Wednesday, 30 Nov 2022

Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma could get first delegate to Congress in 200 years

Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma could get first delegate to Congress in 200 years


Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma could get first delegate to Congress in 200 years

The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma moved a step closer on Wednesday to having a promise fulfilled from nearly 200 years ago that a delegate from the tribe be seated in Congress.

But McGovern and other committee members, including the ranking member, Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, acknowledged there are some questions that need to be resolved, including whether other Native American tribes are afforded similar rights and whether the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma is the proper successor to the tribe that entered into the treaty with the US government.

McGovern said he has been contacted by officials with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Delaware Nation, both of which have separate treaties with the US government that call for some form of representation in Congress. McGovern also noted there were also two other federally recognized bands of Cherokee Indians that argue they should be considered successors to the 1835 treaty: the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians based in North Carolina, both of which contacted his office.

The UKB selected its own congressional delegate, the Oklahoma attorney Victoria Holland, in 2021. Holland said in an interview with the Associated Press that her tribe is a successor to the Cherokee Nation that signed the 1835 treaty, just like the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Members of the committee seemed to be in agreement that any delegate from the Cherokee Nation would be similar to five other delegates from the District of Columbia, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands. These delegates are assigned to committees and can submit amendments to bills, but cannot vote on the floor for final passage of bills. Puerto Rico is represented by a non-voting resident commissioner who is elected every four years.

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