Meridian Star

January 28, 2013

Choctaws consider amendments

By Terri Ferguson Smith / tsmith@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians may make some constitutional changes next month when an election is held for three amendments.

    Chief Phyliss J. Anderson notified tribal members in October that the Choctaw Tribal Council had passed three resolutions requesting the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a Secretarial Election regarding three separate issues.

    The election is set for Feb. 19. The deadline for voter registration is Tuesday.

    Anderson summarized the amendments.

    The first would change the way criminal cases are handled.

    The existing Tribal Constitution allows someone to be placed in jail for up to six months and  fined up to $500.

    The proposed change would amend and update the constitution to allow a law trained and licensed judge to impose increased fines and lengthier sentences in accordance with the Indian Civil Rights Act.

    The second amendment would change the way recall elections are handled. Currently the Tribal Constitution requires a minimum of 75 percent of eligible voters to participate in a successful recall election of a Choctaw Tribal Council representative or the Tribal Chief.

    The proposed change would amend and update the constitution to lower the percentage of eligible voters to 60 percent required for a successful recall election.

    On the third amendment, the current Tribal Constitution requires a person seeking the Office of Tribal Council Representative or Tribal Chief to be an enrolled member of the Tribe, claim residency in the community which he/ she intends to represent and be at least 21 old to seek the position of Tribal Council Representative and be at least 30 years of age to seek the position of Tribal Chief.

    This proposed change would amend and update the constitution to require a person seeking the Office of Tribal Council Representative or Tribal Chief to have no past felony conviction, require a high school diploma or GED, reside in the community he/she seeks to represent at least six months prior to the election, and secure a minimum number of signature endorsements from registered voters.

    For more information, visit www.choctaw.org and click the Secretarial Election Info button on the bottom right of the screen.