Meet the Woman the Cherokee Nation Wants to Send to Congress

The Cherokee Nation is moving to send the first-ever sovereign Native American delegate to Congress, based on a stipulation in a nearly 200 year old treaty. Meet Kimberly Teehee, their nominee for a seat at the table.

On the way to equally represent in congress

Kimberly Teehee of the Cherokee Nation could be the first appointee by a Native American tribe to be a delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Cherokee Nation’s right to appoint a delegate comes from the 1835 Treaty of New Echota — the same treaty that the U.S. used to forcibly remove the Cherokee from their ancestral lands in the Trail of Tears. Nearly 4,000 Cherokee citizens died during their removal. Representation in the House of Representatives was promised as part of the compensation. Now, the Cherokee Nation thinks it’s time for the U.S. to hold up its end of the deal.

“Our ancestors suffered greatly when they were forcibly removed from the east because of land cessions that were made in this treaty that was signed — the provision was put in there to make sure that Indian tribes had a voice in the House of Representatives so that these kinds of policies and actions will not take place any longer. It would be an historic thing to put a delegate into the House of Representatives, much like the U.S. territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and Mariana Islands has delegates as well. We want people to want to do something historic for its indigenous population in this country internationally. It would be sending a wonderful message to the international community that this country lives up to its bargain ends and that it respects tribal rights and respects its treaties,” advocates Kimberly Teehee.

While a Cherokee Nation delegate wouldn’t vote on the House floor, they could vote in committees, introduce legislation, and engage in debate. With Congressional representatives like Deb Haaland (D-NM), Sharice Davids (D-KS), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Tom Cole (R-OK) bringing more indigenous representation to Washington, Teehee says this is just the beginning.