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Ambassador Harper heads to United Nations for next session

Keith Harper, Cherokee Nation citizen and nominee for U.S. Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Indian Country's newest ambassador is hitting the ground running.

Cherokee Nation citizen Keith Harper has been sworn in as U.S. Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Now he's preparing to participate in his first official meeting at the United Nations.

Harper is the first member of a federally-recognized tribe to serve in an ambassador-level post. He is leaving for Geneva, Switzerland, tomorrow to participate in the 26th regular session of the Human Rights Council next week.

The Human Rights Council addresses human rights issues around the world. Prior U.S. representatives have included Eleanor Roosevelt and Geraldine Ferraro, according to Wikipedia.

"As the first tribal citizen to serve as an ambassador, Keith has broken the barrier for all those who will follow him," Cherokee Nation Chief Bill John Baker said in a statement. "As President Obama’s choice to serve in this critical role on the UN’s Human Rights Council, I know Keith will do so with integrity and compassion for Indigenous people worldwide.

"His confirmation is especially meaningful for Indian Country, because the United Nation’s World Conference on Indigenous Peoples will be later this year and he will have an important role in protecting the rights of Native people," Baker added. "He will be a staunch advocate and champion for all Indigenous people."

The Senate voted 52-42 on Tuesday to confirm Harper to the post.

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