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Fire Thunder impeached


The Chairwoman of the Oglala Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation was impeached on June 29th and removed from office by the tribal council. She had proposed building an abortion clinic on the reservation in defiance of a recent South Dakota state ban on abortions-- one of the most comprehensive in the country. Tribal lands are not subject to State Laws as they are considered to be "Dependent Domestic Nations" under Constitutional Law and as such are subject only to Federal jurisdiction. A fact, that has often rankled State's rights activists. Her proposal was greeted with cheers from abortion rights supporters, the only positive news out of South Dakota in recent months.

I suppose it comes as a shock to me to hear that the tribal council would take such a step. Councilman Garfield Steele was quoted as saying, "In the past everything was about the children. I can't tell you [women] what to do with your bodies, but when you are pregnant the person inside you doesn't belong to you. Women with a baby inside don't have a choice." Another councilman, Will Peters, co-signer with Steele on the complaints that led to impeachment of Fire Thunder, is quoted in the Washington Post as saying that under Lakota values, abortion is wrong and life is sacred.

Women don't have a choice? Lakota values say abortion is wrong? Granted, I am Nakota from across the Missouri River, but after a lot of research through my great-aunt Ella Deloria's interviews with Lakota and Nakota elders in the early 1900's, I'd have to say those statements are, from a cultural perspective not true. Women had choices. Today, they do not.
Jacqueline Keeler
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