Skip to main content

A 200-year-old promise

Kim Teehee joins our newscast to discuss the possibility of a 200-year treaty right to seat a Cherokee delegate in Washington, D.C. Plus deputy managing editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye joins to give us more depth about inauguration day.
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

In 2019, Kim Teehee was named the Cherokee Nation's congressional delegate in Oklahoma's first delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. 

After a promise made almost 200 years ago from the 1835 treaty of New Echota, the treaty promised the tribal nation could appoint a delegate to the House after being forced off their land. She previously served for former President Barack Obama as the first ever policy advisor for Native American affairs in the White House domestic policy council for three years. She was also the director of government relations for the Cherokee Nation and senior vice president of government relations for Cherokee Nation businesses. 

Indian Country Today had a front row seat to history yesterday for the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Our deputy managing editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye joins the newscast today. She spent the day recording history in the media reviewing stand in Lafayette Park, which is behind the White House.

A slice of our Indigenous world

We'll tell you where the nation’s first all-female Native American color guard showed up during the inauguration. And more on how tribal leaders have come together in a letter to President Biden. 

Plus how the new administration will address inequity in access to vaccines, equipment, and other tools for tribal nations. Also it's all hands on deck to assist with efforts for coronavirus testing on tribal lands. 

And we'll tell you who became the first person to be inoculated in the Amazon's massive vaccine campaign. 

You'll find more details on all of these stories at the top of today's newscast.

Quotes from today's show

Kim Teehee:

"Last March was our last visit to D.C. We are still on travel restriction because of COVID and we had wonderful discussions, no opposition but COVID struck. And as we know all of Indian Country had to quickly pivot to addressing the great needs of their communities and their citizens. And so we like everybody else hustled in and started working with Congress. And then obviously the election." 

"So where things stand now is we are presently revisiting those conversations that we had. And like everybody else ,waiting for our new Interior secretary to be confirmed by the Senate so that the administration can express its views, which we believe will be a supportive view so that speaker Pelosi can take the action necessary to seek Cherokee Nation's delegate and fulfillment of that treaty right."

"I would love that. You look at other countries like New Zealand, where you have legal documents that are in a Native language. Not every tribal language has been preserved or has a syllabary. We're fortunate that we do that. We had a newspaper before statehood, before forced removal that was printed in Cherokee and English. And so we are quite aggressive with our language immersion programs and also with our education of adults too, and also bringing elders into that system."

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye:

"This was a very unusual inauguration. I was hearing multiple reports about even people here who are from D.C. and who've covered previous inaugurations that were saying, this was definitely a unique one. I did speak to an Al-Jazeera reporter a couple of days ago, and he is a life-long D.C. resident born and raised here. And he works here as well. He covered the 2008 Obama administration or inauguration."

"And even he was saying that typically we only get two days of traffic and two days of real closers, but this time there was a week’s worth and you had to navigate a whole maze around the city, bridges were closed. And then also the security perimeter was much more extensive and strict. Typically it's a pretty tight security, the perimeters really small, but this year it was very wide and spread and it's such a hassle getting from the south side or the national mall to the north side, because you have to go all the way around and even he was just struck by it."

"Just because it was the insurrection of the U.S. Capitol a couple of weeks ago. But going into the Metro I had to walk a mile from the White house. And even when I arrived at the Metro station, there were more than 20 officers and troops there walking around and keeping an eye on people who were wandering the streets. You had to go through, at least for the media, we had to go through a couple of checkpoints."

Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix. 

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, is the deputy managing editor for Indian Country Today based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter: @jourdanbb or email her at Bennett-Begaye’s Grey’s Anatomy obsession started while attending the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Indian Country Today is a nonprofit news organization. Will you support our work? All of our content is free. There are no subscriptions or costs. And we have hired more Native journalists in the past year than any news organization ─ and with your help we will continue to grow and create career paths for our people. Support Indian Country Today for as little as $10.