OU’s tribal liaison shared his thoughts on the Cherokee Nation's pursuit of a congressional representative.
The Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation announced Aug. 22 it would appoint a delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. As reported by CNN, this right was guaranteed to them by the 1835 Treaty of New Echota, which resulted in the eviction of the Cherokee people from their ancestral homeland.
Warren Queton, OU’s tribal liaison in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, said the specific right to a delegate established in Article 7 of the treaty is still valid.
Queton questioned what this would mean for the other federally recognized Cherokee tribal nations.
“A big question to consider is who represents the two other federally recognized Cherokee tribal nations whose citizens were affected by the same treaty,” Queton said.
This is the first time the Cherokee Nation is asserting its right to a delegate, Queton said.
Queton said he was unsure whether the delegate would have voting privileges, but even a non-voting delegate would still be a major advancement for sovereign tribes. Queton compared the representation to that of U.S. territories, whose singular delegates are also non-voting.
“The delegate could then vote in committees that they are on, introduce legislation and engage in debate,” Queton said. “Cherokee Nation's delegate then could help advance the interests of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and, more broadly, all American Indian people.”