In the early 1600's the basic political unit of the Cherokee was the town. A town consisted of all the people who used a single ceremonial center. Within each town, a council handled political affairs. The Cherokee tribe consisted of a number of politically independent towns held together by a common culture, language and history. No formal political mechanism existed on the tribal level.
The Cherokee national capitol was located at Echota in what is now Tennessee. It was situated on a high mound and was a huge heptagon-shaped building where all festivals were celebrated, major war parties assembled before going off to war, and from where a measure of control was dispensed to the entire nation.
The Cherokee council was comprised of a representative body of the clan system or social order. In effect, it gave everyone in the community a voice in the national government. When needed, the local council representatives served on the national council, also giving the local community a voice in the national government.
Today, the Legislative Branch consists of a 17-member Tribal Council. The Tribal Council is elected by popular vote to four year terms. There are 15-members elected to represent the districts within the Cherokee Nation jurisdictional boundaries and 2-members At-Large elected to represent those citizens who live outside the boundaries. The Tribal Council shall have the power to establish laws which it shall deem necessary and proper for the good of the Nation, and conducts other business which will further the interests of the Cherokee Nation and its citizenship. An elected Speaker presides over the Council as its president.