Nearly 200 years ago the people of the Cherokee Nation were torn from their homelands, in the mid and Southeast U.S. and elsewhere, under the terms of the Treaty of New Echota. Now, the U.S. government is being urged to finally make good on its end of the deal. That is, to allow the Cherokees to have representation in Congress.

On August 29, Kimberly Teehee, was approved by the Cherokee Nation’s council as its delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. PBS says points out:

A Cherokee Nation citizen and former adviser to President Barack Obama, Teehee currently oversees government relations for the tribe and its business arm.

Legal experts say the path to secure a tribal delegate would likely require congressional approval and be similar to those of island territories like Puerto Rico.

If approved by Congress, Teehee would be the first delegate to represent a sovereign Native American government. Though it is unclear exactly what her role would entail, her appointment, if approved, would be historic for granting the Cherokee Nation a long-awaited seat at the table.

NPR adds:

The article outlining the right to a delegate is in the Treaty of New Echota. The 1835 treaty is also the document that led to the Trail of Tears, something that has been top of mind for Teehee. She points out the treaty gave up the Cherokee’s homelands and cost the tribe thousands of lives.

“Literally blood, sweat and tears,” Teehee said. “We can’t ignore that history and what it meant for us to have a provision like that put in place given the devastation that occurred and the deaths that occurred.”