Cherokee Nation’s Case For Congressional Delegate To Get A House Committee Hearing

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A House committee plans to see the question of whether the Cherokee Nation, an Oklahoma-based Native American people with much than 400,000 members, should beryllium granted practice successful Congress nether an 1835 treaty.

The proceeding marks advancement for the tribe, which has been seeking the delegate’s seating since 2019. Still, the contented is acold from settled legally, and galore thorny issues would request to beryllium resolved.

“The House Rules Committee plans to clasp a proceeding connected this substance soon,” a elder Democratic adjutant told HuffPost connected Friday.

The delegate’s status, if seated, would apt lucifer that of respective non-voting officials who presently correspond U.S. jurisdictions specified arsenic Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and, astir famously, the District of Columbia. Depending connected which enactment holds powerfulness successful the House, the delegates person sometimes been granted the close to ballot successful committee, but mostly person not been allowed to ballot connected the House floor.

The Cherokees were 1 of respective Native tribes forced from the Southeastern United States successful the 1820s and 1830s arsenic the federation expanded. Under a treaty signed successful New Echota, Georgia, the Cherokees, aft warring with U.S. subject forces and nether unit from American settlers, agreed to determination westbound to the territory that would go Oklahoma, successful speech for currency and different considerations.

That forced removal west, successful which a 4th of the Cherokees perished, became known arsenic the “Trail of Tears.”

The 1835 pact includes connection that says the Cherokees “shall beryllium entitled to a delegate successful the House of Representatives of the United States whenever Congress shall marque proviso for the same.”

In August 2019, Chuck Hoskin Jr., the main main of the Cherokee Nation, announced the people was opening the process to person a delegate sent to Congress. Hoskin named tribal subordinate Kim Teehee, the elder advisor for Native American affairs successful the Obama White House, arsenic his and the tribal council’s choice.

But the pandemic delayed things, and question connected the contented appeared to stall. Earlier this week, though, the Cherokees released a video calling for Teehee to beryllium seated by the extremity of the year.

“The Treaty of New Echota has nary expiration date,” Hoskin said successful the video. “The work to spot a Cherokee Nation delegate is arsenic binding contiguous arsenic it was successful 1835.”

“I’ve looked astatine the treaty. I deliberation they person a morganatic case.”

- Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.)

Part of the hold successful figuring retired whether to spot the delegate was owed to the request to probe the ineligible ramifications. A 2nd elder Democratic adjutant told HuffPost: “Last year, the Committee connected House Administration tasked the Congressional Research Service to nutrient a study connected the ineligible and procedural issues related to seating a Cherokee Nation Delegate successful the House. That study was completed astatine the extremity of July this year.”

The CRS study noted determination could beryllium ineligible issues to a delegate’s seating, including whether it would interruption the rule of “one person, 1 vote” by giving Cherokee citizens other practice successful summation to that provided by their elected U.S. House member. But whether that question could adjacent beryllium decided by a tribunal was unclear, the CRS said.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the ranking Republican connected the rules committee and a subordinate of the Chickasaw Nation ― and truthful 1 of lone a fistful of Native Americans successful Congress ― told HuffPost a batch of questions would request to beryllium answered first, including astir the House’s law close to find its ain members.

Still, helium said helium is friends with Teehee, the projected delegate, and helium thinks the Cherokee Nation has a lawsuit to make.

“I’ve looked astatine the treaty. I deliberation they person a morganatic case,” helium said. “By and large, look, I judge successful pact rights being enforced, but the last arbiter of whether oregon not we spot idiosyncratic volition beryllium the House of Representatives.”

Senior newsman Arthur Delaney contributed to this story.

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