Delegate to Congress

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should the Cherokee Nation’s delegate be seated in the U.S. Congress in 2022?

For nearly 200 years, the Cherokee Nation has had the right to a delegate seat in Congress. In 1835, when the Cherokee Nation was forcibly moved west into Indian Territory on what became known as “The Trail of Tears,” one quarter of the tribe’s population, including men, women and children, perished. However, the treaty used to remove the Cherokee Nation also guaranteed the sovereign government a voice in Congress, as negotiated in the Treaty of New Echota. The Treaty was ratified by the Senate in 1836 and then signed into law by President Andrew Jackson. The House of Representatives has had nearly two centuries to follow through on its obligation to seat a Cherokee Nation delegate. It’s time to act and seat the Cherokee Nation’s first-ever official delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives. Kim Teehee was appointed by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. in 2019 to fulfill the delegate role, and unanimously confirmed by the Council of the Cherokee Nation. 

Why now?

The House of Representatives is nearly two centuries late in fulfilling its obligation. The obligation to seat a Cherokee Nation delegate in Congress remains as binding today as it was in 1835. It’s time to seat the delegate, during this session.

Will all Native Americans benefit?

Seating the Cherokee Nation’s delegate will provide the Cherokee Nation sovereign government with official representation in the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time.

The Cherokee Nation delegate will also be an advocate for all Native American issues.

Having a delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives would fundamentally alter the relationship between the U.S. government and Indian Country for the better by ensuring tribes are more engaged as policies are made. Seating a delegate from the Cherokee Nation has broad support from the Native American community, including the National Congress of American Indians, the oldest and largest Native advocacy organization in the country.

What does Congress need to do?

Although the Treaty of New Echota promised the Cherokee Nation a delegate to Congress nearly 200 years ago, the U.S. House of Representatives has not yet fulfilled this promise.

We are asking the U.S. government to follow its own law and treaty. Our ancestors were promised a voice in Congress. It is past time for the House of Representatives to uphold its end of the deal and fulfill this promise by seating the Cherokee Nation’s delegate, Kim Teehee.

The president and Senate have acted. All that is left is for the House of Representatives to seat the delegate and honor the commitment made.

What is a delegate to the U.S. House?

Delegates provide the constituencies they represent with a voice in Congress.

Delegates have served in the U.S. House as far back as the late 18th century. Today, four U.S. territories (American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands), along with the District of Columbia, are represented by a delegate to the U.S. House. The territory of Puerto Rico is represented by a resident commissioner, who has the same powers and responsibilities as a delegate. The last delegate to be added was the Northern Mariana Island in 2008.

Delegates cannot vote on the floor or preside over floor sessions.

Delegates, however, can speak on the House floor and in Committees, introduce bills, resolutions, and amendments, and serve on and vote in House committees.

Who is Kim Teehee?

Kim Teehee is the Cherokee Nation’s first-ever delegate-designate to the U.S. House. She was appointed by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. in August 2019, and her appointment was unanimously approved by the Cherokee Council on August 29, 2019.

Teehee is ready to serve and will be a voice representing all Native Americans in Congress.

She is widely respected by tribal communities across the U.S. and among Washington, D.C. policymakers. Her ability to bridge both communities and issues is why she has been selected to serve as the Cherokee Nation’s first delegate to Congress.

Teehee is well qualified, having served in leadership positions in a presidential administration, on Capitol Hill and in her community. NPR’s Graham Lee Brewer said of Teehee that her, “...“fingerprints are on a wide variety of policy and laws affecting Indigenous people, from the Violence Against Women Act to the creation of Congress' first Native American caucus…”

Kim is widely-respected in tribal communities across the country and among Washington, D.C. policymakers. As President Obama’s first-ever senior policy advisor for Native American Affairs on the White House Domestic Policy Council, she worked with federal agencies to develop and implement policies focused on a wide breadth of issues for Indian Country. Kim guided the Administration’s support for the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and spearheaded the effort in the 2013 Violence Against Women Act to hold all perpetrators of domestic violence accountable for their crimes against Native American women, closing a jurisdictional gap in Indian Country. Kim also played a key role in the White House’s Tribal Nations Conferences.

Who are the Cherokee?

The Cherokee Nation is the largest tribal government in the United States representing more than 430,000 citizens living in all 50 states, and across the globe

Chuck Hoskin Jr. was elected to serve as the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation in 2019. In one of his first acts as principal chief, he appointed the tribe's first delegate to Congress, Kim Teehee.