CONSTITUTION OF THE SMITH RIVER RANCHERIA, CA.

 

PREAMBLE

 

We, the members of the Tolowa Indians of the Smith River Rancheria, in order to establish a more effective form of Tribal Government, to better exercise the privileges and powers of self-government, to preserve Tolowa tribal customs, to recognize our rights and privileges as members, to improve the economic conditions for ourselves and our Rancheria lands, and to acquire lands as necessary for self-determination and the economy of our people, do hereby, establish this Constitution for the members of the Rancheria.

 

The Tolowa Indians of the Smith River Rancheria shall hereinafter be referred as the Rancheria.

 

ARTICLE I

Aboriginal Lands, Territory and Jurisdiction

 

Section 1.  The Aboriginal Lands of the Rancheria territory shall include the land bounded by Wilson Creek to the South, the Sixes River to the North, East to the Applegate watershed in the Coastal Range, and West the Pacific Ocean, including Point St. George Lighthouse.

 

The above lands constitute our place of origin and our continued habitation and occupancy as demonstrated by the ancestral villages of our people within these boundaries.  Yan'-daa-k'vt ("Yontockett") as the spiritual center of the Tolowa world, and Xaa-wan'-k'wvt ("Howonquet") is the seat of the Tolowa government.

 

Section 2.  The Rancheria's Territory consists of all Aboriginal Lands, service areas, and all lands subsequently and hereafter acquired by and for the Rancheria, whether within or outside of the Rancheria's Aboriginal Lands.

 

Section 3.  It is hereby declared that title to these lands includes, but is not limited to all surface and subsurface rights, and all accretions thereof.

 

Section 4.  These lands shall be recognized by the United States Government as belonging to the Rancheria, and shall be shown on the maps of the United States.  Since the Rancheria has at no time relinquished any of its inherent sovereign powers, we remain a sovereign nation within the United States, with the right to govern all the lands within our territory.

 

Section 5. Jurisdiction.  The laws of the Rancheria shall extend to:

(a).  All Rancheria citizens; all persons who are eligible to be enrolled as Rancheria citizens, wherever located;

(b).  All persons throughout and within the Rancheria's Territory of service area who consent to the Rancheria's jurisdiction;

(c).  All activities throughout and within the Rancheria's Territory, or outside of the Rancheria's Territory if the activities are causing an adverse impact on the political integrity, economic security, resources or health and welfare of the Rancheria and its citizens; and,

(d).  All property, lands, waters, natural resources, cultural resources, air space, minerals, fish, forests, wildlife, and other resources, and any interest therein, now or in the future., throughout and within the Rancheria's Territory.

 

ARTICLE II

Membership

 

Section 1.  The membership of the Rancheria shall consist of persons who meet one of the following eligibility requirements::

(a).  All persons listed on the Plan of Distribution of Assets of the Smith River Rancheria, July 28, 1960 and their lineal descendants.

(b).  All siblings of those individuals listed as distributees on the Distribution Plan of July 28, 1960 as well as the lineal descendents of such siblings.

(c.  Those persons who have successfully petitioned for membership under the provisions of Section 2 of this Article.

(d).  Persons who may be adopted pursuant to Section 5 of this Article.

 

Section 2.   A person of Tolowa Indian blood who satisfies the requirements 1 of this Article may petition the Tribal Council for admission into membership.  The Tribal Council shall submit the petition to the Rancheria membership in an election.  Upon the concurrence of a majority of those voting in the election, the petitioner as well as the lineal descendants of such petitioner, upon submitting their enrollment application and who satisfy the requirements of 1 of this Article shall be accepted into full membership with all rights and responsibilities of members, and her/his name shall be added to the official membership roll.

 

Section 3.  A person shall not be eligible for membership if she/he is a recognized member of another Tribe; provided, a "recognized member of another tribe" is one who has been listed on the official membership roll of, or has received a land allotment on another Reservation or Rancheria.

 

Section 4.  A person shall not be considered ineligible for membership to the Rancheria:

(a).  If she/he is enrolled with another Tribe through a parent and yet meets the membership criteria of the Rancheria; provided any person wishing to be enrolled as a member of the Rancheria must relinquish his or her membership with any other Tribe, Reservation, or Rancheria of which she/he may be a member; or

(b).  If she/he inherits or acquired (not through allotment) land or another reservation or shared in the benefits of other Tribe and otherwise meets the membership criteria of the Rancheria.

 

Section 5.

(a).  All members of the Rancheria shall be listed on the official membership roll.  The initial roll shall consist of all persons listed on the Plan of Distribution of the assets of the Smith River Rancheria, July 28, 1960.

(b).  All persons accepted into membership under any provision of this article shall be listed on the official membership roll.  Persons may be deleted from the official membership roll only if their inclusion on the roll violates the provisions of this Constitution and only after that person has been provided with notice of the proposed deletion and an opportunity to be heard thereon.

 

Section 6.  The Council shall have the power to enact ordinances which establish rules and regulations governing future membership, loss of membership, adoption, procedures for enrollment, and preparation and approval of an official membership roll.  Such ordinances shall be consistent with Article XII of this Constitution; provided, no person shall be adopted into membership except as provided in Section 6 (Honorary Membership) unless such person is  of Tolowa Indian Blood.

 

Section 7.  The Council shall have the power to enact ordinances providing for the adoption of persons into honorary membership.  Such honorary membership shall not entitle any person to any rights in Rancheria property or assets or to any other right or privilege guaranteed by this Constitution.  Persons having honorary membership shall not be listed on the official membership roll.

 

ARTICLE III

Governing Body

 

Section 1.  The governing body of the Rancheria shall be the Tribal Council.  The Council shall consist of seven (7) members.

 

Section 2.  The Council members shall be elected sixty (60) days after ratification of the Constitution.  The three (3) Council members who receive the most votes shall hold office for three years; the two (2) Council members who receive the next highest number of votes shall serve for two years; and the two (2) Council members shall serve for one year.  Thereafter, each Council member elected shall serve three (3) years.

 

Section 3.  At its first regular meeting after the annual election, the Council shall elect officers from among the current Council members.  Separate elections shall be held at the time for Chairperson, for Vice Chairperson, for Secretary and for Treasurer.  Voting shall be by secret ballot.

 

Section 4.  Officers of the Council shall serve for a period of one year, or until their successors are chosen in accordance with Section 3 of this Article.

 

Section 5.  Any eligible voter, as defined in Article IX, Section 4, shall be eligible to a candidate for election to the Tribal Council.

 

Section 6.  The Council shall meet on the first Regular Meeting after the election.  At that time, the Council member shall take office and shall take an oath administered either by the Chairperson or Vice Chairperson or the Council or any other Council member who is already in office.

 

Section 7.  Members of the Tribal Council shall avoid actual or potential Conflicts of Interest in the performance of their duties, including situations when Council Member is in a position to influence a decision that may result in a personal gain for that Council Member or for a relative as the result of Smith River Rancheria's business dealings.

 

ARTICLE IV

Powers of the Council

 

Section 1.  The Council shall have the following powers:

(a).  To represent the Rancheria and act in all matters that concern the general welfare of the Rancheria and to make decisions not inconsistent with, or contrary to, this Constitution or the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(b).  To negotiate and make contracts with federal, state, and local Governments and with any individual, firm, or company.

(c).  To employ legal counsel, and to set the legal counsel's fees, in accordance with federal law.

(d).  To acquire lands for the Rancheria.

(e).  To veto the sale, disposition, lease or encumbrance of Rancheria lands held by Rancheria funds, or other Rancheria assets.

(f).  To protect and preserve the wildlife and natural resources of the Rancheria; to regulate hunting, fishing, and trapping on the Rancheria.

(g).  To cultivate our arts, crafts, culture, language and history.

(h).  To negotiate permits and leases for business, home site and other purposes, and generally to provide for proper use and development of all Rancheria property.

(i).   To appropriate Rancheria funds for Rancheria purposes.

(J).  To enact ordinances to regulate the use of all Rancheria lands through zoning, taxation, and otherwise.

(k).  To waive the Rancheria's immunity from suit.

(l).  To manage and control land held by the Rancheria, and to establish community enterprises, and other economic projects and programs for the Rancheria.

(m).  To authorize, charter, and regulate associations and corporations formed by members of the Rancheria for business or charitable purposes and to authorize formation of corporations under Federal and State Law or economic, charitable or public purposes.

(n).  To provide by resolution or ordinance the conditions upon which non-members may enter or remain on the Rancheria and to provide for the removal or exclusion from the Rancheria of any non-members whose presence may be injurious to Rancheria members or the interests of the Rancheria.

(o).  To regulate its own procedures, to appoint subordinate committees, commissions, boards, Rancheria officials and employee not otherwise provided for in this Constitution to prescribe their salaries, tenure and duties.   Appointees may or may not be Rancheria members.

(p).  To establish and prescribe rules for governing Rancheria courts.

(q).  To accept diplomatic gifts on behalf of the Rancheria members.

(r).  The Council may exercise such further powers, consistent with this Constitution as needed to carry out the powers listed herein.

 

Section 2.  The forgoing enumeration of powers shall not be construed to limit the powers of the Rancheria and it in no way shall be deemed an abdication or forfeiture of the Rancheria's inherent attributes of sovereignty, and such powers may be exercised through the adoption of appropriate amendments to this Constitution.

 

Section 3.  Secretarial Review:  Any resolution or ordinance which, by the terms of this Constitution or federal law is subject to the review or approval of the Secretary of the Interior shall be given to the Superintendent of the Northern California Agency of the Bureau of Indian Affairs within fifteen days of enactment.  If the Superintendent shall fail to act on any ordinance or resolution submitted to him by the Council within ten days of receipt, the Council shall inquire of the Superintendent as to his reasons to be insufficient it may, by a majority vote, refer the ordinance or resolution to the Secretary of the Interior.  If within ninety days from the date the resolution or ordinance is submitted to the Secretary, the Secretary shall fail to act thereon, said ordinance or resolution shall become effective.

 

ARTICLE V

Duties of Officers

 

Section 1.  The Chairperson

(a).  The Chairperson shall preside at all meetings of the tribal council.

(b).  The Chairperson shall execute on behalf of the Rancheria all contracts and other documents approved by the Council.

(c).  The Chairperson shall have general supervision of all other offices, delegates and committees of the Rancheria and see that their duties are properly performed.

(d).  When the Council is not in session the Chairperson shall be the official representative of the Rancheria.

(e).  The Chairperson shall appoint or remove all committee members, subject to the approval of the Tribal Council.

(f).  The Chairperson shall vote only in case of a tie vote at the Council meeting.

 

Section 2.  Vice Chairperson

In the absence of the Chairperson, the Vice Chairperson shall preside and shall have all powers, privileges and duties of the Chairperson.  She/he shall have power to vote at any meeting.

 

Section 3.  Council Secretary

The Secretary shall have charge of all Rancheria correspondence and it shall be her/his duty to submit copies of all resolutions and ordinances to the Council, as well as to perform other duties as requested by the Council.  The Secretary shall have the power to vote all meetings of the Council.

 

Section 4.  Treasurer

(a).  The Treasurer shall accept, give receipt for, keep and safeguard all funds in custody of the Council.  She/he shall deposit all such funds as directed by the Council and shall keep accurate records of such funds and shall report on all receipts and expenditures and the amount and nature of all funds in her/his custody to the Council at regular meetings and at such other times as requested by the Council.  She/he shall not pay or disburse any funds in custody of the Council except when properly authorized to do so by the Council.

(b).  The books and records of the Treasurer shall be audited at least once a year by a competent auditor employed by the Council, and at such other times as the Council may direct.

(c).  The Treasurer shall be required to give a surety bond satisfactory to the Council.

(d).  All checks shall be counter signed by those appointed by the Council to do so.

(e).  The Treasurer shall have the power to vote at meetings of the Council.

 

Section 5.  Any Council member who neglects to perform her/his assigned duties / or fails to attend regular council meetings without good cause will be in dereliction of her/his duties and action will be taken against her/him.

 

ARTICLE VI

Meetings of the Council

 

Section 1.  Inauguration of Council Members

At the first regularly scheduled council meeting following the election of the Council members, new members of the Council shall be inaugurated and take office, and this Council shall see that all new Council members have a correct and clear understanding of the Constitution and the management of the Rancheria affairs, as well as the rules of conduct. of the Council.

 

Section 2.  Regular Meetings

Regular meetings of the Council shall be held as designated in a resolution of the Council.  Such designation shall follow as closely as possible the dates and times being followed prior to the adoption of this Constitution.

 

Section 3.  Special Meetings

Special meetings may be called by the Chairperson on her/his own motion, or upon the written request of at least three Council members.  Written notice shall be given to all Council members at least five (5) days prior to special meetings.

 

Section 4.  Emergency Meetings

The Chairperson may, without first providing five (5) days notice to the Council members, call an emergency meeting when a matter arises requiring the Council's immediate attention.

 

Section 5.

(a).  In the conduct of Council business "Roberts Rules of Order" shall apply, expect when they are inconsistent with the express provisions of this Constitution.  All regular meetings shall be open to all members of the Rancheria.  Rancheria members may participate with the consent of the Chairperson.

(b).  The order of business at any regular or special meeting of the Council shall be as follows:

            (1)  Call to Order

            (2)  Roll Call

            (3)  Moment of Silence

            (4)  Approval of the Minutes of the last meeting

            (5)  Unfinished Business

            (6)  Reports

            (7)  New Business

            (8)  Adjourned

(c).  Voting at the Council meetings may be by "voice" but at the discretion of the Chairperson, or upon the request of any two (2) members of the Council, a secret vote may be taken.

 

Section 6. Matters of business for the Council shall be decided by a majority vote.  A quorum (a number competent to transact business) of the Council shall be four (4) or more members, which may include the Chairperson or Vice Chairperson.

 

Section 7.  Each official whether elected or appointed shall take an oath of office prior to assuming her/his duties, which shall be as follows:

"I ___________ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution laws and policies of the Smith River Rancheria, that I will carry out faithfully and impartially, the duties of my office to the best of ability, that I will cooperate, promote, and protect the best interests of my Rancheria in accordance with this Constitution."

 

ARTICLE VII

Removal, Resignation and Recall From Office

 

Section 1.  If a member of the Council is found by the Council to have failed in the performance of her/his duties through gross neglect of duty, misconduct reflecting on the dignity of the Rancheria or the Council or repeated unexcused absences from official function, that member shall be removed from her/his position as a member of Council upon passage of a resolution by a 2/3 vote of Council.

 

Section 2.  Prior to removal pursuant to Section 1, a member of the Council who is accused of failing to perform her/his duties shall be given an opportunity to answer any and all charges at a designated Council meeting.  The decision of the Council shall be final.

 

Section 3.  If a member of the Council is removed from office pursuant to this Article, the position shall be declared vacant by the Council and the position shall be filled pursuant to Article VII[I] of this Constitution.

 

Section 4.  Recall

(a).  The registered voters of the Rancheria shall have the right to recall any member of the Council by filing a petition with the Council Secretary signed by at least thirty percent (30%) of the registered voters.  The Council Secretary shall provide a list of registered voters, if requested by petitioners.

       Before signatures are obtained, the petitioners must file a copy of the petition with the Council Secretary.  Any petition not filed with the Council Secretary before signatures are obtained shall be invalid.

(b).  Within ten (10) days after receipt of the valid recall petition, the Council shall notify the accused Council person by registered mail, return receipt requested, and request in writing her/his presence at a meeting with the Council.  The accused shall be advised of the charges against her/him and shall further be advised of her/his right to present her/his defense at a general meeting of the Rancheria.  The Council shall hold an election on all recall within ten (10) days of notifying the accused.

(c).  Voting shall be by secret ballot and at least thirty percent (30%) of the registered voters must vote in such an election.  A simple majority shall prevail.  If the vote is against recall, the councilperson shall reassume her/his office in good standing.  If the vote is for recall, her/his office shall be considered vacant.

(d).  If the councilperson who is the subject of the recall election is an officer, then a successful recall terminates his status as councilperson and officer.  Thereafter, the council select a new member to fill that office in accordant with Article [V]III.

 

ARTICLE VIII

VACANCY

 

Any vacancies which occur on the Council as a result of recall, removal, resignation, or death shall be filled in the following manner:

 

When a vacancy occurs the Council shall appoint, by majority vote, a qualified Rancheria member to fill the vacancy until the next general election.  The appointed member shall not serve in the capacity of an Officer of the Council.  Should that appointed member be elected, that appointed member shall fulfill only the remainder of the original term of office.

 

ARTICLE IX

ELECTIONS

 

Section 1.  General elections to vote for Councilpersons shall be held every year on the third Saturday in May.  The voting place shall be as designated in an election ordinance.

 

Section 2.

(a).  All elections shall be announced by special notice posted at least thirty (30) days before the election at the voting place and other public places.  A reasonable effort will be made to contact all Rancheria members that are living off the Rancheria by mail, and absentee ballots shall be mailed to them.

(b).  Any elections held without proper notice shall be void.

 

Section 3.  Nominations for Councilpersons shall be made at a regular council meeting of the Rancheria.  Procedures for the nominations process shall be set forth in an election ordinance.  Provided, however, that each nominee shall be a member of the Rancheria who is registered to vote with the Rancheria, twenty-one (21) years of age at the time of nomination, who has never been convicted of a felony or a crime of moral turpitude in any jurisdiction, and has continually resided within Del Norte, Humboldt, Curry, Josephine or Coos counties for a period of one (1) year immediately prior to being nominated as a candidate for the Council.

 

Section 4.

(a).  All Rancheria members eighteen (18) years of age or older and registered to vote with the Rancheria shall be eligible to vote in all elections provided for in this Constitution.  The Council shall be the power to prescribe ordinances, governing the conduct of all elections provided for this Constitution.  All elections shall be by secret ballot.

(b).  In any event wherein a procedural problem or conflict develops between Indian custom and this Constitution, the provisions of this Constitution shall prevail.

 

Section 5.

Special elections shall be held upon call by the Council as provided in Articles VII, VII, X and XIII, and notice of them shall be given as in the case of general or regular elections.

 

ARTICLE X

REFERENDUM

 

Upon petition of at least thirty percent (30%) of the registered voters of the Rancheria, any enacted or proposed resolution or ordinances of the Council shall be submitted to popular referendum and the vote shall decide whether the ordinance or resolution shall thereafter continue in effect.

 

At least fifty-one percent (51%) of the registered voters shall vote in a referendum and two-thirds (2/3) majority shall prevail.  Prior to obtaining signatures, a copy of the proposed petition shall be filed with the elected Council Secretary.  The Council shall meet and set the time and place for the referendum in accordance with existing election procedures.  Before or during the petition process, the Council shall furnish a list of registered voters if requested to do so.

 

ARTICLE XI

MEETINGS OF THE RANCHERIA

 

The Council may, from time to time call meetings of all voters of the Rancheria for the purpose of receiving reports.  A General Membership Meeting shall be held at least once a year at the time of nominations of Councilpersons.

 

ARTICLE XII

RIGHTS OF MEMBERS

 

Subject to the limitations imposed by this Constitution, all members of the Rancheria shall enjoy equal political rights and opportunities to participate in the tribal government, its economic resources, assets and all the rights that are conferred upon a citizen, and no members shall be denied freedom of speech, religion or the right to peacefully assemble, nor shall any member be denied the right to petition the Tribal Council for redress of grievances, or otherwise be deprived of life, liberty or property without notice and an opportunity to be heard.

 

ARTICLE XIII

AMENDMENTS

 

Section 1.

(a).  In view of the changing times, it shall be the responsibility of the incumbent Council to review these Articles not less than every five (5) years beginning upon the effective date of this Constitution.  This, however, does not preclude other changes as are considered necessary at any time.

 

Section 2.  Upon petition of at least thirty percent (30%) of the registered voters of the Rancheria, the Council shall call an election to amend this Constitution.  A copy of the proposed amendment shall be posted at least thirty (30) days before the election is to be held.  The proposed amendment shall become part of this Constitution upon approval by a majority of the registered voters of the Rancheria voter voting in an election called for that purpose.

 

ARTICLE XIV

SAVINGS AND SEVERABILITY

 

In the event that any provision of this Constitution is determined to be unconstitutional, illegal or invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction the remaining provisions thereof shall remain in effect.

 

ARTICLE XV

RATIFICATION

 

Section 1.  Within thirty (30) days of submission of a draft Constitution to the Interim Council, the Interim Council shall call a meeting for the purpose of ratification of the draft Constitution by the Rancheria membership.  The Constitution shall be ratified if approved by a majority of persons eighteen (18) years of age or older who are listed on the initial base roll as defined in Article II, Section, provided that at least percent (30%) of those eligible to vote/participate in the election.

 

Section 2.  Upon approval by the membership of the Constitution, the Interim Council shall submit the Constitution to the Secretary of the Interior for approval, provided that approval by the Secretary shall note be necessary for this Constitution to be effective.

 

CERTIFICATION

 

I, the undersigned, as Chairperson of the Tribal Council of the Smith River Rancheria do hereby certify that the Tribal Council is composed of seven (7) members of which seven (7) were present constituting a quorum at a meeting duly noticed and convened on June 10, 2008 to certify the election results; and that the Smith River Rancheria held an election on the 17th day of May, 2008, and that the two Constitutional Amendments reflected in the foregoing document, 1) changing the governing body of the Smith River Rancheria from the "Rancheria Council" to the "Tribal Council" and 2) expanding ARTICLE 1 – Aboriginal Lands, Territory and Jurisdiction were adopted by a majority vote of those voting in the election.

 

Dated on this 10 day of June, 2008                                                                                                                                                            ______________/S/____________________________________________________________

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Kara Brundin Miller, Chairperson

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Smith River Rancheria Tribal Council

 

Attest:  ______/S/____________________________________________________________________

            Sharyne R. Harper

            Tribal Council Secretary