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The Constitution of The Ho-Chunk Nation

PREAMBLE

We the People, pursuant to our inherent sovereignty, in order to form a more perfect government, secure our rights, advance the general welfare, safeguard our interests, sustain our culture, promote our traditions and perpetuate our existence, and secure the natural and self-evident right to govern ourselves, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Ho-Chunk Nation.

ARTICLE I - TERRITORY AND JURISDICTION

Section 1. Territory.

The territory of the Ho-Chunk Nation shall include all lands held by the Nation or the People, or by the United States for the benefit of the Nation or the People, and any additional lands acquired by the Nation or by the United States for the benefit of the Nation or the People, including but not limited to air, water, surface, subsurface, natural resources and any interest therein, notwithstanding the issuance of any patent or right-of-way in fee or otherwise, by the governments of the United States or the Ho-Chunk Nation, existing or in the future.

Section 2. Jurisdiction.

The jurisdiction of the Ho-Chunk Nation shall extend to all territory set forth in Section 1 of this Article and to any and all persons or activities therein, based upon the inherent sovereign authority of the Nation and the People or upon Federal law.

ARTICLE II - MEMBERSHIP

Section 1. Requirements.

The following persons shall be eligible for membership in the Ho-Chunk Nation, provided, that such persons are not enrolled members of any other Indian nation:

Section 2. Relinquishment of Membership and Re-enrollment.

Enrollment in any other Indian Nation shall constitute voluntary relinquishment of membership. Adult members may relinquish their membership or the membership of their minor children. Relinquishment of membership shall be done in writing. Any adult member who has voluntarily requested to be removed from the Membership Roll shall not be eligible for re-enrollment. Any minor whose membership has been relinquished by a parent shall be eligible for re-enrollment upon reaching the age of eighteen (18).

Section 3. Re-enrollment by General Council.

Any person of at least one-fourth (1/4) Ho-Chunk blood who has relinquished membership under Section 2 of this Article may be re-enrolled into membership by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the General Council, provided, that such individual is not an enrolled member of any other Indian Nation. Section 4. Membership Roll.

The Legislature shall maintain one official roll of all tribal members.

Section 5. Membership Code.

The Legislature shall have the power to enact laws not inconsistent with this Article to govern membership. Removal of any person who is not eligible for membership from the Membership Roll shall be done in accordance with the Membership Code, provided, that such removal is approved by at least two-thirds (2/3) vote of the General Council.

Section 6. Appeals.

Any person who has been rejected for enrollment or who has been removed from the Membership Roll shall have the right to appeal to the Judiciary for a remedy in equity consistent with this Constitution.

ARTICLE III - ORGANIZATION OF THE GOVERNMENT

Section 1. Sovereignty.

The Ho-Chunk Nation possesses inherent sovereign powers by virtue of self-government and democracy.

Section 2. Branches of Government.

The government of the Ho-Chunk Nation shall be composed of four (4) branches: General Council, Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary.

Section 3. Separation of Functions.

No branch of the government shall exercise the powers or functions delegated to another branch.

Section 4. Supremacy Clause.

This Constitution shall be the supreme law over all territory and persons within the jurisdiction of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

ARTICLE IV - GENERAL COUNCIL

Section 1. Powers of the General Council.

The People of the Ho-Chunk Nation hereby grant all inherent sovereign powers to the General Council. All eligible voters of the Ho-Chunk Nation are entitled to participate in General Council.

Section 2. Delegation of Authority.

The General Council hereby authorizes the legislative branch to make laws and appropriate funds in accordance with Article V. The General Council hereby authorizes the executive branch to enforce the laws and administer funds in accordance with Article VI. The General Council hereby authorizes the judicial branch to interpret and apply the laws and Constitution of the Nation in accordance with Article VII.

Section 3. Powers Retained by the General Council.

Section 4. Excepted Powers.

The General Council does not retain the power to review actions relating to the hiring or firing of personnel.

Section 5. Annual Meetings.

The People shall meet in General Council at least one time each year, which shall be called by the President, and at other times as provided in Section 6 of this Article. Notice shall be provided by the President for all Annual Meetings of the General Council.

Section 6. Special Meetings.

Special Meetings of the General Council shall be called by the President upon petition by twenty (20) percent of the eligible voters, or upon written request of a majority of the Legislature, or when deemed necessary by the President. Notice shall be provided by the President for all Special Meetings of the General Council.

Section 7. Procedures.

Twenty (20) percent of the eligible voters of the Nation present in General Council shall constitute a quorum. Each action of the General Council shall require the presence of a quorum. The President shall call all Annual and Special General Council Meetings, except those meetings called pursuant to Article IX, Section 2. When a quorum is attained, the General Council shall select either the President or another person to conduct the meeting. A secretary shall be appointed to record the minutes of all General Council meetings, including any votes taken. The secretary shall transmit the minutes of General Council meetings to the Legislature.

ARTICLE V - LEGISLATURE

Section 1. Composition of the Legislature.

Section 2. Powers of the Legislature.

The Legislature shall have the power:

Section 3. Codes.

The Legislature shall adopt Codes governing Membership, Open Meetings, Elections, Ethics including conflicts of interest, nepotism, and the conduct of all elected and appointed officials and employees, and other Codes as deemed necessary.

Section 4. Redistricting or Reapportionment.

The Legislature shall have the power to redistrict or reapportion including changing, establishing, or discontinuing Districts. The Legislature shall maintain an accurate census for the purposes of redistricting or reapportionment. The Legislature shall redistrict and reapportion at least once every ten (10) years beginning in 1995, in pursuit of one-person/one-vote representation. The Legislature shall exercise this power only by submitting a final proposal to the vote of the People by Special Election which shall be binding and which shall not be reversible by the General Council. Any redistricting or reapportionment shall be completed at least six (6) months prior to the next election, and notice shall be provided to the voters. [Amendment IV adopted on May 6, 2009 which became effective June 20, 2009 by operation of law. This section ws changed to require redistricting and reapportionment once every ten (10) years.]

Section 5. Compensation.

Members of the Legislature shall receive reasonable compensation. No increase or decrease in compensation for Legislators shall take effect until after the next General Election. No member of the Legislature shall receive compensation as an employee or in any other capacity within the Executive branch during their term of office.

Section 6. Terms of Office.

Members of the Legislature shall serve four (4) year terms not to exceed two (2) consecutive four (4) year terms, which shall be staggered, unless the Legislator’s first term is filling a vacancy under Article IX of Constitution, it will not count as a term for purposes of this section. Legislators shall represent their respective Districts until their successors have been sworn into office except if the Legislator has been successfully removed or recalled in accordance with this Constitution. Members of the Legislature shall be elected by a majority vote of the eligible voters from their respective Districts.

Section 7. Qualifications.

Members of the Legislature shall be at least twenty five (25) years old and eligible to vote. No person shall become a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature if otherwise employed by the Ho-Chunk Nation. No person convicted of a felony shall serve as a Legislator unless pardoned.

Section 8. Meetings.

The Legislature shall hold regular monthly meetings. The Legislature may hold special meetings as necessary. Members of the Legislature shall hold and attend regularly scheduled meetings in their respective Districts. Failure to attend such monthly or District meetings on a regular basis may constitute grounds for removal or recall. The Legislature shall not schedule a special meeting at the same time as a regularly scheduled District meeting.

Section 9. Open Meetings.

All meetings of the Legislature shall be open to all members of the Nation, except when in Executive Session.

Section 10. Executive Session.

The Legislature may, upon duly recorded vote, go into executive session. At such sessions, all persons, except members of the Legislature and its officers, shall be excluded from the meeting chamber, except any person whose presence shall be required by the Legislature.

Section 11. Quorum.

A majority of the Legislature shall constitute a quorum. A quorum shall be necessary to transact official business of the Legislature. Each session of the Legislature shall require a quorum.

Section 12. Voting.

A majority vote of the quorum shall be necessary to exercise the powers of the Legislature, except as otherwise provided by this Constitution. The votes of each member of the Legislature shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

Section 13. Budget.

The Legislature shall enact an annual budget. The budget shall include an appropriation of operating funds for each branch of the government. The Legislature shall not appropriate funds which have not been authorized by law. No item shall be included in the budget if it is not authorized by law.

ARTICLE VI - EXECUTIVE

Section 1. Composition of the Executive Branch.

Section 2. Powers of the President.

The President shall have the power:

Section 3. Qualifications.

The President shall be at least thirty-five (35) years old and eligible to vote. No person convicted of a felony shall serve as President unless pardoned.

Section 4. Compensation.

The President shall receive reasonable compensation. No increase or decrease in compensation for the office of President shall take effect until after the next General Election.

Section 5. Term of Office.

The President shall serve four (4) year terms not to exceed two (2) consecutive four (4) year terms, which shall be staggered unless the President’s first term is filling a vacancy under Article IX of Constitution, it will not count as a term for purposes of this section. The President shall serve until a successor has been sworn into office. The President shall be elected by a majority vote of the eligible voters of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

ARTICLE VII - JUDICIARY

Section 1. Composition of the Judiciary.

There shall be a Supreme Court of the Ho-Chunk Nation, a Trial Court of the Ho-Chunk Nation, such other lower courts of special jurisdiction as deemed necessary by the Legislature, and other forums of special jurisdiction for traditional dispute resolution as deemed necessary by the Legislature.

Section 2. Composition of the Supreme Court.

There shall be one Chief Justice and two Associate Justices of the Supreme Court.

Section 3. Composition of the Trial Court.

There shall be one Chief Judge of the Trial Court and other Associate Judges as deemed necessary by the Legislature.

Section 4. Powers of the Judiciary.

The judicial power of the Ho-Chunk Nation shall be vested in the Judiciary. The Judiciary shall have the power to interpret and apply the Constitution and laws of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

Section 5. Jurisdiction of the Judiciary.

Section 6. Powers of the Trial Court.

Section 7. Powers of the Supreme Court.

Section 8. Qualifications.

Section 9. Terms of Office.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall be elected to serve for six (6) years and until such time as an election is held and a successor has been sworn into office. At the first election for positions on the Supreme Court, the candidate receiving the highest number of votes for the position of Associate Justice shall serve a four year term; the candidate receiving the second highest number of votes shall serve a two year term. Thereafter, Associate Justices shall serve for four (4) year staggered terms. A Supreme Court Justice shall serve until a successor has been sworn into office.

Section 10. Election of Supreme Court Justices.

Supreme Court Justices shall be elected by a majority of the eligible voters of the Ho-Chunk Nation, in accordance with the General Election provisions in Article VIII, Section 1, unless otherwise provided.

Section 11. Election of Trial Court Judges.

The Chief Trial Judge and any Associate Judges to the Trial Court shall be elected by a majority vote of the eligible voters of the Ho-Chunk Nation in accordance with the General Election provisions in Article VIII Section 1, unless otherwise provided. All candidates shall be a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. Trial Judges shall serve staggered four (4) year terms and shall serve until a successor has been sworn into office except if the Trial Court Judge has been successfully recalled or removed. In the event a Trial Court Justice is removed, the Legislature may appoint an Interim Trial Court Judge, until a successor has been sworn into office.

Section 12. Compensation.

Supreme Court Justices and Trial Court Judges shall receive reasonable compensation. No increase or decrease in compensation for Justices or Judges shall take effect until after the next General Election or appointment to that office.

Section 13. Conflict of Interest.

Any Justice or Judge with a direct personal or financial interest in any matter before the Judiciary shall recuse; failure to recuse constitutes cause for removal in accordance with Article IX, Section 4. The Legislature shall appoint a Justice or Judge pro tempore to fill any vacancy due to recusal.

Section 14. Right to Appeal.

Any party to a civil action, or a defendant in a criminal action, who is dissatisfied with the judgment or verdict may appeal to the Supreme Court. All appeals before the Supreme Court shall be heard by the full Court.

ARTICLE VIII - ELECTIONS

Section 1. General Elections.

General Elections shall be held on the first Tuesday in June of odd numbered years. Offices of the Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary shall be filled at General Elections.

Section 2. Special Elections.

Special Elections shall be held when called for by the General Council, the Legislature, or by this Constitution or appropriate ordinances. In all Special Elections, notice shall be provided to the voters.

Section 3. Election Code.

The Legislature shall enact an Election Code governing all necessary election procedures at least one hundred and twenty (120) days before the election.

Section 4. Election Board.

The Legislature shall enact a law creating an Election Board. The Election Board shall conduct all General and Special Elections. At least sixty (60) days before the election, the Election Board may adopt rules and regulations governing elections. Election Board members shall serve for two (2) years. Election Board members may serve more than one term. The Legislature may remove Election Board members for good cause.

Section 5. Eligible Voters.

Any member of the Ho-Chunk Nation who is at least eighteen (18) years old and who meets all other requirements established by the Ho-Chunk Nation shall be eligible to vote.

Section 6. Certification of Election Results.

The Election Board shall certify election results within three (3) days after the date of the election.

Section 7. Challenges of Election Results.

Any member of the Ho-Chunk Nation may challenge the results of any election by filing suit in the Trial Court within ten (10) days after the Election Board certifies the election results. The Trial Court shall hear and decide a challenge to any election within twenty (20) days after the challenge is filed in the Trial Court.

Section 8. Oath of Office.

The Election Board shall administer the oath for the offices of President, Legislature, and Judiciary on the 4th Wednesday following the election after the Election Board certifies the Election results.

ARTICLE IX - REMOVAL, RECALL AND VACANCIES

Section 1. General Council Removal of Legislators.

The General Council may remove any member of the Legislature for malfeasance. No vote by the General Council to remove a member of the Legislature shall take place before such Legislator has been given reasonable notice of the impending action and has had a reasonable opportunity to be heard.

Section 2. General Council Removal of the President.

The General Council may remove the President for malfeasance. No vote by the General Council to remove the President shall take place before such President has been given reasonable notice of the impending action and has had a reasonable opportunity to be heard.

Section 3. Legislative Removal of Legislators.

The Legislature may remove a member of the Legislature for good cause. Any member of the Legislature subject to removal shall be informed of the charges, be given adequate notice of the impending removal action, and given an opportunity to prepare and present a defense including presenting witnesses and other evidence. An affirmative vote of three-fourths (3/4) of the entire Legislature shall be required for all Legislative removal actions under this Section. The Legislator subject to removal shall not vote.

Section 4. Legislative Removal of Judges.

The Legislature may remove a Judge for good cause. A Judge subject to removal shall be informed of the charges, be given adequate notice of the impending removal action, and given an opportunity to prepare and present a defense including presenting witnesses and other evidence. An affirmative vote of three-fourths (3/4) of the entire Legislature shall be required for all legislative removal actions under this Section.

Section 5. Recall by General Council.

The President, Legislators, and Members of the Judiciary shall be removable by recall vote at a Special Election requested by the General Council. At the request of the General Council, the Election Board shall hold a Special Election not less than thirty (30) days and not more than ninety (90) days from the date of the General Council request. If the Election Board fails to hold such Special Election within ninety (90) days, any eligible voter of the Nation may request the Trial Court to order such Special Election. In any Special Election, no more than three (3) persons shall be subject to recall vote.

Section 6. District Recall of Legislators.

A member of the Legislature shall be removable by a recall vote called by a petition of thirty (30) percent of all eligible voters of the District which elected such member of the Legislature. A petition shall be submitted to the Election Board, which shall hold a Special Election not less than thirty (30) days and not more than ninety (90) days from the date a petition is duly submitted. If the Election Board fails to hold such Special Election within ninety (90) days, any eligible voter of the Nation may request the Trial Court to order such Special Election.

Section 7. Removal for Felony Conviction while in Office.

Any person serving as President, Legislator, or a member of the Judiciary, who is convicted of a felony while in office, shall be removed from office and such office shall be deemed vacant.

Section 8. Vacancies in the Judiciary.

If a vacancy occurs in an office of the Supreme Court because of death, mental or physical incapacity, removal or recall vote, resignation, felony conviction, or any other reason, such vacancy shall be filled in the following manner:

Section 9. Vacancy of the Office of the President.

If the office of the President becomes vacant by reason of death, mental or physical incapacity, removal or recall vote, resignation, felony conviction, or for any other reason, such vacancy shall be filled in the following manner:

Section 10. Vacancies in the Legislature.

If a vacancy occurs in the Legislature because of death, mental or physical incapacity, removal or recall vote, resignation, felony conviction, or for any other reason, such vacancy shall be filled in the following manner:

Section 11. Terms for Vacancies.

Persons elected or appointed to fill a vacancy in the Judiciary, the Office of the President, or the Legislature shall serve out the term of the person whom they are replacing.

ARTICLE X - BILL OF RIGHTS

Section 1. Bill of Rights.

ARTICLE XI - STATUTES AND RESOLUTIONS

Section 1. Statutes.

All final decisions of the Legislature on matters of permanent interest shall be embodied in statutes. Such enactments shall be available for inspection by members of the Nation during normal business hours.

Section 2. Resolutions.

All final decisions on matters of temporary interest where a formal expression is needed shall be embodied in a resolution, noted in the minutes, and shall be available for inspection by members of the Nation during normal business hours.

Section 3. Form.

All statutes and resolutions shall be dated and numbered and shall include a certificate of verification.

Section 4. Review.

The Legislature shall submit statutes and resolutions to the Secretary of the Interior for approval when required by Federal law.

ARTICLE XII - SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY

Section 1. Immunity of Nation from Suit.

The Ho-Chunk Nation shall be immune from suit except to the extent that the Legislature expressly waives its sovereign immunity, and officials and employees of the Ho-Chunk Nation acting within the scope of their duties or authority shall be immune from suit. Except suits brought in Article IV Section 3(a).

Section 2. Suit Against Officials and Employees.

Officials and employees of the Ho-Chunk Nation who act beyond the scope of their duties and authority shall be subject to suit in equity only for declaratory and non-monetary injunctive relief in Tribal Court by persons subject to its jurisdiction for purposes of enforcing rights and duties established by this constitution or other applicable laws.

ARTICLE XIII - AMENDMENTS

Section 1. Requirements.

This Constitution may be amended by a majority vote of the qualified voters of the Ho-Chunk Nation voting at an election called for that purpose by the Secretary of the Interior, provided, that at least thirty (30) percent of those entitled to vote shall vote in such election; but no amendment shall become effective until approved by the Secretary of the Interior or until deemed approved by the Secretary by operation of law. If the voters adopt the amendment(s), the Secretary of the Interior shall approve such amendment(s) within forty-five (45) days after the election unless the amendment(s) are contrary to applicable law.

Section 2. Requests for a Secretarial Election.

It shall be the duty of the Secretary of the Interior to call and hold an election on any proposed amendment to this Constitution at the request of two thirds (2/3) of the entire Legislature, at the request of the General Council, or upon presentation of a petition signed by thirty (30) percent of the eligible voters of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

ARTICLE XIV - SAVINGS CLAUSE

All actions of the Nation, formerly known as the Wisconsin Winnebago Tribe, taken before the effective date of this Constitution, including elections and terms of office, shall remain in full force and effect to the extent that they are consistent with this Constitution.

ARTICLE XV - ADOPTION OF CONSTITUTION

This Constitution, when adopted by a majority vote of the registered voters voting at a Special Election authorized by the Secretary of the Interior in which at least thirty (30) percent of those registered in accordance with Secretarial regulations to vote shall vote, shall be submitted to the Secretary of the Interior for approval and, if approved by the Secretary of the Interior or by operation of law, shall be effective from the date of such approval.