by Steven Ertelt
October 5, 2006
Pine Ridge, SD (LifeNews.com) — The president of the Oglala Sioux tribe who was impeached for fundraising to build an abortion facility there appears to have lost her re-election bid. Cecilia Fire Thunder was replaced as president after the impeachment but ran for re-election to her former post.
According to unofficial results, President Alex White Plume and another former president, John Yellow Bird Steel appear to have been the top two vote-getters in the tribe’s primary election.
The winner heads the council of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and, according to an AP report, Fire Thunder appears to have placed third.
However, Pine Ridge officials report that some of the ballots cast in the race are in dispute and it has called on help from U.S. Census Bureau officials to examine 300 contested votes.
AP reports that the final results are expected on Friday.
Following her impeachment after she cast a national shadow over the reservation with her pursuit of an abortion facility, Fire Thunder filed suit with the Oglala Sioux Tribe Supreme Court in July.
A judge had temporarily reinstated her after the impeachment but vacated her decision shortly thereafter.
"This is about constitutional violations, procedural violations and strengthening our tribal courts," she told the Rapid City Journal newspaper at the time.
Her comments come after tribal Judge Lisa Adams temporarily reinstated her on July 17 but then recused herself from the case and reversed her decision.
Valeria Apple, court administrator for the Oglala Sioux Tribe said a judge and hearing date had not been assigned but would be soon.
Apple told the newspaper that the tribal council’s judiciary committee will appoint a judge in the case from the two judges on the reservation or from one from another 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 and four members of the council were absent for the vote.
Fire Thunder argues removing the president requires the support of 12 members of the council, a two-thirds vote. She indicated the council also failed to file a sworn statement issuing the complaints against her before it held the vote.
She also claims the council violated her First Amendment free speech rights by prohibiting her from discussing the situation with the media.
On the same day as the impeachment vote, 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.
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.
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.
Related web sites:
Oglala Sioux Tribe – https://www.lakotamall.com/oglalasiouxtribe