As an independent and sovereign nation, we follow the laws set forth in our tribal constitution, which is similar in text to the United States Constitution and the California State Constitution.
While we are a government, in many ways our organizational structure is often compared to a corporation. Members of our Business Committee (four elected members and an elected Tribal Chairman) are our government leaders, yet they serve in a similar capacity as the Board of Directors in a corporate setting. The Business Committee oversees the legal and business affairs of the tribe and makes recommendations for the overall good of the tribe. The tribal membership, like the shareholders of a corporation, vote on the recommendations made by the Business Committee.
No major decisions for the tribe are made without a tribal membership vote. At the monthly general council meetings, motions are made on the floor, seconded, and a written ballot is mailed out to tribal membership within two weeks. All voting tribal members (those enrolled members who are over the age of 21) are encouraged to cast their vote. The ballots are counted by the Ballot Committee and the general membership is notified of the outcome.
The tribal government of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians is democracy in action. The tribal members of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians conduct elections every two years to select four Business Committee members and a Tribal Chairman.