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Feb 27, 2013 11:56 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Tribe Votes For New Constitution, New Leadership Arrangement

Feb 27, 2013 12:05 PM

Members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation voted on Tuesday night to ratify a tribal constitution that would bring an end 
to the centuries of leadership 
by a three-member board of Tribal Trustees in favor of 
a seven-member Trustee Council.

The motion to adopt the constitution passed, 112-59, amid moderate turnout for the polling, which was announced less than a week before the vote 
was held.

The new constitution lays out a blueprint for a broader hierarchy of government administration on the reservation.

Gone will be the three-member Tribal Trustees, replaced by the Trustee Council. The Tribal Council, a 13 member, elected advisory panel to the Trustees, will be dissolved.

The constitution lays out a format for calling tribal referendums, recalling officials and the introduction of legislation or law changes by the general populace of the reservation.

“Yes, this will be a major change in our history but one indicative of the growth in responsibility and the amount of service that must be provided for the people,” reads a letter sent to tribe members before Tuesday’s vote, along with a copy of the new constitution.

According to the letter, the constitution was cobbled together from numerous drafts and collections of comments and suggestions from tribe members and leaders over more than three decades.

The constitution also allows for the creation of a tribal judiciary and bylaws for the reservation.

It also details protocol for the removal of an elected official from his or her post—requiring a 30-percent vote of all eligible tribe members—an issue that has been at the fore of the deep conflicts that have embroiled the tribe since two of the three Trustees were ostensibly removed from office by a much-disputed vote.

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