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

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A House committee plans to contemplate the query of whether the Cherokee Nation, an Oklahoma-based Native American tribe with greater than 400,000 members, needs to be granted representation in Congress under an 1835 treaty.

The hearing marks progress for the tribe, which has been searching for the delegate’s seating since 2019. Still, the problem is removed from settled legally, and plenty of thorny issues would have to be resolved.

“The House Rules Committee plans to carry a hearing on this matter soon,” a senior Democratic aide told HuffPost on Friday.

The delegate’s status, if seated, would likely resemble that of several non-voting officials who currently represent U.S. jurisdictions akin to Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and, most famously, the District of Columbia. Depending on which party holds power within the House, the delegates have sometimes been granted the proper to vote in committee, but generally haven’t been allowed to vote on the House floor.

The Cherokees were considered one of several Native tribes forced from the Southeastern United States within the 1820s and 1830s because the nation expanded. Under a treaty signed in Latest Echota, Georgia, the Cherokees, after fighting with U.S. military forces and under pressure from American settlers, agreed to maneuver west to the territory that might grow to be Oklahoma, in exchange for money and other considerations.

That forced removal west, wherein 1 / 4 of the Cherokees perished, became referred to as the “Trail of Tears.”

The 1835 treaty includes language that claims the Cherokees “shall be entitled to a delegate within the House of Representatives of the USA at any time when Congress shall make provision for a similar.”

In August 2019, Chuck Hoskin Jr., the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, announced the tribe was starting the method to have a delegate sent to Congress. Hoskin named tribal member Kim Teehee, the senior adviser for Native American affairs within the Obama White House, as his and the tribal council’s selection.

However the pandemic delayed things, and movement on the problem appeared to stall. Earlier this week, though, the Cherokees released a video calling for Teehee to be seated by the tip of the yr.

“The Treaty of Latest Echota has no expiration date,” Hoskin said within the video. “The duty to seat a Cherokee Nation delegate is as binding today because it was in 1835.”

“I’ve checked out the treaty. I believe they’ve a legitimate case.”

– Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.)

A part of the delay in determining whether to seat the delegate was on account of the necessity to research the legal ramifications. A second senior Democratic aide told HuffPost: “Last yr, the Committee on House Administration tasked the Congressional Research Service to provide a report on the legal and procedural issues related to seating a Cherokee Nation Delegate within the House. That report was accomplished at the tip of July this yr.”

The CRS report noted there could possibly be legal issues to a delegate’s seating, including whether it could violate the principle of “one person, one vote” by giving Cherokee residents extra representation along with that provided by their elected U.S. House member. But whether that query could even be decided by a court was unclear, the CRS said.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the rating Republican on the principles committee and a member of the Chickasaw Nation ― and subsequently considered one of only a handful of Native Americans in Congress ― told HuffPost numerous questions would have to be answered first, including in regards to the House’s constitutional right to find out its own members.

Still, he said he’s friends with Teehee, the proposed delegate, and he thinks the Cherokee Nation has a case to make.

“I’ve checked out the treaty. I believe they’ve a legitimate case,” he said. “By and enormous, look, I think in treaty rights being enforced, but the ultimate arbiter of whether or not we seat anyone will probably be the House of Representatives.”

Senior reporter Arthur Delaney contributed to this story.

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