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Abramoff Scandal
Open letter from disenrolled Coushatta woman

My name is Cara Rash. I am a former member of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana. As of this moment my family and I are under appeals with the tribal court to resolve a disenrollment issue that should have never come up.

Approximately 32 tribal members have been disenrolled, and many more are to follow. My family has had to prove to the Coushatta enrollment department our blood line twice already. In 1986 my mother put me on the tribal roll with my blood quantum at 1/4, and hers at 1/2. We remained at a half and a quarter until 1995.

Our casino opened in 1995, so we were supposed to all go and re-enroll. My mother never changed her paper work, she submitted the same documentation, along with mine and my sister's, that she did in 1986. We received a rejection letter stating we no longer met the blood quantum. Mind you, to been enrolled with the Coushattas you only have to be 1/4.

At the time our tribe had Florine Pitre as enrollment director. She went into files and changed information to lower not just my mother's blood quantum to keep her children out, but many more people as well. My mother wrote the council, the enrollment director, and the secretary of interior to let them that she was at 3/8 when she should have been at 1/2. No one replied.

In 1995 when Florine was fired, my sisters and I were put back on the roll. I was given my old roll number back and there we remained until March 31, 2006. Florine is back in office as enrollment officer. Members of the tribal council will not return phone calls, they will not show up at their offices and they have all the fax machines turned off.

Kevin Sickey, the current chairman, promised during his campaign to get to know his people. To increase the per capita, however, he left out a very important factor. We did not know at the time that in order for him to increase the per capita he was going to remove his own people from the rolls. And it is the same people that have fought and fought to be recognized by their own family.

In my family's case, my grandfather, who is full blooded Coushatta, has been removed from tribal roll, yet his son, who is 1/2, remains on as a Coushatta. Our enrollment officer was not put in her position by the tribe -- our council did. And the council hides behind greed and lies. Our opinions lay on this as our last council was voted out by the people after we learned about the $32 million given to Jack Abramoff.

I am telling my story to anyone that will listen. Native Americans have faced forms of genocide for countless years, and now sadly it is by our own people. Thank you for your time.

Cara Rash
Coushatta Tribal Member #561

Relevant Links:
Coushatta Tribe -

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