TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. announced Thursday that the tribe is taking a historic initial step to enact the Cherokee Nation’s treaty right to send a delegate to the U.S. Congress.
The Cherokee Nation delegate is referenced in both the Treaty of Hopewell from 1785 and Treaty of New Echota from 1835 between the Cherokee Nation and federal government. The Treaty of 1866 also reaffirms all previous treaties between the Cherokee Nation and United States.
Chief Hoskin’s Congressional delegate nomination is part of his “First 100 Days in Office” initiatives and is aimed at strengthening the tribe’s sovereignty.
“As Native issues continue to rise to the forefront of the national dialogue, now is the time for Cherokee Nation to execute a provision in our treaties. It’s a right negotiated by our ancestors in two treaties with the federal government and reaffirmed in the Treaty of 1866, and reflected in our Constitution. At Cherokee Nation, we are exercising our treaty rights and strengthening our sovereignty,” Chief Hoskin said. “We know this is just the beginning and there is much work ahead, but we are being thorough in terms of implementation and ask our leaders in Washington to work with us through this process and on legislation that provides the Cherokee Nation with the delegate to which we are lawfully entitled.”
Chief Hoskin said the Cherokee Nation has been committed to honoring its treaty obligations and hopes the federal government will follow suit.
“The Cherokee Nation honors its treaties with the United States. Whether the United States will likewise honor its promises to the Cherokee Nation is a question that only its elected leaders can answer,” Chief Hoskin said.
Chief Hoskin also announced he is nominating Kim Teehee, the tribe’s current vice president of government relations, to serve as the delegate. Teehee’s nomination must be confirmed by the Council of the Cherokee Nation at a special meeting Aug. 29.
“Kim Teehee has worked for years advocating in Congress, on a bi-partisan basis, for the interests of Cherokee Nation and is supremely qualified for this post,” Chief Hoskin said. “We are eager to take the recommendation before the Council of the Cherokee Nation and work with our Congressional delegation from Oklahoma to move this historic appointment forward.”
Before being named the tribe’s vice president of government relations in 2014, Teehee served President Barack Obama as the first-ever senior policy advisor for Native American affairs in the White House Domestic Policy Council for three years. Prior to serving in the White House, she was senior advisor to the U.S. House of Representatives Native American Caucus Co-Chair, Rep. Dale Kildee D-MI. Serving the bi-partisan caucus for nearly 12 years, she established an impressive record of accomplishments on a wide array of Native American issues, including appropriations, education, economic development, energy, health care, housing, agriculture and transportation.
Teehee said she is proud Chief Hoskin has taken the initiative to exercise the tribe’s treaty right and honored to be chosen as the first-ever nominee to represent the tribe as a delegate in Congress.
"This is a historic moment for Cherokee Nation and our citizens. I am truly humbled Chief Hoskin has nominated me for this extraordinary responsibility,” Teehee said. “I remain supportive of his vision for the future of our tribal government and grateful for the opportunity to serve the great Cherokee Nation. This journey is just beginning and we have a long way to go to see this through to fruition. However, a Cherokee Nation delegate to Congress is a negotiated right that our ancestors advocated for, and today, our tribal nation is stronger than ever and ready to defend all our constitutional and treaty rights. It’s just as important in 2019 as it was in our three treaties.”
Teehee said the Cherokee Nation will continue working with the Oklahoma delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives to move this appointment forward.