Kimberly Teehee could be the Cherokee Nation’s first delegate in Congress if lawmakers uphold a 200-year-old treaty.
Teehee was confirmed by the Cherokee tribal council to be the tribe’s first delegate in the House of Representatives. The tribe is exercising a right stipulated in treaties with the U.S. government from 1785 and 1835. It states, “It is stipulated that they shall be entitled to a delegate in the House of Representatives of the United States whenever Congress shall make provision for the same.”
“Just because they’re old documents doesn’t mean that they’re not valid,” Teehee stated. “They are still live documents, much like the U.S. Constitution and much like the Bill of Rights, and so, the unprecedented aspect is that we want to assert our treaty right to have a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
Cherokee Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. nominated Teehee. If Congress accepts her delegation, her responsibilities could look similar to those of non-voting delegates from U.S. territories like Guam and the Virgin Islands.
There are currently four members of Congress who are members of tribal nations, including Deb Haaland and Sharice Davis. But Teehee would specifically represent the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee Nation is the largest tribal nation in the U.S., with approximately 400,000 federally recognized citizens. But Teehee said she has plans to address all of Indian Country, including championing mandatory federal funding.