By JONAH LOSSIAH
ONE FEATHER STAFF
June 13 marked the date of another Tribal Council session with no real answers for a proposed Constitution for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI).
The EBCI Tribal Council voted to withdraw a resolution that would have put the document up for vote in this September’s general election. The Citizens for a Constitution group was given a deadline of July 1 to get a document submitted.
Now, a September referendum looks to be out of reach.
The constitution had gone through two works sessions in the last few weeks, and during those it became apparent that Tribal Council had many issues issues with the proposed document. These included distinctions in voting age and qualifications to run for office, as well as many others.
To be clear, this resolution was not to enact a constitution, but to allow it to go up for vote.
One of the issues consistently brought up at the June 13 Council session was community representation in the Citizens for a Constitution.
“What the communities would like to do is to put one person from each community club … on the Constitution Board,” said Wolftown Rep. Bo Crowe.
The issue is there is no established Constitution Board at this time. The Citizens for a Constitution is a completely open committee and has encouraged participation from anyone in the Tribe. They have consistently held open meetings at the EOC, but turnout and feedback has been sparse. The need for representation is not a matter the group has any control over.
What’s next in the process is up to the group, though. While Council was not ready to pass this resolution, some Council representatives encouraged the group to continue working.
“To me, it seems that the general consensus is that we all agree that we need a constitution. That’s just the bottom-line of it,” said Wolftown Rep. Jeremy Wilson.
The group could decide to continue working with Council, or to try and form a set a committee to help with membership and funding. Another direction could be to work towards a petition to get the constitution up for vote.
In order for a petition to be eligible for a vote, it must get signatures from 33 percent of the voting populace. If it managed to get these signatures, it would then be called to vote. For it to pass, it would need a minimum of 51 percent of the registered voters to participate, and a majority of those to vote in favor.
Nothing is decided of yet, and there are a lot of routes that the committee could go in the near future.
“We definitely need to have that discussion to see if we need to take a different direction, but I do feel like the community wants to continue working on it and continue moving forward to make improvements,” said Anita Lossiah, a member of the Citizens for a Constitution.