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Cherokee Nation Nominates Former Obama Official as its Delegate to Congress

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Photo by Lonnie Tague for the Justice Department. Creative Commons License.

Looking to hold the US government to a treaty it signed nearly 200 years ago, the Cherokee Nation has nominated its Vice President, former Obama Administration senior policy adviser on Native American affairs Kmberly Teehee, to represent it as a nonvoting delegate to the United States Congress, CNN reports.

The Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation has about 370,000 citizens. The 1835 Treaty of New Echota forced the Cherokee to move from their lands, and 4,000 people died of starvation and disease on what became known as the Trail of Tears. As compensation, the federal government promised the Cherokee a Congressional delegate, but the nation has never taken the US up on that offer until now. Federal courts have allowed the federal government to reneg on treaties with indigenous nations in the past. It’s not yet clear whether this treaty will be upheld, though the Cherokee Nation has been working with Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation to make sure that it is.

“It will be a process that I think will be a long one, but it’s one we’re prepared to take,” newly elected Cherokee principal chief Chuck Hoskin told CNN.