The Cherokee Nation is the sovereign government of the Cherokee people. It operates under a ratified Constitution with a tripartite government with executive, legislative and judicial branches. Services are administered under the Executive Branch through the Principal Chief and Deputy Principal Chief and their cabinet members. Laws are enacted by and financial oversight managed by a 17-member legislative body, the Tribal Council. Cherokee Nation Tribal Courts are open to every person or entity within the 14-county jurisdiction of the Cherokee Nation in northeastern Oklahoma unless specifically limited by statute. Cherokee Nation’s District Court handles civil, criminal and juvenile matters, while the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court hears cases of appeals and other matters, as may be conferred by statute.

The positions of Principal Chief, Deputy Principal Chief, and Tribal Council representative are popularly elected by the citizens of the Cherokee Nation and serve four-year terms. Supreme Court justices and District Court judges are nominated by the Principal Chief and confirmed by the Tribal Council.

With more than 460,000 citizens, the Cherokee Nation has the ability to become a powerful voice in political life, but it can’t happen without a registered and mobilized voting populace. Cherokee Vote began in 2013 to encourage citizen participation in tribal, city, county and federal elections. Similar to the nationwide Native Vote campaign, Cherokee Vote goes to local communities to help Cherokee Nation citizens with voter registration. Until the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, Native people were not counted as U.S. citizens. Now is the time for Cherokees to help steer policies affecting future generations.