Cherokee Nation: Broken treaties and Indigenous sovereignty

The Cherokee Nation has renewed its long-standing demands that the U.S. Congress honor its treaty obligations by seating a nonvoting delegate from the Nation in the House of Representatives.

A drum circle during the Trail of Broken Treaties occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs building by the American Indian Movement, Washington, D.C., November 1972. Credit: Geoffrey Gilber

The right of the Cherokee Nation to have a congressional representative was a key concession in the 1835 Treaty of New Echota. Flunkies of President Andrew Jackson’s administration coerced a minority of the Cherokee leadership into signing the treaty, thus forcing the Nation to surrender its sovereign territory. This gave the sham of “legality” to the genocidal Trail of Tears death march to land in present-day Oklahoma. Over a quarter of the Cherokee population died on the Trail of Tears.

Now, 187 years later, the U.S. settler-colonial government continues to flout even the lopsided terms of the New Echota Treaty by refusing to seat a representative of the Cherokee Nation in Congress. “For two centuries, Congress has failed to honor that promise,” said Chuck Hoskin Jr., Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. “However, the Treaty of New Echota has no expiration date.” (

Although Hoskin and the Council of the Cherokee Nation proposed Kimberly Teehee to serve as representative in 2019, the U.S. Congress has so far declined to recognize her nomination. However, increasing pressure by the Cherokee Nation and Indigenous activists has forced the House Rules Committee to plan hearings on the Cherokee representative for mid-November.

The refusal by Congress to honor its treaty obligations to the Cherokee Nation is not an isolated case. The United States has violated every one of the over 400 treaties it has made with Indigenous nations.

Will Hodgkinson

Published by
Will Hodgkinson

Recent Posts

PFLP calls for international committee to investigate crimes against Palestinian detainees

The following statement on Zionist crimes and horrific violations in the "Sde Teman" camp against…

June 17, 2024

Migrant crisis? Build working-class solidarity!

Regarding his immigration program, President Joe Biden — candidate Joe Biden — is attacking the…

June 17, 2024

Citibank hit for funding genocide

Protesters rallied outside the world headquarters of Citibank in New York City on June 13…

June 17, 2024

On the picket line

Strike by 1,000 union electricians    Limited Energy electricians, members of IBEW Local 46 in the…

June 17, 2024

Personal and political: Two aspects of D-Day, 75 years later

This article was posted first on June 10, 2019, and is still relevant today, following…

June 17, 2024

A Pan-Abolitionist prayer for Leonard Peltier

“The only accounts we owe are to our children, the ancestors and those not yet…

June 14, 2024