Dem 50
image description
Ties 1
GOP 49
image description

Cherokee Nation Is Fighting for Representation in Congress

All 50 states have at least one representative in the House, but there is a quasi-member who is not from any of the states: Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). She represents D.C. in the House and can do anything a representative can do except vote on the floor of the House. She is a member of some House committees and can vote on them. She has an office in the House office building and a staff. Her position goes to show that people can serve as a representative-lite without actually representing a House district. Furthermore, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands also have nonvoting delegates in the House, although none of them have the profile and clout of Norton.

That brings us to the subject of this item: The Cherokee Nation, one of the three officially recognized Cherokee tribes. In 1835, a treaty signed by President Andrew Jackson promised the Cherokee Nation federal representation. They still haven't gotten it, but now they are pressing hard to get a delegate, just like Norton. There is now a clear precedent, so the argument that only states can have (quasi-)members doesn't really hold water. The Cherokee even have a proposed delegate, Kimberly Teehee, the director of government relations for the tribe. She was also a senior advisor on Native American affairs to Barack Obama, so she knows something about how the government works.

The Cherokee Nation is located largely in Oklahoma, as a result of the Trail of Tears, in which Jackson (and his successor, Martin Van Buren) forced them to relocate from the South. Many Cherokee died on the way. Senator-elect Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation and is a strong supporter of making Teehee a delegate to the House. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), who is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation, also supports Teehee, but has raised the question of whether other tribes should also have representation in the House. We've written about this subject before, but with a member of the Senate and a member of the House now actively pushing for the U.S. to honor its treaties with the tribes, this could be the moment when something finally happens on this front. Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-NM) is also a Cherokee, but she lost her election this year to Gabe Vasquez (D). (V)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates