Native American Reaction to Abramoff
It was thievery, tribal members said, that echoes the historic losses of Native Americans to European settlers.
"Abramoff and his partner are the contemporary faces of the exploitation of native peoples," said David Sickey, a member of the tribal council. "In the 17th and 18th century, native people were exploited for their land. In 2005, they're being exploited for their wealth."
But even more rankling to many Coushattas is the knowledge that Abramoff had, in released e-mails, referred to some of his Native American clients as "monkeys," "troglodytes" and "morons."
"That hit a nerve," Sickey said, frowning and pausing. "That really hit a nerve."
The old tribal council, which entered into the agreements with Abramoff and Scanlon, has been swept from power. Many voters said they were disappointed with the former council members but doubted that they had enriched themselves.
"He cheated us. He deceived us. And he shouldn't get away with it just because he's big in Washington politics," Sylestine said.
"We want justice," Kirk Langley, a tribe member who works at a millwork shop, said during a cigarette break. "And we want our money back."