by Darren Bonaparte

with contributions by Russ Jock


Submitted to the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council
August 26, 2007

Photograph by Francis San Jule. 
Peter Loran, John Back, Louis Lazore, Noah Lafrance, Mose White, Alex White
The Degree Team of Independent Order of Forresters
Courtesy of the Akwesasne Library and Cultural Center

Table of Contents


I. The Three Chief System

Governance at the time of European Contact

Leadership at the “Mission Villages” in the 17th Century

The French and Indian War

 Colonel Louis Cook

The Seven Nations of Canada Treaty of 1796

The Council of Life Chiefs

Further Land Transactions and the Appointment of Trustees

Evolution of Tribal Governance in the 19th Century

Article 8 of New York State's “Indian Law”

The Rise of the Longhouse

The Phinney Report of 1942

The 1948 Referendum and Election Protest

Termination by Emancipation

The 1950’s

The 1960’s

The 1970’s

The 1980’s

II. The Tribal Constitution

The Founding Fathers of the Tribal Constitution

The Attempted Repeal of Article 8

Drafting the Document

The Tribal Constitution Unveiled

A Referendum is Called

The Referendum Results

The 51% Debate Continues

The New Government Takes Power

A Tribal Court Judge is Appointed

1996: New Election, New Referendum

The “Clean Slate” Election and Aftermath

A Referendum Challenges the Authority of the Tribal Court

Dueling Governments

Making a Federal Case of It

The “Kotelly Decision”

Return of the Three Chiefs

BIA Recognition of the Three Chief System

“Significant Further Proceedings”

A Controversy Revived



The Constitution of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe


P. J. Herne, Former Tribal Court Employee

Carrie Garrow, Former Tribal Court Judge

Alma Ransom, Former Constitution Committee Member and Tribal Chief

Carol Herne, Former Tribal Clerk

Randy Hart, Governance Committee Member

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