Cherokee Nation waits to see if Congress will make good on a 200-year-old promise

By | November 30, 2022

Congress is considering whether to seat a delegate from the Cherokee Nation for the first time — a proposal nearly 200 years in the making.

The non-voting delegate would be Kimberly Teehee, a former Obama administration adviser on Native American issues, who was appointed to the position in 2019. Non-voting members of Congress have no say on the final passage of bills, but they can speak on the House floor and introduce legislation.

In 1835, the Cherokee Nation signed the Treaty of New Echota and ceded all ancestral land east of the Mississippi River in exchange for $5 million dollars — and a delegate seat in Congress.

Thousands of Cherokee died along The Trail of Tears, as they were forcibly relocated to present-day Oklahoma. But no delegate from the Cherokee Nation was ever seated in the halls of the Capitol.

Earlier this month, Congress held a historic first hearing to consider seating a delegate. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. spoke to POLITICO ahead of the historic hearing on Nov. 16 about America’s broken promise and the chance to make it right.