Cherokee Nation Prepares Vote On Its First Congressional Delegate

August 29, 2019by Eleanor Van Buren
U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — The Council of the Cherokee Nation is expected to endorse its first ever delegate to Congress when the tribal nation’s governing body meets Thursday.

The tribe’s newly elected principal chief, Chuck Hoskin Jr., has named Kim Teehee as the potential delegate, a position the tribe says will honor U.S. treaty obligations that precede Oklahoma statehood in 1907 — when Cherokees became state citizens.

“We know this is just the beginning and there is much work ahead, but we … ask our leaders in Washington to work with us through this process and on legislation that provides the Cherokee Nation with the delegate to which we are lawfully entitled,” Hoskin said, citing provisions in the tribe’s nearly 200-year-old treaties with the federal government.

Teehee is the vice president of government relations for the Cherokee Nation. She served as a senior adviser on Native American issues for former Democratic Rep. Dale Kildee of Michigan for over a decade before advising President Barack Obama during his administration in a similar role.

She cites a strong relationship between the Cherokee Nation and the Oklahoma congressional delegation as they work toward congressional authorization for a new U.S. territory seat.

Specifically, she said she is working with Oklahoma Republican Markwayne Mullin, a Cherokee citizen who represents the tribe in his district, and Republican Tom Cole, a Chickasaw Nation citizen who serves as co-chairman of the Congressional Native American Caucus for the 116th Congress, on the process of authorizing a new seat in the state’s delegation.

“We have great relationships with people who have historically been allies to Indian Country, and I would be honored to sit at the table with them,” Teehee told CQ Roll Call.

If Teehee is eventually seated, she would join Reps. Sharice Davids, D-Kan., and Deb Haaland, D-N.M., as women enrolled in federally recognized tribes to serve in Congress.

The Cherokee Nation’s right to appoint a delegate is referenced in the 1835 Treaty of New Echota, which gave the Cherokees $5 million and land in present-day Oklahoma in exchange for 7 million acres of ancestral land in North Carolina. Many in the tribe perished during the 1,200 trek to Oklahoma, which lasted six months and is known as the “Trail of Tears.”

“Knowing that we have a treaty right here, we will work collaboratively on what provisions would look like to authorize a seat in the House of Representatives,” said Teehee. “And I wouldn’t rule out if there’s a possibility to do this administratively … given that our treaty of 1835 and 1866 were ratified by the Senate.”

“While I have not reviewed the 1835 treaty language myself, I have great respect for the Cherokee Nation and take any case they make seriously,” Cole said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “At this point, there are a lot of unknowns. But I look forward to engaging with them and learning more about this issue in the weeks and months ahead.”

Following the conclusion of the U.S. Civil War, the 1866 treaty reaffirmed the provisions contained in previous U.S.-Cherokee Nation treaties — in particular, the 1835 treaty that states that Cherokee Nation shall be entitled to a delegate.

In 1999, Cherokee Nation voted to uphold the provisions within the U.S.-Cherokee Nation treaties at the tribe’s constitutional convention, where Hoskin was one of the convention’s members.

“Those old provisions still live, much like the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights lives on,” Teehee said. “It makes sense that today, Chief Hoskin would nominate a delegate to the House of Representatives in fulfillment of our portion of that agreement and the treaty.”

Northern Mariana Islands was the most recent U.S. territory to add a delegate to Congress — Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan joined the House in the 111th Congress.

It is not yet clear what legislation allowing the delegate to be seated would look like or what the role of the delegate would be.

In the 116th Congress, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia are each represented in Congress by a delegate, while Puerto Rico is represented by a resident commissioner. The delegates enjoy many, but not all, of the powers and privileges of House members from the states. The delegates cannot vote on the House floor, but they can introduce legislation, vote in committees and engage in debate.


©2019 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Visit CQ Roll Call at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Political News

An Estimated 13.8 Million People Tuned In to Televised Coverage of Day One of Impeachment Inquiry Media
An Estimated 13.8 Million People Tuned In to Televised Coverage of Day One of Impeachment Inquiry
November 15, 2019
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - An estimated 13.8 million people tuned in to watch diplomats Bill Taylor and George Kent testify at the first public hearing of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, according to Nielsen. Millions more streamed the day-long event on their mobile and other... Read More

Senators Express Frustration with FDA for Slow Response to Vaping Hazards U.S. Senate
Senators Express Frustration with FDA for Slow Response to Vaping Hazards
November 15, 2019
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- A Food and Drug Administration official told a U.S. Senate committee this week that new regulations to control vaping are likely coming soon, but couldn’t say when. His testimony drew rebukes and words of frustration from members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and... Read More

Ken Cuccinelli, Immigration Hard-liner, Tapped for No. 2 Job at Homeland Security Homeland Security
Ken Cuccinelli, Immigration Hard-liner, Tapped for No. 2 Job at Homeland Security

WASHINGTON — Shortly after being sworn in as acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf — who the Senate confirmed as the agency’s policy undersecretary just hours earlier — conducted his first order of business. He moved Ken Cuccinelli, a favorite of immigration... Read More

Giuliani Faces US Probe on Campaign Finance, Lobbying Breaches Political News
Giuliani Faces US Probe on Campaign Finance, Lobbying Breaches

WASHINGTON — Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, is being investigated by federal prosecutors for possible campaign finance violations and a failure to register as a foreign agent as part of an active investigation into his financial dealings, according to three U.S. officials. The probe... Read More

Cellphone Call From Ukraine Could Compound Trump’s Troubles Impeachment
Cellphone Call From Ukraine Could Compound Trump’s Troubles

WASHINGTON — When Donald Trump was constructing the opulent Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan four decades ago, he was infuriated when he saw a thin layer of golden-hued marble lining the walls and column in the lobby, and ordered aides to make it appear twice as... Read More

GSA Audits Sought for Federal Properties Leased to Private Parties Oversight
GSA Audits Sought for Federal Properties Leased to Private Parties
November 14, 2019
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - A pair of House committee chairs want the General Services Administration to conduct audits of federal properties that have been leased to private parties, including the Trump Hotel. Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Dina Titus,... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top