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“This Series of Strong Laws”: Choctaw Governance and the Rise of Indigenous Constitutionalism, 1826-1830
For two centuries, Native nations in the United States have written constitutions to govern their affairs and affirm their status as sovereigns. Exploring the origins of this tradition of Indigenous constitutionalism in the era of Indian Removal, this paper focuses on the first written tribal constitution, the Choctaw Constitution of 1826. It explores how the Choctaw Nation appropriated and subverted Euro-American concepts of constitutionalism and written law to construct a hybrid legal regime that transformed the Nation from a web of cultural and kinship connections to a coherent national polity and tribal state apparatus.