Recognition and Early Constitutions, 1867-1897

Rollins v. Cherokees (1882)
The Cherokees hired Wallace Rollins to regain their land held in Thomas’s name, but William Johnson held a lien on the land. The result was that the Cherokees could have their lands for $30,000. Later Rollins handed the Cherokees a bill for $42,000. When the federal government only allowed $5,200, Rollins sued the Eastern Band in a state court which ruled the state lacked jurisdiction. Rollins appealed to the North Carolina Supreme Court which upheld the state court’s ruling, stating that the Cherokees are a tribe just like any other tribe and are under the jurisdiction of the United States and thus immune to suits in state courts.
-North Carolina Reports Vol. 87: Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Supreme Court of North Carolina During the October Term, 1882, (Bynum Printing Company: Raleigh, NC, 1956), 187-201.

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians v. United States and Cherokee Nation (Cherokee Trust Funds Case) (1885)
The Eastern Band claimed they were entitled to a share of the land sales by the Cherokee Nation in the west. The Supreme Court said they were not since the Eastern Cherokees, in refusing to move, had separated from the Cherokee Nation and had no claim. In an obiter dictum (non-binding point) the Court also stated that the Eastern Band had never been recognized as a tribe; that their constitution and tribal government were only social and business arrangements among themselves and that the Cherokees were citizens of North Carolina and subject to its laws. This obiter dictum directly contradicts the Rollins case (1882).
-Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of the United States, October Terms 1884, 1885, In 114, 115, 116, 117 U.S. Lawyers Edition Complete with Head Lines, Head Notes, Statements of Cases, Points and Authorities, Counsel, Footnotes, and Parallel References, Ed. Stephen K. Williams L.L.D., (Lawyers Co-Operative Publishing Company: Rochester, NY, 1886), 880-887.

Lloyd Welch Constitution
This is the first real constitution of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. It follows in many respects the 1827 constitution (modeled after the American Constitution) in that it excludes women from voting and holding office. Unlike the earlier constitution, this one divides the power into two departments, the executive and legislative.
- Cherokee Progress and Challenge, (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians: Cherokee, NC, 1972).

Corporate Charter
In 1889, to help define their status and defend their property, the Eastern Cherokees incorporated. As a corporate body the Eastern Band could sue or be sued in property matters. A later amendment established a political and economic structure by which the Cherokees could function with or without federal assistance.
- Cherokee Progress and Challenge, (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians: Cherokee, NC, 1972).

 

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