Dec 14, 2021 - Axios on HBO

Cherokee leader wants Andrew Jackson taken off the $20 bill

The head of the Cherokee Nation believes Andrew Jackson's portrait should be stripped from the $20 bill and replaced by the late tribal leader Wilma Mankiller — justice, he says, for the former president's transgressions against Native Americans.

Driving the news: "We have a history and there are dark chapters, and we shouldn't forget them, but we have a bright future," Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said during an interview for "Axios on HBO." "Part of that bright future is to reach back into our history, secure our rights, take them forward."

  • The 1835 Treaty of New Echota — signed by Jackson and ratified by the Senate — forced the Cherokee Nation to move from ancestral homelands in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee to present-day Oklahoma.
  • Along the way, about a quarter of its population died along the so-called "Trail of Tears."

Why it matters: There's long been talk about finding a prominent woman besides suffragette Susan B. Anthony to feature on U.S. currency, and the Obama administration supported replacing Jackson with the portrait of abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

The same treaty Jackson signed called for appointing a non-voting House delegate to represent Native Americans. That effort also has been stalled for the past 180 years.

Kim Teehee, who's been picked to serve as that delegate, would represent the Cherokee Nation, but understands more than 500 tribes could want her to press for their issues. She sees merit in discussing returning the Black Hills — which include Mount Rushmore — to the Oglala Lakota.

  • "I think there's still some discussions that need to take place," Teehee said. "They feel that there was a great injustice and that they deserve their land back, and they are right to feel that way. I don't think anybody else can stand in their shoes and tell them that that's not the case."
  • "I am absolutely sympathetic to the history of the great Sioux Nation, but I would want to work with them directly."

Go deeper: Cherokee Nation wants its congressional delegate

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