Millions of Cherokee Citizens Are Owed Delegate to Congress

Kevin A. Thompson
December 7, 2022

(Image: street sign in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Cherokee Nation Capital: from Wikipedia.)

“Osiyo” is how Cherokee Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr greeted the US Congress, in the Cherokee language. This was the second time in 2022, that I know of, that an expert witness testified before a Congressional committee using an Indigenous language. First, it was the Muscogee Creek ambassador Jonadev Chaudhuri, in July, this time it’s Cherokee Chief Hoskin Jr, in November. 

Personally, I would like every session of Congress to open with an Indigenous language used in some capacity, just to remind Americans which languages were spoken here first, but I digress.

After acknowledging the House Rules Committee and the Cherokee officials who accompanied him, including Cherokee Nation delegate Kim Teehee, Chief Hoskin Jr made a whopper of an opening statement:

“I speak to you today on behalf of not only the more 440,000 citizens of the Cherokee Nation but millions of Cherokee Citizens who have waited for this day to come since 1835.” That's the date of the Treaty of New Echota, which promised land in Indian Territory and also a delegate to Congress.

I must admit. I have replayed that portion of the Chief's statement several times. “Millions of Cherokee Citizens.” I like the sound of it.

Chief Hoskin Jr is not only speaking for the 440,000 citizens of the federally recognized Cherokee Nation Oklahoma, but millions of other Cherokee, who are citizens of the United States. Presumably, he’s speaking for the Keetowah Band, the Eastern Band Cherokee of North Carolina, and millions of other Cherokee Indians who are not on the rolls of any of these other Cherokee government entities. 

Who are all these millions of Cherokee Indians? Chief Hoskin Jr. states quite clearly that all of them have waited since 1835 for the seating of the Cherokee delegate. That’s a bold claim.

Ms. Kim Teehee, the Cherokee Delegate, has already been elected by the voters of the Cherokee Nation Oklahoma. Delegate Teehee was elected in 2019 and has waited since then for the House of Representatives to vote her into their body.  She will be the first delegate representing an Indian Nation in the US Congress, when the House of Representatives votes to seat her. 

As a non-voting delegate, much like the delegates from US territories like the District of Columbia, Guam and American Samoa, Delegate Teehee will be able to introduce legislation, and sit on committees and their hearings. She will be able to grab a cup of overpriced coffee with the other Representatives and make small talk with them before discussing the pressing issues. She just won’t be able to take part in the final vote that makes bills into laws.

Delegate Teehee can still take phone calls and address concerns for her fellow citizens in Cherokee Nation.  Ideally, she can aid her constituents not just as citizens, but as Cherokee citizens.

What about all the millions of other Cherokee citizens who are not part of the Cherokee Nation Oklahoma? Will Delegate Teehee take their phone calls, and see that their concerns are aired before Congress? As you can see in the video of the hearing, Ms. Teehee is sitting behind Chief Hoskin as he testifies.  Surely, she heard him say “millions of Cherokee citizens” as he advocated for her to be seated in Congress. I suspect she had read his remarks beforehand and may have had a hand in drafting them.  

I would not have even seen the video of this hearing if not for a YouTube video by Phoenix Moon of the Urban Indian Heritage Society. Ms. Moon, is a professional genealogist who not only pays attention to historical records, but also to Indian treaties and Congressional hearings regarding Indians. 


“Federal Recognition of the Lumbee of North Carolina and MoWa Choctaw of Alabama”, posted on Phoenix Moon Channel, YouTube, December 2022.

Federal Recognition of the Lumbee of North Carolina and the MoWa Choctaw of Alabama

“Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. Testifies At House Rules Hearing About Seating A Cherokee Nation Delegate,” on @Forbes Breaking News channel, YouTube.