The Cherokee Nation wants a representative in Congress, taking the US government up on a promise it made nearly 200 years ago
The Cherokee Nation announced Thursday that it intends to appoint a delegate to the US House of Representatives, asserting for the first time a right promised to the tribe in a nearly 200-year-old treaty with the federal government.
It was a historic step for the Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation and its nearly 370,000 citizens, coming about a week after Chuck Hoskin Jr. was sworn in as principal chief of the tribe. The Cherokee Nation says it's the largest tribal nation in the US and one of three federally recognized Cherokee tribes.
The move raises questions about what that representation in Congress would look like and whether the US will honor an agreement it made almost two centuries ago.
The Cherokee Nation's right to appoint a delegate stems from the same treaty that the US government used to forcibly remove the tribe from its ancestral lands.
As a result of the 1835 Treaty of New Echota, the Cherokee were ultimately made to leave their homes in the Southeast for present-day Oklahoma in exchange for money and other compensation. Nearly 4,000 citizens of the tribe died of disease, starvation and exhaustion on the journey now known as the Trail of Tears.
A delegate in the House of Representatives was one of the ways the US government promised to compensate the Cherokee Nation.
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