On May 25, 1978, Governor Blanton issued a proclamation recognizing the Etowah
Cherokee Nation in Tennessee as a "nation of people". You have asked whether
the Tennessee Commission on Indian Affairs must recognize the Etowah Cherokee
as a nation of people pursuant to T.C.A. §4-34-101 et. seq. as a result of
The governor possesses only those powers granted that office by the state
constitution or by statutes. Richardson v. Young, 125. S.W. 6644, 122 Tenn.
471 (Tenn. 1910). The Legislature has enacted statutes which expressly grant
to the governor the authority to act through the issuance of a proclamation.
For instance, the governor may institute a curfew by proclamation. See T.C.A.
Insofar as the governor's constitutional powers are concerned, Article III,
Section 1 of the Tennessee Constitution vests the "Supreme Executive power" in
the governor. The Attorney General has construed that section to confer upon
the governor the implied power to administer and enforce the law. To do so
the governor may issue executive orders regarding, among other things, state
administrative policies and actions of the executive branch in performing its
duties. (See Op. Atty. Gen. 88-69). This power is restricted to orders and
directives within the executive branch.
Our research did not reveal any statutes existing in 1978 authorizing the
governor to recognize certain Native Americans as a "nation of people."
Further, our research did not reveal any cases, opinions or authority
addressing a general grant of power by the Tennessee Constitution to the
governor to issue proclamations. Absent statutory authority for the
governor's recognition of the Etowah Cherokee as a "nation of people", it
appears that they have not been recognized, as that term is used in T.C.A. 4-
34-101 et. seq., by an official or agency empowered to do so.