A House committee plans to consider the question of whether the Cherokee Nation, an Oklahoma-based Native American tribe with more than 400,000 members, should be granted representation in Congress under an 1835 treaty.
The hearing marks progress for the tribe, which has been seeking the delegate’s seating since 2019. Still, the issue is far from settled legally, and many thorny issues would need to be resolved.
“The House Rules Committee plans to hold a hearing on this matter soon,” a senior Democratic aide told HuffPost on Friday.
The delegate’s status, if seated, would likely resemble that of several non-voting officials who currently represent U.S. jurisdictions such as Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and, most famously, the District of Columbia. Depending on which party holds power in the House, the delegates have sometimes been granted the right to vote in committee, but generally have not been allowed to vote on the House floor.
The Cherokees were one of several Native tribes forced from the Southeastern United States in the 1820s and 1830s as the nation expanded. Under a treaty signed in New Echota, Georgia, the Cherokees, after fighting with U.S. military forces and under pressure from American settlers, agreed to move west to the territory that would become Oklahoma, in exchange for cash and other considerations.
That forced removal west, in which a quarter of the Cherokees perished, became known as the “Trail of Tears.”
The 1835 treaty includes language that says the Cherokees “shall be entitled to a delegate in the House of Representatives of the United States whenever Congress shall make provision for the same.”
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