Three Cherokee tribes are pushing aggressively for the U.S. government to make good on a 187 year old promise to award them a sitting delegate in the House of Representatives. But, sensing that lawmakers may finally act amid the Biden administration’s historic advances in Native American causes, they’re also quietly competing against each other for the largely ceremonial seat.
One of the tribes, the Cherokee Nation, has launched a Facebook and Instagram ad campaign, and its leaders have booked major television appearances. Another tribe, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, enlisted a PR firm to push back against the narrative that the Cherokee Nation is deserving of the single proposed delegate. The third, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, said the issue is a legislative priority for 2023.
May I comment that this is what happens when you get lawyers involved! The three groups should resolve this issue in their traditional manner of tribal councils: Much cheaper, quicker, and certainly more effective. They can then deliver their formal request, through the media, direct to Congress.
Unfortunately, they’ve learned the good old American way; they’ve donated generously to lawmakers. Since the beginning of 2021, Federal Election Commission reports show the Cherokee Nation made more than $900,000 in donations to candidates or political action committees; while the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians made nearly $500,000 in donations; and the United Keetoowah Band, the third, has given more than $9,000.
The aggressive push for the non-voting seat, similar to the ones held by representatives from Washington, D.C., Guam, Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, is being sparked by the belief that lawmakers are finally willing to move on the matter.
The Biden administration has shone the brightest spotlight on Native American issues in recent history. The president appointed Deb Haaland as the nation’s first Native American Cabinet member, when she became Interior Secretary. Last fall, he pledged to protect 450,000 acres of ancestral Navajo land from future development by declaring the region a national monument. And, in November, the House held a historic hearing on seating the Cherokee delegate.
Eager to see that momentum extended to the fulfilment of the treaty to seat a delegate, tribal leaders have turned to influence peddling. Indeed, the delegate that the Cherokee Nation has chosen — should it be awarded one — is Kimberly Teehee, a former registered tribal lobbyist and Obama administration alum.
The right to a House delegate comes from a treaty signed in December 1835 between the federal government and the Cherokee tribe. Unfortunately, that treaty also led to the brutally forced removal of the tribe from its ancestral home to land in what is now Oklahoma. The route to that new land became known as the Trail of Tears.
“When we renewed the effort to get our Cherokee Nation delegate seated, we knew it would not be easy. But, we’re making progress,” said Chuck Hoskins Jr, the Cherokee Nation principal chief, in a statement. “The House held the first-ever hearing on seating the Cherokee Nation delegate, and we’re encouraged by the positive bipartisan response from Congress, and remain inspired by how many people across the country have joined us.”
I have a comment here which is partially based on my outrage that the U.S. Congress continues to treat certain groups of American citizens as if they are, in some way, inferior and second-class. It is also partially based on my education about the issue from spending over forty-years in Puerto Rico.
ALL U.S. CITIZENS SHOULD BE ENTITLED TO FULL REPRESENTATION IN CONGRESS. THE CHEROKEE TRIBE HAS BEEN WAITING 187 YEARS, PUERTO RICO HAS BEEN WAITING SINCE 1917. IF THE U.S. CONGRESS WAS CALLOUS, AND RACIALLY DRIVEN ENOUGH, TO PUT NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBES ON RESERVATIONS, THOSE RESERVATIONS SHOULD BE REGARDED AS U.S. STATES, AND GIVEN THE REPRESENTATION THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO EXPECT.
NONE OF THIS “NON-VOTING MEMBERSHIP” NONSENSE – PUERTO RICO ALREADY HAS THAT, FOR ALL THE GOOD IT DOES THEM – FULL CITIZENSHIP DEMANDS FULL REPRESENTATION.
ISN’T THAT SUPPOSED TO BE THE BASIC TENET OF THE UNITED STATES THAT WAS ESTABLISHED WHEN THE COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED?