South Dakota Indian Reservation President Speaks to Media Again on Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 26, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Indian Reservation President Speaks to Media Again on Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 26, 2006

Pine Ridge, SD ( — Cecelia Fire Thunder, the woman who has been suspended as the president of the Oglala Sioux Nation for soliciting donations to build an abortion business there, has again violated the tribal council’s request that she not speak to the media. Fire Thunder continues to talk about abortion to the media even though she may be impeached.

”I got really angry about a bunch of white guys in the state Legislature making decisions about my body, again,” Fire Thunder said of the state legislature’s approving an abortion ban earlier this year that prohibits virtually all abortions.

The embattled council president gave a recent interview to Indian Country Today and told the publication that an abortion business on the reservation would help curb a high rate of sexual assault there.

”The abortion issue,” she claimed, ”is the key that opens the padlock to sexual deviancy that is occurring on the Pine Ridge reservation.”

Fire Thunder is referring to incidents of rape and incest on the reservation. She says as many as 87 percent of the women who are participating in the reservations drug and alcohol rehab programs say they were victims of sexual abuse.

As a result Fire Thunder is unhappy that the state’s recent abortion ban does not include exceptions for rape and incest.

”Having sex with a female member of your family was something that we banished for, speaking traditionally,” she told ICT. Despite the cultural traditions punishing men who rape women, Fire Thunder doesn’t like that women who are raped can’t have abortions.

However, abortion in anathema to the Lakota tribe’s traditions and the tribal council, on the same day it suspended Fire Thunder, voted unanimously to ban abortions on the reservation.

Philomine Lakota, a language and culture teacher, told ICT that she knows of no word in the Lakota tribe’s language for an abortion because the values of the Native Americans don’t include taking the life of a baby before birth.

While the debate about Fire Thunder’s position as president continues in advance of a June 30 hearing on her possible impeachment, a group of tribal women are continuing her efforts to open the Sacred Choices Wellness Center. The facility will not promote family planning instead of operating as an abortion center.

Regarding asking Fire Thunder not to talk to the press, tribal councilman Will Peters said “massive national attention" led to Fire Thunder’s suspension and told the Rapid City Journal, “Abortion is what got this ball rolling, and she used the media."

Fire Thunder came under strong criticism from members of the Indian tribe when she proposed building an abortion business on the reservation. The abortion facility would fall under national law in part and abortions would likely be legal there as long as the abortion practitioner was a Native American.

About the impeachment vote, Councilman Garfield Steele said Fire Thunder can defend herself at the hearing. He indicated he would probably vote to impeach her.

Fire Thunder is a longtime abortion advocate and formerly worked at an abortion business in California. She’s on the steering committee of the pro-abortion group hoping to defeat the ban at the polls.

TAKE ACTION: Voice your thoughts on the abortion business to: Oglala Sioux Tribe, ATTN: President Fire Thunder, P. O. Box H, Pine Ridge, SD 57770. You can also call 605-867-6074 or fax a letter to 605-867-6076.

Related web sites:
Oglala Sioux Tribe –