Cherokees Ask U.S. to Make Good on a 187-Year-Old Promise, for a Start

The Cherokee Nation has about 430,000 citizens, Ms. Teehee said, which is more than the combined population of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands, all of which have their own delegates in Congress.

So far, the Nation has drawn backing from Native American leaders across the country, as well as measured support from members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation, including Representative Tom Cole, a Republican and member of the Chickasaw Nation.

The House Rules Committee, led by Mr. Cole and Representative Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, is expected to hold a hearing on the Cherokee delegate in mid-November. Even if control of Congress changes in next week’s midterm elections, that could open the way for a vote before the end of the year.

Tribal nations across the United States are closely following the debate, eyeing the possibility that it could set a precedent. The Choctaw Nation may also have the right to a delegate under the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek of 1830, signed before its removal from what is now Mississippi. Similarly, the Delaware Nation’s treaty with the United States in 1778 could allow its members a delegate.

“I think you’ll see a significant outcry from the rest of Indian Country saying, ‘We want one, too,’” said M. Alexander Pearl, a law professor at the University of Oklahoma and a citizen of Chickasaw Nation. “And I think that they’re right.”

Still, the Cherokees could face headwinds in the deeply divided House. Ms. Teehee is a Democrat and former adviser to President Barack Obama. A spokesman for Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the Cherokees’ effort.

Mr. Cole, the Oklahoma Republican, has said that he doesn’t object to seating the delegate, but he also noted that “there’s a lot of challenges to it,” including the question of dual representation in the House.



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