Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Cherokee Nation names first delegate to U.S. House

Kimberley Teehee
(AP photo by Sue Ogrocki)
The Cherokee Nation has named Kimberly Teehee as its first ever delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. The former Obama administration official's nomination was approved by the tribe's council last week. Though the 1835 Treaty of New Echota—the document that led to the Trail of Tears—established the right to a non-voting delegate to the House, the Cherokee have never named one, Graham Brewer reports for NPR.

Teehee is an Oklahoma native who interned for the Cherokee Nation's first female chief, Wilma Mankiller, in the 1980s. After graduating from law school, Teehee worked for the Democratic National Committee, as a Capitol Hill staffer, and then in the Obama administration. "Teehee has been an outsized figure on Capitol Hill for decades when it comes to Indian Country policy," Brewer reports. "Her fingerprints are on a wide variety of policy and laws affecting Indigenous people, from the Violence against Women Act to the creation of Congress's first Native American caucus."

New Cherokee Nation Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. made appointing Teehee one of his first priorities, and said he chose her because of her reputation for embracing bipartisan work. Teehee has close relationships with Oklahoma Republican Reps. Tom Cole, a member of Chickasaw Nation, and Markwayne Mullin, a fellow Cherokee, Brewer reports.

"For her part, Teehee says she understands her appointment will help bring visibility to a nearly invisible part of American society," Brewer reports. "And that could have a lasting impact on areas like Indian Health Services funding, education expansion on tribal lands and treaty rights, like the one that led to her appointment."

No comments: