Indigenous Rights Advocates Question Keith Harper Nomination

Rob Capriccioso

The full Senate must still vote on Harper’s nomination for him to be confirmed. Republicans are widely expected to vote down his nomination, especially given McCain’s impassioned arguments against him, along with critiques from Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, who has also been among Harper’s top opponents. Before last fall, Republican displeasure toward Harper might have been enough to sink his bid, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) recently changed the Senate rules to require only a simple majority to approve presidential nominees, as opposed the 60 votes that were previously necessary. That means if 51 Senate Democrats approve of Harper, he will be confirmed.

To date, pleas from tribal citizens to both the Obama administration and to the Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee to reconsider Harper’s nomination have gone unheeded, with many Democrats choosing to highlight the historic nature of his nomination, rather than addressing issues that have been raised about his nomination.

The Democratic support for Harper troubles Craven, who had her name and address published in the infamous Cobell lawyer letter McCain decried at the September hearing. The Sisseton-Wahpeton citizen has told the Foreign Relations Committee that she and her family have been harassed as a result of the letter, and that individuals once associated with Harper who now work at the Department of Energy would not allow her to work on tribal projects any longer, which led to her exit in January from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

It has been frustrating for her to see Democrats, including the president that she donated to when he ran in 2008, push so hard to support a person that she believes is simply not qualified to be a human rights ambassador. While frustrated and currently looking for a job, she still holds out hope that grassroots Natives who may be more affected by human rights violations than powerful Native advocates in D.C. will contact their senators about this nomination.

“I want all members of the Senate – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – to know that these are very real issues being raised about Keith Harper’s character and commitments,” Craven says. “This should not be a partisan battle.”


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hickoryground's picture
Submitted by hickoryground on
Keith Harper and Kilpatrick Stockton are still profiting from the desecration of the Muscogee Creek burials at Hickory Ground. How did that human rights violation get overlooked in this story?

leeanntallbear's picture
Submitted by leeanntallbear on
When I think of the word "advocate" I don't think about Keith Harper. Names that come to mind among the still living, are Clyde Bellecourt, Suzanne Harjo, Sonny Skyhawk, Winona LaDuke, Eddie Benton Banai - people who actually "changed the nature of the debate" as one of my old friends would say. I am sure all of you have other names that come quickly to mind: people who worked for change in their communities and have a record of not perpetuating or exploiting the status quo.

curtj's picture
Submitted by curtj on
Same old Same old. The non Indigenous will groom whoever they want to get ready for a important position, in order to bribe them. You saw in in the lower 48 in the last 3 or so centuries when the illegal alien immigrants wanted resources and lands for free or real cheap, like cheap jewelry. Look to the Indigenous Peoples Forum of the United Nations, that guy in charge was selected by the colonial governments who continue to rob other countries of their resources and lands with the end result of terrorist attacks against them or their chief supporter, America. It is sick and sad that Indigenous people are so easily bribed like the Washington politicians. They work against their own peoples interests for a few pieces of silver, like the white mans judas and jesus. You saw it when the US government used to recruit Apache trackers to help herd Apaches onto reservations and to exile them to other states in order to rip them from their lands. What kind of respect do you give these Quislings who are bribed to value their momentary riches in order to remove the Indigenous people from their resources and lands, resulting in the obscene drug and alcohol addictions with its violence and resulting suicides.

100IndigenousAmerican's picture
Submitted by 100IndigenousAm... on
To advocate Keith Harper as as a human rights ambassador to the United Nations is asinine and twisted thinking that lacks critical thought. Being slightly brown and having some DNA blood content is not qualifications for real defense of the HUMAN RIGHTS of Indigenous Americans throughout the Americas. Especially someone coming out of the ruins of the Cobell settlement where the rightful receiverships received a paltry amount of what was due to them and the Lawyers drove away with truckloads of cash. Lobbyist, lawyers and politicians dealing with "real" Indians from superiority vantage point are of the same material. They will never look at the "keepers of the Mother Earth" as equals. Keith Harper is a bad choice for the indigenous people, and he is a good choice only for the "business model" and not the "creating restructuring politics for the salvation of original Americans" using the patterns of our traditions using global thinking. I speak my mind as Vietnam Vet and as a proud 100% Dine' from Dine' (navaho) bekayah.