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Hoskin Moves Forward With Plan to Send Cherokee Nation Delegate to Congress

Matt Trotter

Cherokee Nation Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. formally announced former Obama White House adviser Kim Teehee on Thursday as his choice to be the tribe’s delegate to Congress.

A provision in the 1835 Treaty of New Echota, which laid the groundwork for the federal government's forced removal of the Cherokees from the southeastern United States, entitles the tribe to a delegate to the House of Representatives.

Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole this week questioned whether the treaty is still valid.

"It continues to live, much like the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights lives. And so, the provisions that we are exercising today have never been abrogated in our treaties, so they are still in full force and effect," Teehee said.

"I agree 100%," Hoskin said.

Teehee would be a non-voting delegate, like those from U.S. territories, but that doesn’t mean she’ll be powerless.

"Non-voting delegates actually have quite a number of impacts. They can vote in committee. They can introduce bills. They have staff. They have resources. They’re an extra voice in Congress," Teehee said.

While the Cherokee council is expected to approve Teehee's nomination next week, working with Congress to seat her could be a long process. Hoskin said the tribe would make history as the first with a congressional delegate, but they won’t be the only ones who benefit.

"If you look around the region, when the Cherokee Nation wins, when our interests are upheld and when we are able to invest in this region, this whole region wins," Hoskin said. "So, this is really something that the whole region can celebrate. This is something for the people of northeast Oklahoma to celebrate."

Teehee said just two other tribes, the Choctaw Nation and Delaware, have similar provisions in their treaties with the U.S. government.