Indianz.Com > News > Shannon Holsey: U.S. must honor treaty promises to tribal nations
House Committee on Rules: Legal & Procedural Factors Related to Seating a Cherokee Nation Delegate in the U.S. House – November 16, 2022
Seating Cherokee Delegate Strengthens Sovereign Rights for All Tribes  
Tuesday, December 6, 2022
President, Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians

Recently members of the House of Representatives held a hearing on seating the Cherokee Nation’s long-promised delegate to Congress. As they contemplate next steps, I ask them to remember that our voices matter in policymaking. We, after all, were this land’s first people.  

Today we are also neighbors, community leaders, co-workers, business owners and economic drivers of this country. Native Americans help shape America’s past and we are engines of its future. We have long had an undeniable role in the history of the United States. Now we are asking for it to be recognized because we know representation matters. Our voices need to be heard in the nation’s capital as policies are made.  

The Cherokee Nation holds a unique treaty-mandated right, a non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. It was included in the Treaty of New Echota which was signed off on by the president and ratified by the Senate nearly 200 years ago. The delegate has not been seated yet because the House hasn’t voted to seat her, it is the last relatively simple step in a centuries long process.   

Today, as President of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, I joined with the Cherokee Nation in asking for the U.S. House to seat the delegate this year. Our tribe fully supports the exercise of tribal treaty rights, including the seating of a Cherokee delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives, and calls upon the U.S. House to fulfill its obligation to tribes, such as the Cherokee Nation, by seating its delegate this year. 

Why are we supporting this? It is a win for all of Indian Country. Seating a Cherokee Nation delegate in Congress represents an opportunity for the United States to honor a treaty promise, and reverse a longstanding injustice. When the U.S. federal government upholds its treaty obligations to one tribe, it upholds its commitment to all Indian tribes and all treaty rights.  

When the Cherokee Nation’s delegate is seated in the House, she will be a voice for all native communities on the issues that are uniquely important to us – tribal sovereignty, federal funding, and equality of opportunity. This is about lifting up the voices of Native Americans at the highest levels of our government where decisions are made. That’s why there’s already widespread support for this effort.

It is past time for the U.S. to finally fulfill its promise by seating Kim Teehee in Congress. The U.S. is stronger and better when it unites voices and perspectives in policy making and planning. Kim Teehee can be a dedicated voice representing the interests of Natives living in every state across the country. She can advocate on our behalf on issues such as tribal sovereignty, economic development, and tribal governance. When Kim Teehee is seated, I know she will be a strong voice for all Native Americans.  

When the U.S. government keeps its treaty promises to one tribe, it is good for all tribes. That’s why we’re calling for action. Congress, seat the Cherokee Nation’s delegate this year.  

Shannon Holsey is President of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, a federally-recognized tribe of American Indians. She also serves as the Treasurer of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). 

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