TAHLEQUAH, OK – Fueling Cherokee Nation’s call to Congress for representation is a promise dating back to 1835 – a promise Cherokee Nation has been actively seeking to invoke since 2019.
A new exhibit at the Cherokee National History Museum is exploring that promise and how Cherokee Nation’s treaty-mandated Delegate to U.S. Congress differs from diplomatic representatives of the past. It also sheds light on the journey to naming Cherokee Nation citizen Kim Teehee as the tribe’s Delegate to Congress in 2019 and her reappointment this year.
Visitors will discover the complex story behind this iconic promise to Cherokee Nation and how the tribe has navigated U.S. policy, including removal and allotment, to reclaim it in the 21st century.
“This is about deepening our understanding, collectively, of a significant right and the modern-day assertion of that right,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “We encourage visitors to focus on the simplicity of Article 7 in the Treaty of New Echota because the understanding is inescapable. This is an obligation exclusively between Cherokee Nation and the United States of America, which we are bound by treaty to uphold, together, in our relationship as equal partners. The Cherokee Nation is a nation that honors its promises, and we remain hopeful the United States will do the same.”
The Congressional delegate post is afforded by two treaties between Cherokee Nation and the federal government and affirmed by a third.
As the first-ever appointed Cherokee Delegate, Kim Teehee has helped champion the tribe’s efforts to enact the seat. Her career spans work under Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller to work in the White House under U.S. President Barack Obama to directing government relations for both Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses.
“You can’t tell the story of Cherokee Nation without the story of the Treaty of New Echota and the promise the U.S. Government made to seat a Cherokee Nation Delegate in Congress,” said Teehee. “This new exhibit will offer visitors an unprecedented opportunity to learn more about the work our tribe has done to hold the United States accountable and assert our treaty-bound right to a Delegate in Congress.”
The exhibit includes items belonging to Teehee that are representative of her career and personal connection to Washington, D.C., as well as artwork from the Cherokee National Collection depicting past moments in Cherokee history of government-to-government relations.
“Cherokee Delegate: An Unalterable Promise” is on display at the Cherokee National History Museum through June 1, 2024. It is located at 101 S. Muskogee Avenue and is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00am to 4:00pm. Admission is free.