The Senate confirmed Keith Harper as ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council Tuesday, making him the first Native American to ever become a U.S. ambassador.

 Harper is an attorney who was one of the lawyers behind a landmark class action lawsuit brought by Native Americans against the federal government. President Barack Obama first nominated him in June 2013.

“I’m pleased that my colleagues have voted to appoint another historic first for Indian Country,” said Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) in a statement. “As a longtime advocate for the civil rights of Native Americans, Keith will be a great Ambassador for our country.”

A member of the Cherokee Nation, Harper helped represent around 500,000 Native Americans who brought a class-action suit — Cobell v. Salazar — against the United States in the 1990s over alleged federal mismanagement of revenue from mines and oil wells owned by Native Americans.

Harper’s confirmation was approved by a party-line vote of 52-42 and was hailed by Native American groups as a positive step forward.

“Keith’s confirmation is of great accomplishment for all of Indian Country,” said Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly in a statement.

One group, the National Congress of American Indians, also called for more nominees to federal posts in the wake of Harper’s confirmation.

“Indian Country is full of qualified, talented people who are able and willing to serve,” the group said in a statement. “We eagerly anticipate many more nominations of Native people to important offices.”

Responses to "Senate Confirms First Native American Ambassador"

  1. Ken says:

    Congratulations, Mr Ambassador. :-)

  2. Unknown says:

    Congratulations! This is wonderful news.

  3. Kim Caskey says:

    Congratulations & God's Blessings!!! <3

  4. Unknown says:

    Court HR judgment Mapuches vs Republic of Chile - Official Summary
    13 pages

  5. kirk413 says:


  6. Unknown says:

    We are honored to have you, Mr. Harper, Esq. representing us in the UN!

  7. Unknown says:

    Congratulations, Mr. Harper. Hope to see more First Nation people.

  8. G Couyancy says:

    May your prestigious appointment be a solid foothold to this country and to Native Americans. May you serve in truth, dignity and honor as you represent our people. May you always remain strong in your roots that you will never forget from which you came from....

  9. Wanda S. Vincent says:

    congratulations ambassador Keith Harper. I second what G. Couyancy has said.

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