power of suspending laws shall be exercised
except by the General Council or its authority.

SEC. It, That in all criminal prosecutions, the accused hath a
right to be heard by himself or counsel, or both, to demand the
nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted by the wit-
nesses against him, to have a compulsory process for obtaining
witnesses in his favor ; and in all prosecutions by indictment or
information, a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the
county or district where the offence was committed ; that he can-
not be compelled to give evidence against himself, nor can he be
deprived of his life, liberty, or property, but by due course of

SEC. 18. That all prisoners shall, before conviction, be bailable
by sufficient securities, except for capital offences, where the
proof is evident or the presumption great, and the privilege of the
writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in case
of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.

SEC. 19. That the General Council shall have power to pass
general laws in regard to the collection of fines, bonds, forfeitures,
and court fees, and direct the manner of such collection.

SEC. 20. No property qualification for eligibility to office, or
for the right of suffrage, shall ever be required by law in this

SEC. 21. No conviction for any offence shall work corruption
of blood and forfeiture of estate. The General Council shall pass
no bill of attainder, retrospective law, nor law impairing the obli-
gation of contracts.



SEC. 1. The powers of government of the Choctaw Nation shall
be divided into three distinct departments, and each of them con-
fined to a separate body of magistracy, to wit : Those which are
legislative to one, those which are executive to another, and those
which are judicial to another.

SEC. 2. No person, or collection of persons, being of one of
those departments, shall exercise any power properly belonging
to either of the others, except in the instances hereafter expressly
directed or permitted by the General Council.



r SEC. 1. The legislative power of this Nation shall be vested in
a General Council which shall consist of a Senate and House of
Representatives, and the style of their laws shall be, " Be it en-
acted by the General Council of the Choctaw Nation assembled."

SEC. 2. The Senate of the Choctaw Nation shall be composed
of four Senators from each district, chosen by the qualified elec-
tors thereof, for the term of two years.

SEC. 3. No person shall be a Senator who shall not have
attained the age of thirty years and been one year a citizen of
this Nation, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of
that District at least six months preceding his election for which
he shall be chosen.

SEC. 4. The House of Representatives shall be composed of
members chosen every year by the qualified electors in the sev-
eral counties of each district, at the ratio of one representative to
every one thousand citizens ; nevertheless when there is a frac-
tional number of five hundred or more citizens in any county,
they shall be entitled to one additional representative ; but when
the population of any one of the counties shall not reach the ratio
of one thousand, they shall still be allowed one representative.


SEC. 5. In case of death, resignation, or inability of any of the
senators or representatives, the Principal Chief shall have the
power to make temporary appointments and fill vacancies that
may occur in any of the counties.

SEC. 6. Xo person shall be a representative, unless he be a citi-
zen of this Nation, and shall have been an inhabitant thereof six
months next preceding his election, and the last month thereof a
resident of the county for which he shall be chosen, and shall have
attained the age of twnty-one years.

SEC. 7. The House of Representatives, when assembled, shall
choose a Speaker and its other officers, and the Senate shall choose
a President and its officers, and each shall judge of the qualifica-
tions and elections of its own members, but a contested election
shall be determined .in such manner as shall be directed by law..
A majority of each house shall constitute a quorum to do business,
but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may
compel the attendance of absent members in such manner and.
under such penalties as each house may provide.

SEC. 8. Every bill which shall have passed both houses of the
legislature shall be presented to the Principal Chief ; if he ap-
prove, he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his ob-
jections, to the house in which it shall have originated,, who shall,
enter the objections at large upon the journal and proceed to re-
consider it ; if, after such re-consideration, two-thirds of the
members present shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent with
the objections to the other house, by which it shall likewise be re-
considered ; if approved by two-thirds of the members present of
that house it shall become a law, but in such case the vote of-
both houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names
of the members voting for and against the bill be entered on the
journals of each house respectively ; if any bill shall not be re-
turned by the Principal Chief within three days (Sundays ex-
cepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall
become a law in like manner as if he had signed it. Every bill
presented to the Principal Chief one day previous to the adjourn-
ment of the legislature, and not returned to the house in which
it originated before its adjournment, shall become a law, and


have the same force and effect as if signed by the Principal

SEC. 9. Each house may determine the rules of its own pro-
ceedings, punish members for disorderly behavior, and with the
consent of two-thirds, expel a member, but not a second time for
the same cause.

SEC. 10. Each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings
and publish the same, and the yeas and nays of the members of
either House, on any question, shall at the desire of any three
members present, be entered on the journal.

SEC. 11. Each house may punish by imprisonment, during the
session, any person not a member, for disrespectful or disorderly
behavior in its presence, or for obstructing any of its proceed-
ings, provided such imprisonment shall not at any one time ex-
ceed forty-eight hours.

SEC. 12. Neither house shall, without the consent of the other,
adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that
in which they may be sitting.

SEC. 13. Each member of the General Council shall receive
from the public treasury a compensation for his services, which
may be increased or diminished by law ; but no increase of com-
pensation shall take effect during the session at which such in-
crease shall have been made.

SEC. 14. No person who hsdh heretofore been, or hereafter may
be a collector or holder of public moneys, shall have a seat in
either house of the General Council, until such person shall have
accounted for, and paid into the treasury, all sums for which he
may be accountable.

SEC. 15. The first election for Senators and Representatives
shall be general throughout the Nation, and shall be held on the
first Wednesday in August, 1860, and thereafter there shall be
biennial elections for Senators.

SEC. 16. Senators and Representatives shall, in all cases, ex-
cept of treason, felony, or breach of the peace, be privileged from
arrest during the session of the General Council, and in going to
and returning from the same.



SEC. 1. The judicial power of this Nation shall be vested in
one Supreme Court, in Circuit and County Courts.

SEC. 2. Until Hotubbee District shall be duly organized, and
officers elected therein under this Constitution, the Supreme Court
shall be composed of three Supreme Judges, one to be chosen
from Apuckshunubbee District, one from Pushamataha District,
and one from Mosholatubbee District, one of whom shall be styled,
Chief Justice, and two of whom shall constitute a quorum to do

SEC. 3. The Supreme Court shall have no jurisdiction but such
as properly belongs to a court of errors and appeals.

SEC. 4. The Supreme Judges shall have power to issue writs
and other process necessary to the exercise of their appellate juris-
diction, and shall have original jurisdiction only in such cases as
may hereafter be provided by law, and shall be conservators of
the peace throughout the Nation.

SEC. 5. The Circuit Courts shall be composed of one Circuit
Judge in each District, and shall have original jurisdiction in all
criminal cases which shall not be otherwise provided for by law,
and exclusive original jurisdiction of all crimes amounting to
felony, and original jurisdiction of all civil cases which shall not
be cognizable before the Judges of the county, until otherwise
directed by law, and original jurisdiction in all matters of con-
tracts, and in all matters of controversy where the same is over
fifty dollars. It shall hold its term at such times and places in
each district as are now specified by law or may hereafter be pro-

SEC. 6. The Circuit Courts shall exercise a superintending
control over the County Courts, and shall have power to issue all
necessary writs and process to carry into effect their general and
specific powers under such regulations and restrictions as may be
provided by law.

SEC. 7. The Circuit Judge in each District shall be elected by


the qualified voters of their respective Districts, and the General
Council by a joint vote of both houses shall elect the Supreme
Judges. Any person receiving the highest number of votes cast
shall be elected.

SEC. 8. The Judges of the Supreme Court shall be at least
thirty years of age, and the Circuit Judge of the Circuit Courts
shall be at least twenty-five years of .age before they shall be eli-
gible to hold the office, and when elected they shall serve for the
term of four years from the date of their commission ; they shall
appoint their own clerks under such provisions as the law may

SEC. 9. The Judges of the Supreme Court and Circuit Courts
shall at stated times receive such compensation for their services,
which shall not be increased or diminished during the term for
which they are elected, as may be determined by law. They shall
not be allowed any fees or perquisites of office.

SEC. 10. There shall be a court established in each county of
this Nation, to be called County Courts, which shall have jurisdic-
tion in all matters relative to disbursement of money for county
purpose, and in every other case that may be necessary to the
internal improvements and local concerns of their respective

SEC. 11. The Judges of the County Courts shall in no case
have jurisdiction to try and determine any criminal case or penal
offence against this Nation, but may sit as examining courts, and
commit, discharge, or recognize to the court having jurisdiction
for further trial of all offences against the peace and dignity of
this Nation ; for the foregoing purposes, they shall have power
to issue all necessary writs and process, to bind any person to
keep the peace, or to give security for his good behavior.

SEC. 12. The county Judges shall be elected by the qualified
electors of their respective counties, and shall be commissioned
by the Principal Chief, and shall hold their office for the term
of two years.

SEC. 13. No Judge shall preside on the trial of any cause in the
event of which he may be interested, or where either of the
parties shall be connected to him by affinity or consanguinity


within such degrees as may be prescribed by law, or in which he
may have been of council, or have presided in any Circuit or
County Courts, except by consent of all the parties. In case any
or all of the Judges of the Supreme Court shall be thus disqualified
from presiding on any cause, or causes, the Court or Judges thereof
shall certify the same to the Principal Chief of the Nation, who
shall immediately commission the requisite number of men learned
in the law for the trial and determination thereof. But in case
such disqualification should take place in any of the Circuit or
County Judges, the Circuit or County Judge shall have the power
to appoint a substitute for that particular case for which he may
be disqualified.

SEC. 14. Judges shall not charge juries with regard to matter
of fact, but may state the testimony and declare the law.

SEC, 15. There shall be a prosecuting Attorney elected in each
District by the qualified electors of their respective District whose
compensation and term of service shall be prescribed by law.

SEC. 16. The General Council shall have power by law to
prescribe the manner of holding and determining suits in the Cir-
cuit and County Courts and the manner of granting appeals.

SEC. 17. The County Judges in addition to their respective
duties that may be required of them by law, shall be Judges of
the Courts of Probate and have such jurisdiction in matters rela-
tive to the estate of deceased persons, executors, administrators
and guardians as may be prescribed by law, until otherwise
directed by the General Council.

SEC. 18. Writs and other process shall run in the name of the
Choctaw Nation, and bear test and be signed by the Clerks of their
respective Courts from which they issue, and all indictments shall
conclude against the peace and dignity of the Choctaw Xatiou.

SEC. 19. The General Council shall provide by law for deter-

Online LibraryUnknownConstitution and laws of the Choctaw nation. Together with the treaties of 1855, 1865 and 1866. Published by authority and direction of the General council by Joseph P. Folsom ... Chahta Tamaha, 1869 → online text (page 1 of 36)