Jim Gray: Keith Harper ready to serve in UN human rights post

Jim Gray, a former chief of the Osage Nation, supports the nomination of Keith Harper, a member of the Cherokee Nation, to serve as the United States Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council:
From 2004 to 2006, I was honored to serve as the vice chairman and chairman of the Inter-tribal Monitoring Association of Indian Trust Funds (ITMA) that was funded by the Office of the Special Trustee. ITMA was instrumental in the facilitation of sorting out the myriad of issues associated with the Department of Interior’s trust responsibility to individual Indians and Tribal Nations. During my time at ITMA, whenever we held our meetings, we always extended an invitation to the representatives of the Cobell legal team to give us updates on the status of the case. Typically that was either John Echohawk or Keith Harper.

I have always known Keith to be professional and generous with his briefings. As with any attorney with active litigation, he was very careful with what he said, and everyone understood that many of the tribes who made up ITMA had ongoing litigation in the Court of Federal Claims. I chaired the meeting in ‘05 and attended the meeting in ‘10 that was referenced in the article where the allegation was made. I can say it just didn’t happen. Moreover, I never saw Keith resort to name-calling, or losing his temper, then or now. It’s just not the Keith I know.

Now that doesn’t mean that many in Indian country did not like the Cobell case—they didn’t like the way it took over how Indian issues were treated by the Bush Administration, so much so, it could be fairly argued that Cobell drove Indian policy in those days, meaning it wasn’t a healthy environment for anything good to come from Trust reform. This was made abundantly clear to me in 2005 when NCAI, ITMA and the Cobell legal team traveled across the country to support Sen. John McCain and Sen. Byron Dorgan’s introduction of bi-partisan, bi-cameral legislation to settle Cobell for nearly $8 billion, only to get a veto threat from the Bush Administration.

Get the Story:
Jim Gray: Old wounds Still Plague Keith Harper’s Appointment, but Shouldn’t (Indian Country Today 2/27)

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