Analysis: After 187 years, the Cherokee Nation wants its seat in Congress https://t.co/I5RsAiXUYM
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) October 7, 2022
Since it’s Indigenous Peoples Day, here’s a story from the Washington Post — “After 187 years, the Cherokee Nation wants its seat in Congress”:
… “It’s a very personal story when you consider that my family were forcibly removed,” Teehee, a former Obama administration adviser on tribal issues, said during a recent interview outside a coffee shop three blocks from the Capitol.
She would not be a fully vested member of the House of Representatives, but a nonvoting delegate similar to what other U.S. territories and the District of Columbia receive. If approved by the House, the delegate could sit on legislative committees, request meetings with Cabinet officials, push policy positions and even collect narrowly crafted funding projects called earmarks.
The 1835 treaty included unequivocal language that a delegate “shall” be included in the House for the Cherokee, a provision that was essentially forgotten as they and other tribes tried to survive and rebuild after forced removal.
In recent years, the Cherokee have decided to collect what was promised to them. And all it would take is a resolution passed by the House. The Senate approved the treaty ― by the narrowest of margins, just a single vote — and President Andrew Jackson signed it into law in early 1836.
No matter how long ago that was, many in Indian Country and their supporters in Congress believe a treaty is a binding document that must be respected.
“A very basic proposition,” said Chuck Hoskin Jr., elected as the Cherokee’s principal chief in 2019. “Should the United States keep its word?”
Hoskin prioritized getting the delegate seated soon after his 2019 election as chief, choosing Teehee because of her two decades of work in Congress and the executive branch. The delegate is then ratified by the tribal legislature.
While other tribes have somewhat similar language in their treaties, Cherokee leaders believe theirs is the most ironclad, and Teehee wants to be a voice for the millions of Natives scattered across all 50 states…
This comes as tribes have unprecedented representation in Washington’s power circuit. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland made history as the first Native American Cabinet secretary, and there are six members of tribal nations in the House, including three Republicans.
The House Rules Committee, under the leadership of Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a member of the Chickasaw Nation, plans to hold a hearing on the Cherokee delegate debate during the lame duck session after November’s election.
With the House majority potentially set to flip, which could require a new round of lobbying to new House leaders, the Cherokee tribe wants a vote before the end of this year…
There are complications, of course. And yet — there’s power in having a seat at the table.