Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Indigenous Rights Advocates Question Keith Harper Nomination

The conventional wisdom of many Native American-focused policy officials is that Keith Harper, a Cherokee Nation citizen and a lawyer with Kilpatrick Stockton who helped settle the long-running Cobell lawsuit, should be confirmed by the Senate as a human rights ambassador to the United Nations as quickly as possible.

“Keith Harper—we really need to have [him] at the State Department as we plan for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples,” said Jackie Johnson-Pata, director of the National Congress of American Indians, to a gathering of the United South and Eastern Tribes on February 5 in Arlington, Virginia. Her view is common among Harper’s lobbyist and lawyer friends in Washington, D.C., as well as among tribal leaders who have had positive interactions with him and his firm. Several of these tribal leaders sent letters of support for Harper to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in recent months as the committee twice considered his nomination – first last September, then in February – and approved it both times narrowly along party lines.

There is a counter narrative, too—one that senatorial supporters and detractors of the Indian lawyer may have missed thus far, and one that has implications as to whether Harper should be confirmed by the full Senate: With his nomination now awaiting consideration by the upper chamber, some Native Americans say he should be held accountable for his lack of positions on a number of Indian human rights issues over his long legal career.

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/02/14/indigenous-rights-advocates-question-keith-harper-nomination-153567

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