In a little known angle to the Abramoff scandal, he funneled half a million dollars of tribal gaming funds to the leader of a Republican front group appointed by Gale Norton, Secretary of Interior for the apparent purpose of stalling an audit that may reveal a shortage of payments to the tune of $176 billion to...you guessed it...indians.
Hand picked by Norton, Italia Federici leads the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA) and gave Abramoff an inside track to the DoI. Seems they were pretty chummy. The attempt (so far successfully) to stall the accounting of the DoI is a tale that makes Erin Brockovich look like a sandbox squabble. In Cobell v. Norton, the largest class action lawsuit in history, pits Elouise Cobell, a Blackfoot banker representing 500,000 indians who claims the DoI has shorted payments to their indian clients by $176 billion. She means to collect.
Opposing her efforts are the DoI, the considerable resources of the Department of Justice and 35 of the countries most expensive law firms. Naturally the indians are concerned that the negative implications of the Abramoff and gaming interest will spill over into making indian causes a bad thing. Mary Beth Williams writes a series of articles on this very complicated but ultimately tragic example of how we continue to fuck Native Americans over. Do yourself a favor and read about it and link to it.