COMMENTARY: Cherokee Nation has no rights to seat a delegate in Congress

by Dec 13, 2022OPINIONS0 comments


United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians elder


The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) has conducted a major ad campaign to generate support to have a delegate seated in the House of Representatives. Several native leaders across the country and legislators are supporting this action, accepting at face value what Cherokee Nation has said.

Cherokee Nation leadership has the audacity to demand that the US government honor a 187 year old treaty, a treaty they are not party to…Article 7 of the Treaty of New Echota,( the removal treaty) does contain a provision that the Cherokee Nation can seat a delegate in Congress. There is only one problem, the present-day Cherokee Nation (of Oklahoma) does not have this right, because they are not the signors of the 1835 Treaty of New Echota.

Clearly documented history tells the true story of the demise of the Cherokee Nation, and it has never been resurrected except in the minds of Cherokee Nation leadership.

Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Journalist Maria Ressa explains in her book that lies spread faster than the truth, and with social media, a fact can become a lie, or a lie said a million times becomes a fact.  When the truth is distorted in social media, it can become a fact to some. This propaganda technique has been used effectively by the Cherokee Nation since its reorganization in 1976.

Two distinct Cherokee groups were signors of the 1835 Treaty, the Eastern Emigrants and Western Cherokees,(from which the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma derive). These two groups became unified by the Treaty of 1846.

Land claims for lands in the East were executed by the Western Cherokees and Eastern Emigrants. The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma were not party to the land claims.  Why? Because they are not party to the 1835 Treaty.

Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (IRA) and the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act (OIWA) to reverse the negative effects of enculturation policies. The United Keetoowah Band, composed of Western Cherokees, also called Old Settlers, Keetoowah Society and the Eastern Emigrants received its federal recognition in 1946 and reorganized under OIWA in 1950, and with that should have received full rights, benefits, and privileges of the IRA, and the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. This has not come to pass, primarily due to Cherokee Nation claiming these rights.

Cherokee Nation’s final treaty with the U.S. government is the Treaty of 1866. This is why CNO could not reorganize under the OIWA. The government determined Cherokee Nation’s citizenry in that treaty, which is comprised of mixed-blood Cherokees, other tribes and races. In an October 20 issue of the Tahlequah Daily Press, there was a statement that the UKB organized under the OIWA for the purpose of starting a cattle business, then became an economic entity, and now is a band of Cherokees. This in an incorrect statement.

Now, the Cherokee Nation is demanding that they have a delegate seated in the House of Representatives, for a treaty right they do not have. The House Rules Committee held a hearing on Nov. 16 with no due diligence of examining history.