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Chickasaw Constitution

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The Chickasaw clan system, as a social and government structure, had been disintegrating slowly since the mid 1700s with European contact. By the time of Removal in 1837, the Chickasaw people had developed and were operating under a code of written laws. These laws were abandoned when the Chickasaw Nation was placed as a district within the government of the Choctaws in Indian Territory. Unhappy with this arrangement, Chickasaw leadership campaigned for separation. This was granted with a treaty agreement signed in 1855.

In 1856, the Chickasaw people gathered at Good Spring on Pennington Creek in Tishomingo to draft their own constitution. It provided for a three-department system of government—executive, legislative and judicial. With minor changes over the years, the document served the Chickasaw people well until the dissolution of the tribal government in 1906 in preparation for Oklahoma Statehood.

Following Oklahoma statehood, the Chickasaw people resisted federal assimilation policies by embracing their unique and vibrant social and cultural identities. Chickasaws began the work needed to enact change and reaffirm the right to self-governance.

In 1971, the first tribal election since statehood took place. That election was a significant step in the exciting but challenging process of reestablishing the Chickasaw Nation government.

Chickasaw officials worked tirelessly to ensure a new constitution would fit the needs of a modern Chickasaw society. The ratification of the 1983 Chickasaw Nation Constitution reestablished a three-department system of government to serve the Chickasaw people. It is the foundation of our tribal government and asserts the inherent sovereignty our people have defended for generations.

Last Updated: 09/25/2018