200 years ago, the Cherokee Nation was offered a seat in Congress. It just announced its chosen delegate.Breaking News
tags: Congress, Native American history, Cherokee Nation
The Cherokee Nation principal chief had an important announcement to make last week. Standing on a stage in the Cherokee capital, Chuck Hoskin Jr. told his people, and the United States, that he intended to nominate a Cherokee delegate to Congress.
His decision would come as a surprise to some. But to the Cherokee, the announcement was nearly 200 years in the making.
For the Cherokee Nation, the years leading up to and after the signing of the Treaty of New Echota were dark. Living in their ancestral homeland of Georgia, the tribe was facing increased pressure to leave.
While other tribes were being kicked off their land, the Cherokee fought against removal. They even won a sovereignty case in the U.S. Supreme Court. But Georgia was passing laws to delegitimize the Cherokee Nation’s government and ripping its homes away from the Cherokee people.
John Ridge, a member of the Cherokee Nation, traveled to Washington to speak with President Andrew Jackson, explaining that Georgia was violating the court’s decision. But Jackson’s now-famous response to Ridge was that Supreme Court Chief Justice “John Marshall made his decision, let him enforce it.”
“They were just giving our homes away to Georgia citizens and raping our women,” said Mary Kathryn Nagle, a great-great-great granddaughter of John Ridge. “It was a time of great trauma and turmoil. My grandfather saw that and said, ‘We won in their court of law, but their president refuses to enforce it.’ ”
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