The Cherokee Nation plans to send a delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in history, the tribe announced on Thursday.
“As Native issues continue to rise to the forefront of the national dialogue, now is the time for Cherokee Nation to execute a provision in our treaties,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. declared in a press release.
The tribe’s right to a congressional delegate is enshrined in the 1785 Treaty of Hopewell from 1785, the 1835 Treaty of New Echota, and the Treaty of 1866.
“The Cherokee Nation honors its treaties with the United States,” Chief Hoskin said. “Whether the United States will likewise honor its promises to the Cherokee Nation is a question that only its elected leaders can answer.”
The delegate nominee is Kim Teehee, the Cherokee Nation’s vice president of government relations.
“This is a historic moment for Cherokee Nation and our citizens,” Teehee said in the press release. “I am truly humbled Chief Hoskin has nominated me for this extraordinary responsibility.”
While it’s unclear how much voting power Teehee would have, if any, Hoskin told CNN that her role in Congress could be modeled after that of the delegates representing U.S. territories, such as Guam.
According to Hoskin, the tribe will need to work Congress to create the position if Teehee’s nomination is confirmed by the Cherokee Nation’s tribal council.