In 1835, U.S. officials traveled to the Cherokee Nation’s capital in Georgia to sign a treaty forcing the Cherokees off their lands in the American South, opening them to white settlers. The Treaty of New Echota sent thousands on a death march to new lands in Oklahoma. The Cherokees were forced at gunpoint to honor the treaty, which stipulated that the Nation would be entitled to a nonvoting seat in the House of Representatives. But Congress reneged on that promise. Now, amid a growing movement across Indian Country for greater representation and sovereignty, the Cherokees are pushing to seat that delegate, 187 years later. “For nearly two centuries, Congress has failed to honor that promise,” Chuck Hoskin Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, said in a recent interview in the Cherokee capital of Tahlequah, in eastern Oklahoma. “It’s time to insist the United States keep its word.” The Cherokees and other tribal nations have made significant gains in recent decades, plowing income from sources like casino gambling into hospitals, meat-processing plants and lobbyists in Washington. At the same time, though, those tribes are seeing new threats to their efforts to govern themselves. A U.S. Supreme Court tilting hard to the right seems ready to undermine or reverse sovereignty rulings that were considered settled, while new state laws may affect how schools teach Native American history. And tribes are embroiled in a caustic feud with Oklahoma’s Republican governor — despite his distinction as the first Cherokee citizen to lead the state — that has helped to make his re-election bid next week a tossup.
Full Article: Cherokees Ask U.S. to Make Good on a 187-Year-Old Promise, for a Start – The New York Times