Billy Frank: Keith Harper nomination historic for Indian Country

The following is an open letter from Billy Frank, Jr. regarding the nomination of Keith Harper to be the United States Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Dear Friends,

It is with great pride that I write this letter in support of my good friend Keith Harper, an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, whom President Barack Obama has nominated to be the United States Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council, with the rank of Ambassador.

if anyone knows a thing or two about protecting human rights in Indian Country, it's me. I was first hauled off the river for exercising my treaty rights at the age of fourteen. I've been tear-gassed, tackled, punched, pushed face-first into the mud, handcuffed and dragged soaking wet to jail in defense of my boost basic of human rights as a Native. I am 82 years old and I have worked and collaborated with a wide variety of people in my life. I cannot think of a better representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council than Keith!

Keith and I have worked closely together on a number of issues facing Frank's Landing Indian Community. Keith represented the Landing when our smoke shop fell under attack by the Nisqually Tribe, when all we were doing was operating like other tribal communities. Keith stepped in and successfully protected the Landing in federal court. Moreover, when the Landing did not have the resources at the time, Keith worked with us by contribution hundreds of hours of work on a pro bono basis. He has proven to me that he is not only an exceptional attorney but he try gets what is important to Native people. More importantly for this position, I know he understand the struggle for basic human rights on the global stage.

Everyone knows about Keith's work on the Cobell trust case of course, but not a lot of people know about all of the other ways he's advocated on behalf of Indian Country. He's helped the Native American Church, tribes with treaty claims, impoverished tribes seeking federal recognition, tribes enforcing water rights and he's worked on protecting tribal natural resources.

Keith has all of the talents to be a very effective Ambassador and he will become the first member of a federally recognized tribe to assume an Ambassadorial position. I can't tell you how proud that makes me and how important a message it sends to our families and children all across Indian Country. This appointment is truly historic!

Thus, it is with great sadness that I learned that questions were raised about Keith's work. I would tell anyone in the Senate considering Keith's nomination that they can trust Keith at his word and that he has always worked for the betterment of all Indian Country.

I was even more saddened by the hit pieces written about Keith by a single report, Rob Capriccioso. First, let me give you some history on what I learned about Rob and his reporting. He used to write a blog called BigHeadDC which was a topic of a Huffington Post piece: www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/11/26/escort-throws-cold-water-_n_74227.html.

Rob is named in that piece as the perpetrator of a fraud. In there he is noted as reporting that Senator Trent Lott had a relationship with a male escort. But as that piece explains, it was simply not true. Rob's report was called "fabricated" and false."

I've also discovered that this is far from Rob's only questionable incident as a reporter. He was also a freelance writer for an online magazine called "Radar" where he reported that the infamous DC Madam had called Sam Donaldson. Radar refused to publish this salacious report because the DC Madam said herself that the one entry on phone records of Sam Donaldson was a wrong number: radaronline.com/exclusives/2008/10/donaldsons-digits-wrong-number-php.

It would appear this report has a long history of writing questionable stories. For some reason, he has decided to target a person who I know has spent his career defending Indian Country.

Again, I strongly support the confirmation of Keith as the United States Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council. I know he will serve his country well and make all of Indian Country proud.

Respectfully yours,

Billy Frank

Related Stories:
Passamaquoddy Tribe: No dispute about Keith Harper's work (10/02)
Keith Harper faces hostile Sen. McCain at hearing for UN job (9/25)
Keith Harper set for confirmation hearing to ambassador post (9/20)
Cherokee Nation Council backs Keith Harper for ambassador (07/17)
In The Loop: Keith Harper's generosity rewarded with top post (07/09)
NCAI hails nomination of Keith Harper to UN ambassador job (6/17)
Leader of Cherokee Nation hails nomination of Keith Harper (6/13)
Keith Harper, Cherokee, nominated for ambassador level job (6/10)

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