Cherokee Nation Hopeful Delegate To Congress Could Be Seated This Year

Feb 12, 2021

Cherokee Nation's nominee to serve as the tribe's delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives is hopeful she could be seated in Washington soon.

"I anticipate this administration supporting a delegate to Congress and I anticipate us getting seated this year -- in this session, knock on wood," Kimberly Teehee, Cherokee Nation's director of government relations, said on a Thursday virtual forum hosted by Cherokee Nation Community and Cultural Outreach.

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. nominated Teehee for the post in 2019, citing a right granted the tribe under the 1835 Treaty of New Echota with the federal government.

"That is an effort that we will be pushing even harder in 2021," Hoskin said Thursday. "She needs to be seated in the United States House of Representatives. If you want Congress to get better, then our delegate needs to be seated, because she will make Congress better."

Teehee, who worked in the Obama White House, said she believes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will wait to seat her until Deb Haaland, President Joe Biden's nominee to lead the Department of the Interior, is officially seated, becoming the first Native American woman in a Cabinet post.

"We do believe, just because I worked on the Hill for so long, instinctively I know how this Speaker works," Teehee said. "She likes to work in coordination with the White House, and for something as historic as seating a delegate for the very first time in fulfillment of a treaty right that is unchallenged, I can't imagine she would actually take that action until Deb, maybe, is seated, because she will want some nod from this administration that they support that action."

Pelosi's office did not return a request for comment.

Teehee said Haaland has met with Okla. GOP Sen. James Lankford, who now sits on the Senate committee responsible for her confirmation, and a call has been scheduled between Lankford and Hoskin to express Cherokee Nation's support for Haaland to lead Interior.

Teehee also suggested tribal citizens write their current members of Congress expressing support for her being seated as Congressional delegate, noting Cherokee Nation has a template letter available.

When seated, Cherokee Nation's delegate would be a non-voting member of Congress, similar to those representing U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.