South Dakota Indian Tribe President Fired Over Abortion Business Reinstated

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 18, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Indian Tribe President Fired Over Abortion Business Reinstated

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 18, 2006

Pine Ridge, SD ( — An Oglala Sioux tribal judge has reinstated the president of the tribe’s council who was impeached last month after she generated national controversy by attempting to build an abortion facility on the Indian reservation. Council member’s said they fired Cecilia Fire Thunder because she solicited donations for the abortion center without prior approval.

After the vote, Fire Thunder filed for an injunction in tribal court. She claimed the council didn’t follow proper procedures when it removed her from office.

The council voted 9-5 to impeach Fire Thunder who, after the vote, said the impeachment had to do with more than just abortion and announced plans to challenge it.

On the same day, the council voted unanimously to prohibit abortions on the Oglala Sioux reservation.

Fire Thunder came under strong criticism from members of the Indian tribe when she proposed building an abortion business on the reservation after the state legislature approved a statewide ban on most abortions. 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.

The impeachment vote came after a day of testimony on both sides and a two hour private meeting of members of the council. This was the third attempt to impeach Fire Thunder, as she upset council members on other issues previously.

Tribal councilman Will Peters filed the impeachment complaint. Peters said “massive national attention" led to Fire Thunder’s suspension last month in advance of the impeachment vote.

“Abortion is what got this ball rolling," he told the Rapid City Journal newspaper at the time.

"The bottom line is the Lakota people were adamantly opposed to abortion on our homelands. The president was involved in unauthorized political actions," Peters said.

Tribal vice chairman Alex White Plume was slated to serve as the tribe’s president until elections in November.

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.

”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.

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 Indian Country Today 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.

A group of tribal women are continuing Fire Thunder’s efforts to open the Sacred Choices Wellness Center. The facility will not promote family planning instead of operating as an abortion center.

TAKE ACTION: Voice your thoughts on the impeachment to: Oglala Sioux Tribe, 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 –