The Cherokee Nation is pushing for Congress to give it a delegate in the House, citing a nearly 200-year-old treaty that extended representation in exchange for the tribe’s ancestral lands.
The tribe says it was promised $5 million, new land and a delegate in Congress in the 1835 Treaty of New Echota, which was negotiated by a minority of the tribe.
“For two centuries, Congress has failed to honor that promise,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in an online video. “However, the Treaty of New Echota has no expiration date. The obligation to seat a Cherokee Nation delegate is as binding today as it was in 1835.”
The Cherokee were forced to relocate from their lands in the South to present-day Oklahoma, an arduous and deadly journey known as the Trail of Tears.
Chief Hoskin named Kimberly Teehee as the tribe’s representative in Congress in 2019. She worked on American Indian affairs in the Obama administration and as an aide to Rep. Dan Kildee, Michigan Democrat.
If seated, Ms. Teehee would be a non-voting delegate who can introduce legislation and vote in committee but not on the House floor.
American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia have this type of arrangement with delegates, who serve two-year terms.
Puerto Rico has a resident commissioner who is elected every four years.