Tribal Leader Says He Witnessed Aggressive Outbursts by Keith Harper; Others Affirm Support for Human Rights Nominee

Rob Capriccioso

Clara Pratte, executive director of the Navajo Nation’s D.C. office, says the allegations have resulted in “no change” in her support for his nomination. “Having worked with Mr. Harper on many issues. I have full faith and confidence in his professionalism and ethics,” she says. Ben Shelly, president of the Navajo Nation, sent a letter of support for Harper to the Senate before the allegations became public.

Bill John Baker, chairman of the Cherokee Nation, says he continues to support Harper as well. “Cherokee citizen Keith Harper is a legal scholar and attorney who has worked tirelessly on behalf of Native people throughout his career,” he said in a statement. “President Obama nominated him to be an ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Cherokee Nation, along with the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes, has endorsed the Harper nomination to be the first citizen of a federally recognized tribe to serve as a U.S. ambassador.”

Scott Vele, executive director of the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes (MAST), says, “The Mr. Harper we know and support is a respected, intelligent, strong supporter of Indian country and we will not waver in our support for a brilliant Native American being nominated for the human rights position.” Other MAST leaders, however, say their research is ongoing about the situation.

Berrey says the NCAI leadership’s and other Native leaders’ lack of consideration of Harper’s temperament is wrong. “They want him representing indigenous rights. Why?” he asks. “It makes no sense in the reality of what’s transpired over the last 10 to 15 years. The guy does not care about human rights. He attacked a woman; he attacked a tribal leader, so why should we expect him to fight a battle for [us]?”

Carol Good Bear, one of the Native Americans who was harassed as a result of a letter the Cobell legal team sent in 2010 listing her address and phone number after she appealed the Cobell settlement, says it is important for tribes and organizations that have supported Harper’s nomination to consider his disposition.

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Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
This is very troubling to me. The further along this nomination goes along the more alarmed I am becoming about this all. If someone does not exercise control of their tongue & their temperament the less I can support them for a promotion. If these folks are sincere with what they say & they are not jaded about this individual due to personal experiences with him then I would encourage them to go forward & testify with proof against this man. I am not going to say such things do not occur with people, but it becomes more concerning when such an honor is being considered as a promotion & such negativity is adhering more & more to the present nominee. Not everyone is cut out for such honors. Personally, I feel an older individual would be better adapt for this position & honor rather than a young person. The young simply do not have the life experience that this position & honor needs in a candidate. I encourage each & every individual to pray to the Creator & allow Him to point in the direction of someone who is deserving of this honor in representing our many peoples & brethren around Turtle Island. If it is true that this man has a foul mouth & behaves shameful towards others then he most certainly does not deserve such an appointment. A quick tongue followed by lack of self-control is a combination that leads to disgraceful & shameful results over time I find.