Cherokee Nation Delegate Kim Teehee says it's time for America to fulfill its promise

The Cherokee Nation is calling for US to enforce an 1835 treaty.

ByABC News
November 9, 2022, 2:17 PM

The House Committee on Rules is expected to hold a hearing this month about whether the Cherokee Nation will have a delegate serve in Congress, according to The New York Times.

The Cherokee Nation has been campaigning to uphold their right to a non-voting delegate in Congress, a position they say was promised to them in the 1835 Treaty of New Echota they signed with the United States.

In the treaty, representatives of the Nation ceded 7 million acres of their ancestral land to the United States government and were forcibly relocated to modern-day Oklahoma during what is known as the Trail of Tears.

Kim Teehee, the Cherokee Nation’s Delegate to Congress, was appointed in 2019 and spoke with ABC News’ "Start Here" podcast about the treaty’s history and why the Nation has chosen this moment to take action to enforce what they say is their right.

KIM TEEHEE: My name is Kim Teehee. I'm Cherokee Nation’s delegate to Congress.

So, in the 19th century, the United States and Cherokee Nations' relationship was pretty rocky. Then with westward expansion, there became a lot of pressure to acquire a lot of the tribe's lands and a lot of pressure put on the United States to use its treaty authority.

And so, in 1835, a faction of Cherokee Nation entered into a removal treaty with the United States, which the United States Senate ratified, in which the president of the United States, President Andrew Jackson, at the time signed, which is today the 1835 Treaty of New Echota, which is the location where the treaty was signed.

The Cherokees were forcibly removed from the east to modern-day Oklahoma, where about a quarter of our population perished on that forced march. But the bad stuff didn't end there. The bad stuff throughout the 19th century, up until the 1970s, kept occurring to Cherokee Nation. So we feel like we're in a place today where we've had to rebuild and we can actually assert this treaty right today.

START HERE: Why is this so important to you?

TEEHEE: Well, first of all, I think what it says is that the United States keeps its word, it keeps the promises that it made to tribes through a treaty. That's one reason. The second reason is that it would give us a seat at the table to vocalize our opinions and such when it comes to laws affecting the Cherokee Nation.