Tori: UKB’s Congressional Delegate
Born and raised in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Victoria “Tori” Holland grew up in the heart of the Oklahoma Cherokee Reservation. While attending Northeastern State University she began working for her tribe, the United Keetoowah Band. It was there that she discovered her passion for helping tribes. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Law with her J.D. and certifications in Native American Law and Peacemaking. Upon graduation and passing the bar exam, she began working at Devol and Associates as an associate. In her time with the firm, she has worked on all things tribal. Through the firm, Tori has served as a deputy attorney general for several tribes in Oklahoma, regularly reviews gaming contracts, gaming regulations, drafts tribal codes, represents tribes in contract negotiations, and provides as general counsel. Tori was the first prosecutor for the Comanche Nation when they began their tribal court in 2018 and is a prosecutor for other tribes where she seeks justice for native communities. She has also been classified as an expert witness in federal prosecution for cross deputization matters. Tori has a passion for Indian law and helping tribes exercise their sovereignty.
“…they shall have the right to send a deputy of their choice, whenever they think fit, to Congress.”
- The 1785 Treaty of Hopewell
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 1835 Treaty of New Echota
The UKB’s Right to a Congressional Delegate
In 1785, the Treaty of Hopewell was signed by the Cherokee people, ensuring the Cherokee a Congressional delegate. It was reinforced in the 1835 Treaty of New Echota. Since that time, however, the Cherokee have become three separate tribes. The UKB has proposed a delegate to Congress, so has the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma – both with equal claim to a delegate seat.
Respect the original treaty from 1785, and treat all three tribes of the Cherokee people the same, as siblings.
If you seat the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma’s delegate, you must also seat the UKB’s delegate. If you don’t seat the UKB’s delegate, don’t seat anyone.
It’s time for Congress to finally keep its promise to the whole Cherokee people, made almost 200 years ago. But don’t rush it now; do it the right way, do it fairly.
Representation was promised back in 1785 and again in 1835. It’s time to deliver on that promise.
All three present-day tribes of the Cherokee people share the same treaty and have equal right to a Congressional delegate.
What justifies the UKB's delegate to Congress?
The 1785 and 1835 treaties, signed by both the United States and the former Cherokee people, ensures the Cherokee people a Congressional delegate. In the nearly 200 years since the treaty was signed, the historic Cherokee Nation split into three distinct branches. All three branches, including the UKB, need to be considered when selecting and seating this Congressional delegate. So the UKB’s proposed delegate must have the same opportunity as the current Cherokee Nation’s delegate, and the same should be true of anyone the third branch of the historic Cherokee Nation might propose.
So is Kim Teehee and the Cherokee Nation incorrect in their understanding that they get a delegate seat in Congress?
Kim Teehee and the Cherokee Nation are not incorrect in that today’s Cherokee tribes are entitled to a long-promised Congressional delegate. But assuming that the delegate would be chosen only from today’s Cherokee Nation, and not from all three branches of the tribe that signed the treaty in 1785 and 1835, is where they’re incorrect. The 1785 and 1835 treaties must be respected; all three current Cherokee branches must be offered a delegate seat to Congress.
We’ve all had almost 200 years to get this done and there is still no Cherokee seated as a Congressional delegate in the United States. So, it’s long overdue. But with the present-day Cherokee Nation attempting to have a delegate seated, we need to respect the original treaty and treat all three branches of what once was the Cherokee Nation equally.