CARNEGIE — Kiowa voters are being asked to go back to the polls next month for a second secretarial election.
On Wednesday, the Bureau of Indian Affairs announced it will conduct an election for the Kiowa Tribe on April 17. Voters will be asked to consider a new tribal constitution that, if adopted, would overhaul the Kiowa Tribe’s government.
The proposed constitution would keep the Kiowa Indian Council, which consists of all Kiowa citizens aged 18 and older. It would also replace the tribe’s business committee and hearing board with three additional branches of government.
If adopted, the constitution would create six legislative districts within the boundaries of the former Kiowa-Comanche-Apache reservation and plus a seventh seat to represent tribal citizens who live outside that area. Each legislator would serve a four-year term and could be elected for up to three consecutive terms.
Those districts would also be used to select members of the Kiowa Election Commission, with each district getting a commission seat that would be subject to legislative confirmation.
The chairman and vice-chairman – positions that currently exist as part of the Kiowa Business Committee – would make up the new executive branch. Each office, open only to residents of the former Kiowa-Apache-Comanche reservation area, would carry a four-year term with no mention of term limits.
The proposed constitution would also establish the framework for a five-justice Kiowa Supreme Court and trial court.
The tribe’s current constitution provides for a hearing board with criminal matters sent to the Court of Indian Offenses at the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ agency in Anadarko, Oklahoma.
With the potential implementation of three additional branches of government, the Kiowa Indian Council would no longer have authority over the tribe’s annual budget or the sale of Kiowa land. Instead, the council would only have the power to authorize the chairman to enter into compacts and contracts or to call a special election to vote on constitutional amendments.
Wednesday’s announcement comes just six months after a full slate of officers were empanelled via a BIA-ran election.
As was the case with the Kiowas’ September secretarial election, the April 17 vote will be conducted solely by absentee ballot and all participants must mail in their votes in order to be counted. Registration forms may be picked up at the BIA’s Anadarko Agency or Southern Plains Regional Office and must be received by the secretarial election board by March 27 in order to participate.