Cherokee Nation to appoint delegate to US House of Representatives
Based on a 200-year-old treaty, the Cherokee Nation based in Oklahoma, through its new Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. plans to appoint a delegate to the United States House of Representatives. The right to appoint a delegate was also reaffirmed by a subsequent treaty to the Treaty of New Echota of 1835, and by the Cherokee Nation’s Constitution. While the legal right for said delegate has spanned centuries, it has never been exercised, and as such it is unclear as to how Congress might accommodate the position. That said some expect the position to be treated like the delegates from the US territories:
It’s not clear what steps Congress might take to accommodate a CN delegate, but it’s likely they would be a non-voting member, similar to those from American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Washington D.C., said Ezra Rosser, an expert in tribal law and a professor at American University’s College of Law.
The tribe’s attempt could also face a legal challenge and end up in court, Rosser added.
“I’m excited they’re trying it,” said Rosser, who wrote a legal paper on the issue in 2005. “Even if it doesn’t go anywhere, non-Indians should be forced to face up to what we did and I think this is a tool that could be used to challenge not only our understanding of democracy, but also our understanding of history. So I think it’s great.”
However, according to an article by The Oklahoman, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole predicted that it will take a long time to resolve the Cherokee Nation’s claim that it has a treaty right to a delegate to Congress. Cole said the full House would likely have to approve any such change to its membership.
That said, as the Cherokee Phoenix indicates above, this issue is far from settled and will likely face legal and political challenges.