Cherokee Citizen Keith Harper is an Inspiration for our Next Seven Generations

Keith Harper, President Obama's nominee to become  United States Ambassador to the United Nation Human Rights Council.

Keith Harper, President Obama’s nominee to become United States Ambassador to the United Nation Human Rights Council.

Guest Commentary

Our mission statement declares, “The Cherokee Nation is committed to protecting our inherent sovereignty, preserving and promoting Cherokee culture, language, and values, and improving the quality of life for the next seven generations of Cherokee citizens.” Standing on the shoulders of generations of great Cherokee leaders who have come before him, Keith Harper is an inspiration to the next seven generations of Cherokee citizens and all of Indian country.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker

Early this week, the United States Senate will vote on his nomination to be the United States Ambassador to the United Nation Human Rights Council, and I call on the Senate to overwhelmingly confirm him to this important position. Without doubt, Keith Harper will serve in this role with integrity, fairness and compassion. I know his values, experience and tribal heritage give him a unique perspective, and he has proven to be a champion for justice throughout his impressive career.

With more than 305,000 tribal citizens, the Cherokee Nation is the largest tribe in the United States. We take great pride in the accomplishments of our people and the impact they have made in and beyond the Cherokee Nation. Among that long list of accomplished Cherokees are  humorist Will Rogers, former Congressman and U.S. Army Under Secretary Brad Carson, Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford, Medal of Honor recipient Jack Montgomery, business leader Bud Adams, Rear Admiral Joseph J. Clark and former Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller. The list could go on.

Cherokee citizens have achieved great things in service to their tribal nation and their country. Our commitment to the protection of this nation means we have served in every war the United States has ever entered and our people have served in every branch of the armed services. However, no Cherokee citizen has held the honor of serving his or her country abroad as an ambassador. Keith Harper is highly qualified for this position, and there will be many future leaders from across Indian Country who will look to him as an example of success at the highest level and stand on his shoulders.

The United Nations Human Rights Council is preparing to take up several issues of great importance to the United States and Indian country at its upcoming sessions. Gender equality issues and ensuring the protection of women and girls from violence and trafficking will soon be addressed, as will the ongoing human rights crises in Africa and the Middle East. Also, in September of this year, the United Nations will convene the first ever World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

Keith Harper’s lengthy experience as an outstanding lawyer, a tribal court judge and an experienced advocate for the civil and human rights of indigenous people here and around the world make him the ideal nominee for this important position. This is why he has such a wide base of support for his confirmation, with over 120 tribal nations joining more than 20 civil rights, human rights, and Jewish and women’s organizations in voicing their strong support for Harper’s swift confirmation.

President Obama has demonstrated that Indian Country is important to his agenda, and I am deeply thankful. He vowed to place more tribal citizens within his administration in staff roles, and he has fulfilled that promise. Now, he has nominated a Cherokee Nation citizen to this crucial position. As the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, I call on the United States Senate to confirm our son as Ambassador Keith Harper.


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