Tribal Constitution & By Laws

Approved December 7, 2002
Revised January 14, 2006


We, the descendants of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation, of Virginia, whose last known “Reservations Lands’ were located in Southampton County and within the same jurisdiction do now lodge, in order to preserve, enrich and protect our tribal culture, traditions and history, promote our general welfare and secure to ourselves and our posterity and that of our children, the power to exercise certain rights of self government consistent with Federal, State and local laws–do ordain and establish this Constitution as the governing document of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation of Virginia. The term NATION as used in this Constitution is the same as TRIBE.

Article I – Name

The name of this Nation (Tribe) shall be the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Southampton County, Virginia.

Article II – Jurisdiction

The jurisdiction of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation extends within the ethno-historical geographical contact boundaries of Southeastern Virginia, inclusive to the Virginia Counties of Southampton, Isle of Wight, Sussex, Greenville, Brunswick, Surry, and Nottoway; to include, Northampton and Gates County, North Carolina.

Article III – Citizenship

Section 1: By this Constitution, all lineal descendents of the historical Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation who can trace, “via a paper trail,” their blood line to an ethno-historic Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Descendant as listed on one or more of the following documents:

The July 18, 1808 Special Nottoway Indian Census of Southampton County, Virginia;

Nottoway Indian Surnames as listed on Land Deeds transfers / sales of Nottoway Lands within Southampton and Isle of Wight Counties from 1735 thru 1840;

Nottoway Indian Surnames listed on the February 5, 1849 Court Case as filed in Southampton County, Virginia – Nottoway Indian Tribe vs Jeremiah Cobb;

Those Nottoway Indian Surnames as listed on the 1803 and 1819 to1850 Free Negro and Mulatto Census of Saint Luke’s Parish in Southampton County Virginia; the US Census

Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribal Surname Roster, shall be entitled to membership in the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation, Southampton County, Virginia.

And any child under the age of 18 born to an enrolled member of the Tribe will be automatically recognized as a full tribal member

Section 2: Any person enrolled as a citizen of another Tribe, Band or Federal Recognized Indian Community shall not be allowed citizenship / membership in the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation.

Section 3: Loss of Membership. Membership in the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe may be lost by:

Resignation in writing to the Tribal Council;

Resignation must be in the form of a signed written letter to the Tribal Council and mailed to the tribal address

The tribal secretary/roll keeper shall acknowledge the receipt of the letter of resignation and shall forward a letter of instructions advising the return of tribal property including the member’s tribal ID card.

Following action taken by the tribal council, the member’s name shall be removed from the active roll of the tribe and the member notified of said action. Membership application, and oath of allegiance will then be placed in the tribe’s inactive roll files

Discovery of dual enrollment of the member with another Indian tribe.

Upon proof of lack of eligibility for enrollment.

Failure to perform duties of elected office.

Section 4: Reinstatement. Reinstatement of any former Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribal Member shall be initiated by written application to the tribal membership committee which shall upon proper investigation, make a recommendation to the tribal council for its consideration by proper vote, reinstatement or denial. The tribal council shall have the power to enact ordinances governing future citizenship and loss of citizenship.

Section 5: Tribal Cards. All citizens of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation shall be assigned a Roll Number, listed on the Tribal Roster and issued a pictured Tribal ID Card. Secondly, there shall be established a Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Surname Roster, kept by the Tribal Roll Keeper, to be used by the membership committee for the inclusion of any Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian “Descendant” seeking membership who presents the necessary evidence of eligibility for registration on the Tribal Rolls.

Section 6: Adoption. The tribe may adopt persons of American Indian descent and may also grant honorary membership to persons of Non- Indian descent. Approval will be by majority vote of enrolled membership present at the General Body Business Meeting. Adopted persons are granted the right to vote, but cannot serve as part of the governing body. An honorary member may not hold office, and is not assigned a Tribal Roll Number.

Section 7: Oath of Allegiance. All citizens of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation shall be bound by an oath of allegiance to the Tribe, the Constitution of the United States and to the Tribe’s Constitution and By-laws as provided in Appendix 1.

ArticleIV – Bill of Rights

Section 1: The judicial process of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation shall be open to every enrolled citizen of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation. Speedy and certain remedies shall be afforded under the terms of this Constitution for every wrong and injury to person, or reputation, wherein said remedy does not conflict with the laws of the state of Virginia and / or the United States of America. The council shall prescribe the procedures relevant thereto. The appropriate protections guaranteed by the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act and the 1968 Indian Civil Rights Act shall apply to all citizens of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation.

Section 2: All citizens of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation shall enjoy without hindrance, freedom of worship, speech, press and peaceful assembly for their common good within the limits of state and federal law.

Section 3: All citizens 18 years and over shall have the right to vote in all tribal elections either in person or by absentee ballot.

Article V – Distribution Of Powers

The powers of the governing body of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation shall be divided into three (3) separate branches of government, Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.

Section 1: Executive Branch: The Executive Power shall be vested in a Principal Chief and the Vice Chief, who shall be styled as Chief and as Vice Chief of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation. The Principal Chief and Vice Chief shall be a resident of Southampton County, Virginia, where the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation is principally housed. The Principal Chief and Vice Chief shall, follow a heredity line and shall be elected for life. The Principal Chief will serve as Chairman of the Tribal Council. The Vice Chief will serve as Chairman of the Tribal Council in the absence of the Principal Chief. 

Section 2: Legislative Branch: The Legislative Branch shall consist of one Legislative Body called the “Tribal Council” of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation. The Tribal Council, following the ethno-historical traditions of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation having eight (8) “Chief Men,” shall consist of eight (8) Council Members having been elected by the “General Body” in the “General Election” for a term of four (4) years. 

Section 2a: The governing body of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation is the Tribal Council.

Section 2b: The Tribal Council shall have the power subject to any limitations imposed by the statues of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and By-laws of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation.

Section 2c: Special meetings can be called by the Chief or the Vice Chief; or upon written request of the 51% of the tribal membership. The purpose of the meeting should be published 10 days prior to the meeting being held.

Section 2d: All meetings of the Tribal Council shall be open to Tribal members except in an event that would be more appropriately discussed in Executive session as deemed necessary by the Tribal Chief and/or Council.

Section 2e: Members of the Council and all Executive Officers shall be bound by oath as provided in Appendix 2, swearing to perform duties as specified in the Constitution and By-laws of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation, Southampton County, Virginia. 

Section 3: Judicial Branch: The Judicial Branch shall be composed of three (3) tribal members of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation, all of whom must be admitted to practice law before the highest court of the State of Virginia. Members of the Judicial Branch shall be appointed by the Principal Chief and approved by the Tribal Council for such terms as the Tribal Council may provide. The decision of the Judicial Branch shall be final as the judicial process in so far as the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Nation of Virginia is concerned.

Article VI – The Tribal Council and Officers

Section 1: The Tribal Council shall:

Have the power to approve or negotiate and approve or disapprove contracts with public or private entities.

Establish procedures for the conduct of tribal business operations including regulation of conflicts of interests and nepotism with the approval of the tribal membership

Submit a line item operating budget to the general tribal membership for approval;

Provide guidelines for the creation of organizations, including a non-profit foundation and committees as identified by the Tribal Council

Promote and protect the health, peace, morals, education and general welfare of the tribe and its members

Establish and enforce guidelines and processes governing the conduct of tribal members

The tribal council shall function according to Roberts Rules of Order, newly revised.

Article VII – The Qualifications, Powers and Duties of the Chiefs

Section 1: The Tribal Chief shall be the Chairman of the Tribal Council.

The Chief shall schedule and preside at all meetings of the Council

Prepare the meeting agenda in conjunction with the Tribal Secretary

In the absence of the Chief, the Vice Chief shall perform the duties of the Chief

In the absence of the Chief and Vice Chief the next senior member of the Council shall preside and perform the duties of the Chief.

Section 2: Qualifications to seek office as Chief

  • Must be a minimum of thirty five (35) years of age
  • Must reside within the historic boundaries of the Tribe
  • Must follow a heredity line of previous Chief
  • Must possess an in-depth command and understanding of the tribe’s ethno history past and present.

Section 3: Executive powers of the Chief, subject to the limitations of the Constitutions and By-laws:

  • Serve as the principal Executive Officer and principal spokesperson for the Tribe.
  • Carryout the policies established by the Tribal Council and general tribal membership.
  • Provide for the enforcement of all rules, regulations and ordinances enacted by the Tribal Council.
  • Attend and preside, as chairperson, over all meetings of the Tribal Council and shall vote only in the case of a tie.
  • The Chief as spokesperson cannot legally obligate the tribe either financially or through service without the consent of the Tribal Council and approval of the Tribal membership.
  • Shall represent the tribe at all functions and gatherings pertaining to the interest of the tribe.

Section 4: The tribal chief shall take an oath of office at the general tribal business meeting following the election.

Section 5: Completion of term as tribal chief. If a new tribal chief is elected, the retiring tribal chief shall retain the title of Elder Tribal Chief.

Section 6: Duties of the Vice Chief. In the absence of the Chief the Vice Chief shall assume the duties of the Chief and will work in conjunction with the Pow Wow chairman in planning the tribal gathering.

Article VIII – The Powers and Duties of the Secretary and Treasurer

Section 1: The secretary/roll keeper shall:

  • Be elected from the general tribal membership for a four year term of office.
  • Be responsible for maintaining all records of the tribe by recording the events of the tribal council and the general tribal business meetings. Minutes shall be available for review at the next scheduled business meeting.
  • Prepare the mailing and posting of all tribal notices.
  • Attend to all correspondence assigned by the chief or tribal council.
  • Maintain the membership roll of the tribe and list those members who are eligible to vote (active), inactive or deceased, assign a Tribal Roll Number to new members.
  • Keep updated records of all changes to the membership information including any information required in the constitution and by laws.

Section 2: The Treasurer shall:

  • Be elected from the general tribal membership for a four year term of office. The treasurer shall be an official bonded officer of the tribe.
  • Maintain a ledger of the financial transactions of the tribe and keep said ledger open to inspection by the tribal members and/or state or local authorities, verbally provide the status of all accounts at Tribal Council and/or tribal business meetings.
  • The treasurer shall deposit funds in a bank or financial institution within 72 hours of transactions selected by the Tribal Council and approved by the tribal membership.
  • Disburse funds in accordance with authorization required by the tribal council making sure all proper vouchers, bills and invoices are prepared. 
  • Checks are to be signed by the treasurer and by one or two other authorized tribal signatories (Secretary, Treasurer, Chief).
  • Ensure that all financial obligations are paid in a timely manner.
  • Receive and write receipts for all administrative fees/payments from tribal members and other payees.
  • Receive vouchers for reimbursement and/or payment of tribal bills.
  • Prepare and provide a written financial statement for distribution to the Council and or tribal general body meetings.
  • Prepare an annual operating budget for the tribe in conjunction with the Secretary and Chief.

Article IX – Nominations and Elections of Tribal Officers

Section 1: Nominations

  • Must be at least 25 years of age on the day of the election.
  • Must reside in a 150 mile radius of the original and present geographic area of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian tribe.
  • Must be a voting member of the tribe.
  • Must have an understanding of the tribal history.
  • Not have any felony convictions or outstanding warrants.
  • Must have attended at least 2 of the previous 4 Pow Wows and Gatherings.
  • Must have actively participated in tribal activities and have served on one or more tribal committees.
  • Must be able to communicate effectively.
  • Must have a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Section 2: Elections

  • Elections shall be held on the first annual business meeting of the calendar year.
  • An election committee shall be appointed by the chief to govern the conduct of tribal elections.
  • All elections shall be held by secret ballot.
  • Absentee Ballots must be returned and received prior to election day.
  • In all tribal Council elections, the person with the majority number of votes cast for a given position shall be seated on the Council.

Article X – Vacancies and Removal from Office

Section 1: If a vacancy occurs with less than one year remaining in the term of office, the Tribal Council shall appoint a successor, who shall serve until the next regular election is held.

Section 2: If a vacancy occurs in the membership of the Council with more than one year remaining in the term of office, the Tribal Council shall call a special election within 60 days for the purpose of filling the vacancy.

Section 3: If a vacancy occurs in the office of Secretary the vacancy may be filled by the Council from its own membership.

Section 4: If a vacancy occurs in the position of Tribal Chief, the position will automatically be filled by the Vice Chief until the next regularly scheduled tribal election and the new Chief takes the oath of office.

Section 5: Any member of the government, the Tribal Chief or any member of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian tribe, who, during the term for which they were elected or appointed, is convicted of a felony shall be subject to removal from their position by action of the Tribal Council with the approval of the general body.

Section 6: If a council member needs to be removed for cause, the Tribal Council by majority vote may recommend the removal of the Council member at the next general body or special called meeting. Tribal members may petition the Tribal Council for a recall of a member of the Council by presenting a petition signed by a least forty percent of the eligible voters accompanied by appropriate documentation of just cause for removal. Within sixty (60) days, the Tribal council shall cause to be held a special election on the question of recall. No Council member shall be recalled except by the affirmation vote of a majority of those voting in a recall election in which seventy-five (75%) percent of the persons eligible to vote in attendance at a general body Called Meeting have voted. Should the recall be approved by the voters, Article X, Sections 1 and 2 shall apply.

Section 7: Any member, officer, Tribal Council member, or Chief who violates his/her oath of office, jeopardizes the health, well being, (financial or otherwise) of any tribal member or the tribe is convicted of a felony, commits immoral acts, or commits acts of deceit or otherwise creates dissention within the tribe may be suspended, expelled, or removed by a two thirds vote of the eligible voters in attendance at a general body meeting. Any member, officer, chief or tribal council who is suspended, expelled or removed shall have the right to request a hearing with an appointed grievance committee. The tribal grievance committee upon reviewing the evidence shall either recommend to the general body that the member, officer, tribal council member, or chief be permanently removed, expelled, or reinstated.

Section 8: A Council Member may be removed from office for cause if they miss 4 consecutive Tribal Council meetings without legitimate excuse.

Article XI – Tribal Meetings

Section 1: Business Meetings

  • The general tribal membership business meeting shall be held quarterly with election of officers on the first business meeting of the calendar year.
  • The tribal council shall meet monthly. The tribal chief shall have the power to schedule these meetings and special call meetings of the Council. Tribal Council meetings are open to the general membership unless otherwise stipulated. Discussion of a contractual or confidential business matter that are of a sensitive nature may be in a closed executive session.
  • The tribal chief shall have the authority to call special meetings of the general tribal membership or tribal council. The purpose of the special meetings shall be specified when notification is made.
  • All tribal meetings will have an agenda prepared in advance.
  • Advance notice of a closed tribal council meeting shall be given by the tribal chief one week prior to the meeting being held.
  • Tribal member(s) may request, a meeting with the Tribal Council to discuss an issue of importance to the member or members. Requests must be made in writing.

Article XII – Committees

Section 1: Committee guidelines
Each standing committee will submit a copy of its guidelines to the Tribal Council.

Section 2: Finance Committee
The finance committee will perform the following functions: prepare an annual budget for tribal operations; conduct or cause to be conducted an audit of tribal financial assets by reviewing the income and disbursements of the tribal funds.

Section 3: By-Law committee
The By- Law committee will perform the following functions: When requested by the Tribal Council, read and officially interpret the Constitution and By-laws; receive any recommendations for amendments to the Constitutions and By-laws; review, structure and recommend any amendments to the Constitutions and By-laws, to the Tribal Council for approval and vote by the tribal membership

Section 4: Elections Committee

Section 5: Grievance Committee
The grievance committee shall be appointed by the general members and shall perform the following functions:

  • Conduct hearings concerning suspensions, expulsions, or removals from office of tribal members including all elected officials due to violations of this constitution and bylaws
  • Make recommendations to the tribal membership as to whether a violator should be permanently removed, expelled or reinstated.

Section 6: Research Committee

Section 7: Genealogy Committee

Section 8: Powwow Committee

Section 9: Tribal Publications Committee

Section 10: Grant Committee(s)

Article XIII – War Chief and/or Sergeant at Arms

A War Chief shall be appointed by the Tribal Chief, for a length of time agreed upon by the Tribal Council and approved by the tribal membership, to insure order at all tribal council and/or membership meetings and Pow Wow/Gatherings. The War Chief will supervise security at all tribal meetings and may solicit temporary assistance for each individual event if necessary from the tribal body.

Article XIV – Liquidation of Assets(Amended April 17,2010)

Should the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe be dissolved, any remaining capital assets shall be liquidated and dispersed equally to all active enrolled tribal members in good standing with the tribe.

Article XV – Amendments

The Constitution and Bylaws may be amended by a majority vote of the qualified voters of the tribe voting at an election called for that purpose providing that the amendment has/have been proposed and reviewed by the By-laws Committee and presented to the Tribal Council for approval.

Article XVI – Tribal Clans (Amended February 27,2010)

The Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe of Southampton County, Virginia is composed of nine traditional Iroquoian Clans, three Water, three Land and three Sky.

The NINE CLANS are as follows: Eel (Agility), Turtle (Purposefulness), Beaver (Industrious/Helpful), Bear (Brotherly Love), Deer (Endurance), Wolf (On The Trail of Harmony), Snipe (Obedience) and Hawk (Sharing with others). The tribe reserves the right to adopt a tenth clan if required. The tenth clan shall be the Wild Potato Clan. Each clan will elect a Clan Mother.

___________ January 14, 2006
Cynthia “Water Lily” Brown 
Tribal Secretary

Appendix 1 – Oath Of Tribal Allegiance

CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Southampton County, Virginia


RE-AFFIRMATION OF CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribal Citizenship
I, ____________________________________________without reservation, do affirm that I am a CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribal , Citizen and member of the General Council/Tribe located in Southampton County, Virginia, that I recognize that the Tribal Council is the legitimate governing body of the CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, and I do solemnly swear allegiance to the sovereign government of the CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, and will defend the same. Further, I accede to the jurisdiction of the CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribe as my legal power of attorney for all TRIBAL MATTERS of representation in governance and protection, whether public or private, civil or criminal. I reaffirm, my acceptance and responsibilities of being a free citizen of the CHEOROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribe and the guarantee of rights of citizenship; that I will defend these rights and citizenship status in any forum of law, public or governing council; that I will not, under my own free will or desire, be subjected to alien subjugation, domination or exploitation in any matter whatsoever in any legal forum, government program, or agency; that I freely choose the right to self determination and determine my political status, social, economic, health, education, welfare, and cultural development, as a Citizen of the Sovereign Government of the CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Southampton County, Virginia. I reaffirm, that my rights as a citizen of the CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribe cannot be reduced, infringed, revoked, or subject to foreign jurisdictional activities without my direct permission, while not under duress, and in writing; I further state that consent to accede to any jurisdiction, rule, regulation or law must be with my full knowledge and consent, and that implied consent is a direct violation of my human rights as a citizen of the CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribe; that any reduction of my rights must come through Due Process in a CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Court. I reaffirm, that the Children of the CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Southampton County, Virginia are the future: that they are CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribal Citizens by Birth; as such are protected by the General [ and ] Tribal Councils of the CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, that they are the legitimate Wards of the Tribal Council and Tribal Court at Birth with shared legal custody of the Tribal Council and the Parents; THAT ANY ACT TO FORCIBLY REMOVE A CHILD FROM A CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) INDIAN PARENT, OR THE CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) INDIAN TRIBAL JURISDICTION, IS AN ACT OF GENOCIDE, AS PROMULGATED IN U.N. RESOLUTION 260 A(III) OF 9 DEC 1948, ART. 2-4. Furthermore, I freely accede to the jurisdiction of the CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribe and accept the status of its Citizen Children as Ward of the Tribal Council and Court at Birth, and will defend such status in any legal forum, government program, or agency whatsoever. Finally, I reaffirm my Genealogy Knowledge and Belief, both verbal and documented, that I am descended (Bloodline) from the historic CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Nation of Virginia: that the CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Nation of Virginia consisted of autonomous and sovereign “Nottoway Towns” and “Villages” under the leadership of the CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian “Teerheer” (Chief) and Great Men prior to the formation of the United States of America and continued thereafter its formation, following that the descendents (remnants) of those towns took refuge in and remained in Southeastern Virginia, and some of which “Dispersed” to the “Four Directions” (other states) but continue to maintain their sovereignty while in refugee status; that the sovereignty of the CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribal Descendants has never been relinquished by a Council Vote, nor has there been a surrender or transfer of sovereignty at any time in its history; that the citizenship of the CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribe exists separate from the United States [or] any other sovereign; that there has never been a vote of the Council to approve, grant, or convey US Citizenship on behalf of the CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribe or its Citizens, that no historic CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Tribal Citizen ever requested Naturalized Status as a Citizen with the US; and TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE, THE STATUS OF THE CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) INDIAN TRIBE OF VIRGINIA, WAS NEVER RECINDED BY LAW OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA (STATE OF VIRGINIA), NOR THE UNITED STAES PRIOR TO THE 14th AMENDMENT OF THE US CONSTITUTION, OR THE AMERICAN INDIAN CITIZENSHIP ACT OF 1924. In Witness Whereof, Of My Free Will I Attend My Signature To The Above Reaffirmation Statement On This MM/DD/YY: ________ ,20_.

Applicant: _________________ ___
(Signature) (Date)
Witnessed By: _________________ ___
(Signature) (Date)

Appendix 2 – Oath Of Office

“I, (state your full name) doswear (or affirm) that I shall preserve, support and protect the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the CHEROENHAKA (Nottoway) Indian Nation and execute my duties as a member of the Tribal Executive and/or Legislative and/or Judicial Committee(s) to the best of my ability so help me Creator.”