Kimberly Teehy’s career in politics is something to be envied.
Since entering the field in the 1980s after graduating from University of Iowa Law School, the Cherokee Nation’s power has risen to levels rarely seen by a Native American woman in United States government.
In the 1990s, she was the first deputy director of Native American Outreach on the Democratic National Committee, then held a similar role as part of President Bill Clinton’s second inaugural committee. After the DNC-Clinton transition team, Tahey will continue to serve as a senior advisor under the leadership of longtime Democratic Congressman from Michigan Dale Keldy, who served as the co-chair of the Native American Caucus in the House of Representatives.
A year into the administration of President Barack Obama in 2009, Tehi served on the White House Domestic Policy Council, advising the president on Indian boycott issues as Senior Policy Adviser on Native American Affairs.
But in 2019, Teehee was nominated for a position that no Native American – man or woman – has held in US history. She was appointed as a non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives on behalf of the Cherokee Nation.
The position is 187 years in the making, dating back to the Treaty of New Ekota.
Signed by the United States government and the Eastern Cherokee nation of Georgia in 1835, the treaty began the Trail of Tears, which saw about 16,000 Cherokee tribe members and their slaves march west to Oklahoma from their ancestral homes in the eastern and southern United States. It is estimated that over 4,000 Cherokees and an unknown number of slaves died during the three-year migration period, between 1836 and 1839.
In addition to ceding their tribal lands to make the brutal journey west, the tribe secured a non-voting seat in the House of Representatives.
In this position, the delegate will act in the same manner as other non-voting delegates from other U.S. territories such as American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands, and be able to participate in committees and vote on bills as part of of them, but they cannot vote on bills submitted to the entire House of Representatives.
Until 2019, Congress failed to follow through on the delegates’ portion of the nearly two-century-old treaty.
That, until he nominated Cherokee’s main boss, Chuck Hoskin Jr. Teehee to be a delegate for Cherokee Nation in 2019.
“it will be from [a] Little bit of justice for those who lost their lives in a forced march,” Tehei said in A recent interview with the Kentucky outlet, Echo guard.
She was about to make history that year or early 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic hit, sending House approval waning. Then 2021 became the target year, particularly with Teehey advising President Joe Biden that he would push for more representation for tribes in the course of the campaign trail. But 2021 has come and gone.
With the end of 2022 approaching, the Cherokee Nation solidified its desire to confirm Teehee via a House vote. So it opened appearance For Americans to call on their representatives to press for action.
In preparation for the resolution, I brought the Congressional Research Service together a report (Released July) Detailed modern interpretation of the 1835 Treaty to guide decision-making. There are also concerns about giving members of the Cherokee tribe dual representation in the House of Representatives.
“There are a lot of people who would say, ‘Well, this delegate was chosen by a council, not by a general election,'” Oklahoma Representative Tom Cole The New York Times quoted him as saying, earlier this year about a delegate effort. “Then the Cherokee get two votes: your vote for a member of the House and their vote for the congressman in their district, so they kind of get two bites of the apple.”
However, the Congressional Research Service report recommended that if there is “ambiguity regarding tribal interests,” it “should be interpreted in the interest of the tribes.” In other words, the tribes should get what they want in the event that treaty-dated language gets in the way.
On this front, the Teehee and Cherokee Nation could open the door for more tribes across the country to have a greater say in Congress.
In addition to the Treaty of New Echota conferring a delegate to the Cherokee Nation, the Choctaw Nation can also be eligible for a delegate under the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Even an earlier treaty from 1778 with the Delaware Nation could also give it a delegate.
Middle time with the Supreme Court slowly Treatment may include medications and supportive care Sovereign of the indigenous tribes, delegates like Tehi can stand on the frontline and in a more important place than ever before.
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