Keith Michael Harper is an American attorney and diplomat who was the first Native American to ever receive the rank of a U.S. ambassador. He is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and as a lawyer he is known for working on behalf of Native Americans. He was, from June 2014 to January 2017, the U.S. representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Although a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Harper did not grow up in Oklahoma, due to his father being in the military and posted elsewhere. Harper's forebears include David Rowe, an Assistant Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation who was elected as a judge of the Northern Judicial Circuit shortly after the Civil War.

Harper attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he graduated in 1990 with a B.A. in sociology and psychology.[6] He then went to the New York University School of Law, where he graduated with a J.D. in the class of 1994. There he served as an editor on the New York University Journal of International Law and Politics. He was admitted to the New York bar the following year.

Harper was nominated by President Obama for the position of United States Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council on June 10, 2013. Many human rights advocates were unfamiliar with Harper, and as such the pick reflected a long-standing practice of presidents rewarding top supporters with ambassadorships and similar postings. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee considered his nomination in two rounds of confirmation hearings, in September 2013 and February 2014.

A number of Republicans objected to the nomination, either because of his earnings or tactics during the Cobell case or because of his role in Obama campaign fundraising. Senator John McCain of Arizona, who led the arguments against Harper, said, "Mr. Harper is just another example of a campaign bundler wholly ill-suited to serve in the diplomatic post for which he's been nominated." Senator Jon Tester of Montana said, on the other hand, that "As a longtime advocate for the civil rights of Native Americans, Keith will be a great Ambassador for our country." While many Native American groups supported Harper's nomination, some indigenous rights advocates were wary of it, saying that Harper had shown a lack of substantial positions on Indian human rights issues throughout his legal career.

Eventually, Harper was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 3, 2014, nearly a year after his nomination, in a party-line 52–42 vote with Democrats supporting and Republicans opposed. As such he benefited from the "nuclear option" adopted in the Senate the year before, where Senate filibusters could no longer be used against such appointees. Harper thus became the first person from a federally recognized Native American tribe to achieve the rank of U.S. ambassador.

Harper was sworn into his position by June 5, 2014, and immediately flew to Geneva for a Human Rights Council meeting.

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.

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