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Garza, the bolo-wearing former chairman of the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, has fond memories of his session with Bush, which he said was held in 2001 in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House. According to e-mails in the hands of investigators, the meeting was arranged with the help of Abramoff and Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. In an April 18, 2001, e-mail to Abramoff, Norquist wrote that he would be "honored" if Abramoff "could come to the White House meeting."
Garza--known in his native Kickapoo language as Makateonenodua, or black buffalo--is under federal indictment for allegedly embezzling more than $300,000 from his tribe. Through his spokesman, Garza said that during the session, Bush talked about policy matters and thanked those present for supporting his agenda, then took questions from the audience of about two dozen people. Garza told TIME, "We were very happy that Jack Abramoff helped us to be with the President. Bush was in a very good mood--very upbeat and positive." No evidence has emerged that the Bush Administration has done anything for the Kickapoo at Abramoff's behest.
Three attendees who spoke to TIME recall that Abramoff was present, and three of them say that's where the picture of Bush, Abramoff and the former Kickapoo chairman was taken. The White House has a different description of the event Garza attended. "The President stopped by a meeting with 21 state legislators and two tribal leaders," spokeswoman Erin Healy said. "Available records show that Mr. Abramoff was not in attendance."