Constitution of the Atakapa

Constitution of the Atakapa-Isak Nation of S.E. Texas

And S.W. Louisiana

Revised 2012


We the people of the Ishak-Atakapa Nation, in order to preserve and enrich our tribal culture, achieve and maintain a desirable measure of prosperity, insure tranquility and to secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessing of freedom, acknowledging, with humanity and gratitude, the goodness of the Most High Ruler of the Universe in permitting us so to do, and imploring his aid and guidance in its accomplishment—do ordain and establish this Constitution for the government of the Ishak-Atakapa Nation.  The term “Nation” as used in this Constitution is the same as “Tribe”.

Mission Statement

We the People of the Sunrise and Sunset walk this earth with the sun on our shoulders.  We are a proud people of the “Most High”.  Our mission is to let our light shine, and if we should fail at that mission we shall have to put down the sun and the world shall be in darkness.

Article I- Membership

Section I.  The membership of the Ishak-Atakapa Nation will consist of

(a)    All Ishak-Atakapa Indians

(b)   All persons of Ishak-Atakapa descent not belonging to any other recognized or non-recognized tribe, or seeking to belong to any other tribe recognized or non-recognized.

(1). Who are lineal descendents of such persons provided such descendents posses and provide lineage; that may include but is not limited to family trees, birth certificates, ancestor documentation, church records, or any other historical documentation of note. Such decedents can apply for membership and shall furnish birth certificates or other sufficient evidence to prove their ancestry.

(c)    Any children born to any enrolled member of the tribe shall be entitled to membership upon examination and approval by council of such claim.

Section II. Clans or Bands

(a)    The Ishak-Atakapa Indians will be comprised of six recognized bands or clans.

(1).  The Eastern Bands will be identified as “The People of the Sunrise”, and the Western Bands will be identified as “The People of The Sunset”, following our customs recorded before time could be recorded.

(2).  The Bands shall be recognized as such; the Opelousas Band, inhabits the prairies surrounding present day St. Landry Parish and is known as the “Heron Band”.  The Opelousas Band Painted their lower legs and feet black during mourning ceremonies, mimicking the long black legs of the Heron.

(3). The Eagle represents the Calcasieu Band; these members inhabit the areas between the Calcasieu and Sabine Lakes in the South Western Louisiana.  This Clan was named for the eagle which could be seen flying over the lakes.

(4). The Snake represents the Teche Band, who inhabits the prairies and coastal marshes surrounding St. Martinville in South Central Louisiana.  They are named for the snake that symbolizes the winding and twisting course of Bayou Teche.

(5). The Alligator represents the Alligator Band on the Vermilion River in the South Central Louisiana.  The Alligator was very important to this band; its oil was used for cooking and to treat minor arthritis and eczema symptoms, its scales were used as arrow heads, and its meat was used for food.

(6).   The Panther represents those Atakapa who inhabited South East Texas in the areas around the Sabine River.

(7). The Red Bird represents the Band of the Western-Most lands in Louisiana.  This Band inhabits the prairies and coastal areas of South Western Louisiana, near what is now Lake Charles.

Section III.  Bill of Rights for Citizenship

(a).  The Ishak-Atakapa Nation recognizes the term Atakapa to be a Choctaw name for the Tribe but we refer to ourselves by our ancestral name Ishak, which means “the People”.  The Atakapa-Ishak and or Ishak-Atakapa identifiers will be recognized to refer to one and the same Nation.

b). All citizens of the Ishak-Atakapa Nation must be lineal decedents.  The Nation recognizes the basic rights retained and guaranteed under the United States as well as State governments.  These rights are retained by all distinct people and clans affiliated with this Tribe, provided that it does not diminish the boundaries or jurisdiction of the Ishak-Atakapa or conflict with Tribal law. Any tribal member, who uses the website, any social media, or any other means of communication for slander and character assassination to demean the tribe or any of its governing body especially the Principle Chief, shall be subject for immediate termination of enrollment from the Tribe.

(c). Members can enroll in one Tribe only.

(1).  All enrolled members must provide a written letter stating they are not enrolled in any other recognized or non-recognized tribes or seeking enrolment into any other recognized or non-recognized tribes.  Letters must be provided for minor children by legal guardian.

(2). If a member wishes to de-enroll he or she must submit a written letter to that effect.

(3). Any enrolled member found not to meet the lineage qualification of membership upon recognition will be subject to de-enrolment.

(d).  All tribal members have the right to travel the people’s ancestral lands,  work and earn wages, be welcomed by band members, and be afforded the right to sit in and participate in all band and council meetings.  They will retain the right to voice their opinion on all maters brought before them but can not vote.  They also have the right to participate in all tribal gatherings and ceremonies.

(e).     All citizens are entitled to a burial ceremony depending on the wishes of family and availability of members conducting the ceremony. All attempts shall be made in honor of the bereaved family.

(f). The Judicial process of this Nation shall be open to every member of the Nation.  Speedy and certain remedy shall be afforded under the terms of this Constitution for every wrong and injury to person, property, or reputation wherein said remedy does not conflict with the laws of the United States.  The Council shall prescribe the procedures thereto.  The appropriate protections guaranteed by the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 shall apply to all members of Ishak-Atakapa nation.  All decisions generating a grievance shall be placed in writing addressed to the Medicine Man for presentation to the  tribal council and a final decision will made by majority vote of the governing body subject to the approval of the Principle Chief.

(g). All citizens of the Nation shall belong to a recognized Band, by either living in the recognized band area or having been born in that area while currently having a residence outside the boundaries of any recognized band.

(1).   Bands must be recognized by the Nation’s council.

(2).   Band bylaws must be approved by the Nation’s council and should be patterned and structured like the Nation’s constitution.

(3). Amendments to any bylaws are changes acquired by majority vote and or approval of Principle Chief shall take effect the following year and can never become retroactive.

(4). Bands that are recognized shall be given a charter or some dispensation empowering it to work along with the approval of its bylaws.  All of which shall be signed and sealed by the hand of the Principle Chief.

Article II Governing Body

Section I. Executive.

(a). The Governing body of the Atakapa Ishak Tribe is headed by the following:

(b). Principle Chief for the entire Atakapa Ishak tribe

(1). His or her title shall be “The Crying Eagle”

(c). The Deputy Chief

(1). His or her title shall be “Keeper of the Flame”

(d). The Shaman

(1). His or her title shall be “The Medicine Man”

(e). Council members

(f). Secretary and or Scribe whom shall be appointed.

(g). Treasurer whom shall be appointed.

Section II.  Council

(a). The council shall consist of members who are citizens by blood of the Atakapa Ishak Tribe or any other Native Americans enrolled in this tribe.  Elections can be held by the department of Interior, or when the tribe reaches a substantial or recognized status.

(b). The tribal council shall establish one representative of each clan which shall be within the boundaries of the Atakapa Ishak Tribe.  Council members shall be appointed reasonably equal by the citizens of the council after a majority vote has been reached.  The council members representing clans within the boundaries must be domiciled within the ancestral lands encompassing their band when ever possible, if not a member can be born in a respected land of a clan, or the Principle Chief can appoint a qualified citizen for that deficient band.

Section III.  Duties of the Governing Body

(a). Principle Chief

(1). The Principle Chief shall cause laws of the nation to be faithfully executed, and shall conduct in person and in such manner as shall be prescribed by law, all communications and business of the Tribe.

(2). The Principle Chief shall supervise and manage tribal economic affairs and enterprises.

(3). The Principle Chief shall pass and enforce ordinances known as edicts and regulations, providing for the management of tribal assets, including the making and revoking of assignments.

(4).  Nothing in this constitution shall be construed as preventing the Principle Chief from employing such administrative assistants as deemed proper however; preference should be given to qualified citizens.  Such employment shall be specific and the member employed shall posses a written appointment signed and sealed by the hand of the Principle Chief.

(5). Appointed positions, boards, or committees will be terminated, when the job is completed or position is no longer needed.

(b). Deputy Chief

(1). By virtue of the office, shall aid and advise the Principle Chief in the administration of the Government of the tribe.

(2). Attend meetings as directed. If a meeting is called by the Principle Chief and the Chief is not present, he or she will direct the Deputy Chief to conduct the meeting accordingly to instructions.  The Principle Chief makes all finial decisions after carefully weighing the opinions of the members of the governing body on all tribal affairs.

(c). The Shaman

(1). Advise and assist the Principle Chief and Deputy Chief in all business and activities.

(2). Research and disseminate all cultural and historical information.  Be responsible for the guidance of the Nation’s spiritual tone as well as conducting ceremonies.

(3). Handle all duties related to public relations representing the tribe along with the Principle Chief.

(4). Appoint qualified members to assist in ceremonies and public events.

(5).  By virtue of the office, shall aid and advise the Principle Chief and Deputy Chief in the administration of the Government of the Tribe and assume all duties of the Principle Chief and or Deputy Chief as directed in their absence.

(d). Secretary

(1). The Secretary shall perform all duties connected with his or her office as prescribed by law and custom.  He shall, at the first communication in the months of July and December of each year, submit a complete report of all transactions of his office.

(2). The Scribe shall give in detail the events of each meeting including the collections of each meeting.

(3). The scribes books and papers shall always be open to the inspection of proper Officers, and the information of the Tribe.

(4). The Secretary shall give bond in an amount specified by his Tribe.

(e). Treasurer

(1).   The treasure shall keep a correct account of all monies and assets received for account of the Tribe and pay the same out only upon warrant or bond signed by the Principle Chief and Secretary, except as hereinafter provided for some relief.

(2).  Shall at the first stated meeting in the months of July and December of each year, submit a complete report of all transactions of his office, giving in detail, monies received and disbursed, accompanied by the warrants and vouchers therefore.

(3).  The duty of this office shall be the deposit for safekeeping all stocks, bonds or securities, monies, or any other property, thus deposited in the proper accounts or deposit boxes, shall not be withdrawn except by the treasure and Principle Chief.

(4).  It shall be the duty of this office to deposit in a bank selected by the three Principle Officers  all monies received from the hands of the secretary in a timely manner.

(5). Said deposits shall be made in the name of the Tribe and no monies shall be withdrawn their form except upon check signed by the Treasure and or signed or cosigned by the Principle Chief.

(f). Appointed Officers

(1). The duties of the appointed officers shall be such as prescribed by Tribal custom and usage of the law.

(2). All Past Chief‘s shall retain the title Chief Emeritus

(a) Reserves the right to advise the Council and its three principle officers voice his or her opinions but may not vote unless he is a council member or one of the three Principle officers.

(g). Council Members.

(1). The council shall consist of members who are citizens by blood of the Atakapa Ishak Tribe or Native American decent not enrolled in any other recognized or non recognized tribes.  Elections are to be held as directed by the department of Interior, or when the tribe reaches a substantial or recognized status.

(2). The Council shall establish one representative of each clan which shall be within the boundaries of the Atakapa Ishak tribe and shall be appointed reasonably equal by the citizens of the council after a majority vote has been reached and or approved by Principle Chief.

(3).  The council members representing clans within the boundaries must be domiciled within their ancestral lands encompassing their clan when ever possible, when not possible the council member can be a citizen born in Nation boundaries, or the Principle Chief may appoint a qualified citizen upon council members presentation of such a citizen.

(4). The burden of proof rests upon the applicant to establish his/her eligibility for enrollment and participation in tribal affairs.

(5). Every enactment shall have been approved by a majority of the members in attendance and the council shall, before it becomes effective be presented to the Principle Chief, who may approve the enactment by signing and sealing it, if not, the Principle Chief shall return it with objections to the council, which shall enter the objections in the record and proceed to reconsider it.  If after reconsideration, two-thirds of the entire council shall agree to pass the enactment, it shall become effective and operational not withstanding the objections of the veto of the Principle Chief.  The veto shall be employed only after careful consideration has been given and all other options have failed.  The Principle Chief shall provide written explanation of veto.

SectionVI.  Vacancies and Periods of Dormant Activity

(a).  If a vacancy occurs in the membership of the tribal council that body shall by majority vote fill such vacancy by appointing a tribal member qualified for the position approved by the Principle Chief.

(b). The Principle Chief names his own Successor

(c). The Principle Chief reserves the right to appoint council members, and officers or amend and or ratify the constitution and bylaws when and if the activities of the tribe has been is a dormant sate of affairs in an attempt to rejuvenate and progress the Nation.

Article III.  Meetings

Section I.  General Tribal Meetings Know as Lodges.

(a). A regular general tribal meeting or lodge shall be held each year.  Special lodge meetings may be called at the discretion of Principle Chief for the tribal council.

(b).  The Principle Chief shall seat in the East , the Deputy Chief shall seat in the west, and the Medicine Man shall seat in the south, while the council members shall sit around in such a manner that form a circle with the three Principle Officers. All Chief Emeritus are invited to a seat in the East.

(c). The Principle Chief shall preside over the lodge in due ceremonial form.

(d). The meetings shall be widely noticed ten days in advance, the purpose of the meeting shall be included when possible in the notice.

Section II. Quorum

(a). A majority of full members of the tribal council, i.e., three of the members, shall constitute a quorum for transaction of any tribal business.

Section III. Conduct Of Meetings

(a). The tribal meetings shall be conducted using,” Robert’s Rule of Order”, as a guide.

Article VI.  Tribal Organization

Section I.  This Nation is organized as

(a). As this is an association organized and operated exclusively for charitable and educational purpose within the meaning of section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

(b). No part of the earnings of the organization shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to its members, trustees, officers, or other private persons, except that the organization shall be and authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes set forth in the purpose clause hereof.

(c). All assists obtained under their name of the tribe, and or nation must be remanded to the nation.

(d).  No substantial part of the activities of the organization shall be the carrying on of propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, and the organization shall not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office or tribal office.  Not withstanding any other provision of this document, the organization shall not carry on other activities not permitted to be carried on (a) by organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Code or (b) by an organization, contributions to which are deductible under section 170 (c) (2) of the Internal Revenue Code.

(e). Upon the dissolution of the organization, assets shall be distributed for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, the organization which have received exempt status under section 501 (c) (3), or shall be distributed to the federal government, or to a state or local government, for a public purpose.

(f).  The Principle Chief may cause to be formed and operated trusts, the beneficiary of which shall be the Atakapa Ishak Tribe of S.E. Texas and S.W. Louisiana and these trusts shall be granted such powers as provided by law for public trusts.  Authorization for these trusts, however, must be approved by a majority vote of the Council.  The Principle Chief shall have the right to veto use of tribal funds and other assets that the council determines to spend if the principle Chief does not feel that these decisions are in the best interest of the tribe.

(g). The principal Chief shall supervise and manage tribal economic affairs and enterprises in accordance with this constitution within the meaning of section 501 (c) (3).

(h). In an effort to maintain the established political authority as well as social identification all efforts shall be made to pay honor to our history, cultural identifies, and practices.  We will continue to educate ourselves as well as the general public in the ways of our customs and ancestors; by engaging in many efforts such as but not limited to the uses of ceremonial titles linking us to our past greatness leading us down a path of future evolution.  No titles will be used to promote any individuals using them, but will be used as a tool of tribal and cultural education and dissemination. We must link ourselves to the past to promote a fruitful future of political and social-cultural recognition within our communities and country. We must recapture the sprit of our true identities; we must first show the establishment of our self awareness as it relates to our true lineage before we can expect any other entities to recognize us for our Native American roots.

Article V. Oath

Section I.  All officers elected or appointed shall, before entering upon the duties of their respective offices, take and subscribe to the following oath or affirmation:

“I do solemnly swear, or affirm that I will faithfully execute the duties of ____________ of the Atakapa Ishak Tribe, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Atakapa Ishak, and the United States Of America.  I swear or affirm further, that I will do everything in my power to promote the culture, heritage and traditions of the Atakapa Ishak Tribe”.

Section II.  The foregoing oath shall be administered by any person authorized by the Principle Chief as is the charge and care of all ceremonial work encompassed in the duties to the tribe.

Article VI. Clans or Bands

Section I.  Nothing in this constitution shall be constructed to prohibit the right of any Atakapa Ishak citizen belonging to a recognized clan or organization in the Atakapa Ishak Tribe.

 The Following bylaws found therein this constitution are applicable to this organizations policies and governing procedures.

Approved by Principle Chief