In the wake of last week's elections and statements by multiple Republicans that the party intended to seat the Cherokee representative in accordance with the treaty terms as soon as they are sworn into the new majority, a lame duck Democrat controlled Congress finally agreed to take up the issue.
The Treaty of New Echota was ratified by both the Cherokee tribal government and the government of America and guaranteed the Cherokee the right to separate representation in the US House of Representatives, as a tribe, rather than as simply another part of a state.
However the Treaty of New Echota was upended when at least half of the Cherokee Nation entered the Civil War as allies of the Confederate States of America. One of the biggest consequences of that action was the Cherokee lost nearly all of their rights to the lands that had been granted them by the New Echota Treaty.
At the end of the Civil War, the Cherokee who were allied with the Confederates were forced to sign a new treaty giving most of the land they had at the time, abolish slavery, and grant non Cherokee citizenship in the tribe. However the new treaty also reaffirmed the right of the Cherokee to have its own representative in Congress regardless of what state or states the Cherokee found themselves in.
Article 7 of the Treaty of New Echota states the Cherokee Nation "shall be entitled to a delegate in the House of Representatives of the United States whenever Congress shall make provision for the same."
The tribe did not invoke the clause until 2019 after it had been pointed out to them in previous years.
Immigrant members of Congress, however, have objected to allowing the Cherokee to have their own representation in Congress. Some have incorrectly insisted that the Cherokee Nation is not the inheritor of the treaty but that Mexicans are. The false claim goes back to CRT theory which teaches that America is an evil racist empire and that all of the territory of the US was part of Mexican Empire that stretched from the Arctic to Tierra Del Fuego and that all Indigenous peoples in the hemisphere are "all Mexicans".
History shows that most of the tribes of the US have no connection to the tribes of Mexico or other Central American nations and that there are only tenuous connections between tribes of the Southwest and the tribes of Central and Southern Mexico. Genetic studies have long disproven the assertion that Indigenous peoples of the US are the same people as the Indigenous peoples of Mexico.
Other tribes that also have treaty rights to representation in Congress include the Choctaw and the Delaware which are both Indigenous to the US.
However the issue of which Cherokee group to recognize as inheritor of the treaty rights has been a stumbling block as nearly all of the different Cherokee groups claim they are the one who inherited the right. The US Congress will need to decide which group they are going to give the right to or whether they will rotate it among the different groups of Cherokee or require the different groups to share the representation.
The Cherokee representative would have the same role and duties as representatives for the nation's territories. They will be able to submit amendments to laws and bills but would not be able to vote on final passage, according to a Democrat official. The limitation however would violate the terms of The Treaty of New Echota which was intended to give the Cherokee full voting representation.
A spokesperson for the incoming Republican majority said the Cherokee representative would have the same rights, privileges, and obligations as all other representatives when his party takes over but they still had to consider how to go about it.