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Harjo: Indians forced to pay price for Abramoff

"[First Indian affairs assistant secretary Forrest] Gerard decries those who want to ''make Indians pay a price'' for the scandal, saying the justice system will take care of wrongdoing and the ''tribes' inherent systems'' are making appropriate changes in leadership.

He is concerned that Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman John McCain will use Indian rights as a trade bead in order to get the Republican nomination for president in 2008. ''He's still not beloved by the crazy religious right Republicans and is showing evidence where he's turning to the right in many areas, including Indian affairs, to try to placate the right,'' Gerard said.

''We're being played off in the broader political context here.''

Instead of using Indians as scapegoats, Gerard says Congress ''can best contribute to Indian affairs today by negating the Bush budget cuts on various Indian programs that are vital to the health, social and economic welfare of many Indian tribes, because not all tribes are rich gaming tribes.''

Even though Congress has lost its will for lobbying reform, it needs to find it to uphold Indian rights."

Get the Story:
Suzan Shown Harjo: Congress loses will for lobbying reform, needs to find it for Indian rights (Indian Country Today 4/27)

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