A Native American tribal leader accused President Obama’s nominee for a United Nations human rights ambassadorship of angrily confronting a female lawyer and having to be restrained.
Lawyer and Cherokee Nation member Keith Harper, who was nominated by Obama in June to be ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council, has faced criticism from members of the Native American community for not taking a stance on various Indian issues. But another more bizarre allegation has risen to the surface.
Indian affairs lawyer Majel Russell told Indian Country Today Media Network that “He [Harper] confronted me in a hallway and threatened to tell a tribe that I had not represented them well in a previous trust settlement.”
Russell detailed two instances, in 2005 and 2010, of Harper angrily confronting her outside of meetings.
Qupaw tribe chairman John Berrey, an executive committee member of the National Congress of American Indians, confirmed Russell’s account.
“Keith sure postured like he was going to hit her, cussing the whole time,” Berrey said.
Two eyewitnesses also told the publication details about the standoff.
“He [Harper] flipped out. He was physically threatening Majel. It was scary. His body language was in her face; he was yelling in her face, calling her a bitch,” said one witness.
“He was yelling at her and cussing at her — it wasn’t like two people were standing arguing. People thought he was going to hit her. He was very, very angry and got right up in her face,” said another witness.
Former Osage Nation chief Jim Gray defended Harper, though Gray admitted that he was not present at the site of one of the alleged fights.
“I’ve never seen Keith lose his cool, ever,” Gray said. “I wasn’t outside [the first meeting]. But I didn’t see anything happen during those meetings.”
“Our relationship has always been professional — we don’t go out to eat, we don’t exchange Christmas cards,” Gray said, regarding possible conflict-of-interest with his Harper support.