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  • Lani Hansen

UKB names holland u.s. house delegate

Tribal member Victoria "Tori" Holland strives to represent the Cherokee people as the congressional delegate.


TAHLEQUAH – It’s been 237 years since the Treaty of Hopewell was signed by the Cherokee people with the United States government promising the Cherokee a delegate seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The positioned guaranteed in that treaty, and reaffirmed in the 1835 Treaty of Hopewell, grants the historic Cherokee Nation a non-voting delegate seat. As a successor-in-interest to both treaties, the United Keetoowah Band has put forward an accomplished tribal lawyer and UKB member, Victoria “Tori” Holland.

Born and raised in Tahlequah, Holland grew up in the heart of the Oklahoma Cherokee Reservation. While attending Northeastern State University she began working for the UKB. It was there she discovered her passion for helping tribes. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, she began working for the UKB full time in various departments.

While employed with the UKB, the UKB was fighting to maintain a significant revenue source – its casino – which was entwined in a legal dispute. This legal battle is what inspired Holland to go to law school so she could help not only her tribe, but other tribes similarly situated. She graduated from the University College of Law with her juris doctorate and certifications in Native American law and peacemaking.

Upon graduation and passing the bar exam, she began working at Devol and Associates. In her time with the firm, she has worked on all things tribal. Through the firm, Holland 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. Holland understands the needs of the UKB, and she understands the wide variety and nuance that are the tribes within the borders of the United States.

Since the UKB’s appointment of Holland several years ago, the tribe has been advocating to the House of Representatives to seat her. But not without facing a challenging road. The UKB has proposed a delegate to Congress, so has the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma – both with equal claim to a delegate seat.

All three present-day tribes of the Cherokee people share the same treaty and have equal right to a Congressional delegate. The UKB is asking Congress to respect the original treaty from 1785 and treat all three tribes of the Cherokee people the same, as siblings.

The tribe advocates that if Congress seats the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma’s proposed delegate, it must also seat the UKB’s proposed delegate. If it doesn’t seat the UKB’s delegate, it shouldn’t seat anyone.

“The UKB is a successor-in-interest to all the Cherokee tribes, just like the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the Eastern Band of Cherokee,” said Holland, who the UKB has named as its Congressional delegate. “Therefore, any treaty promise made to the Cherokee people should be given equally to all Cherokee tribes. Therefore, if Congress seats one delegate, it should seat all Cherokee delegates.”

This many years later, it’s time for Congress to finally keep its promise, to the whole Cherokee people, made more than 200 years ago, tribal officials said. They added that the tribe asks Congress to do it the right way, to do it fairly, by seating the whole of the Cherokee’s delegates, or not to seat anyone.

Officials said there is interest on Capitol Hill to advance the debate, and the tribe is engaged on several levels to ensure that members of Congress in Washington, D.C., hear the voice of the UKB people. Officials added that they want Congress to understand that if the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma’s proposed delegate is seated, so must Holland be seated. It’s time for Congress to keep its promise, they said.

Tori was recently featured on Fayetteville's NPR, if you'd like to listen to what she spoke about please click the following link:



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