Stolen thunder

Sioux leader, who planned to start abortion clinic on Indian land in South Dakota, suspended by tribal council.

Published June 1, 2006 5:32PM (EDT)

Remember the story of Cecilia Fire Thunder? She's the first woman president of the Oglala Sioux tribe of South Dakota, who responded to news that the state would ban abortions with an announcement that she would open up a Planned Parenthood clinic on Indian land.

Now comes word that she's been shut down by her own people. The Associated Press reports that the tribal council has voted to ban all abortions on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. And members suspended her for allegedly seeking funding for an abortion clinic without their approval.

Tribal council representative Will Peters accused her of unauthorized political activity and motioned to suspend her for 20 days until an impeachment hearing. But Fire Thunder called the actions "an ambush" and insists she never solicited donations, according to the AP.

Hang in there, Cecilia! South Dakota needs you. In the meantime, congrats on the news that South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, which you co-chair, has collected more than twice the number of signatures needed to get a referendum on the state's abortion ban this fall.

By Sarah Elizabeth Richards

Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist based in New York. She can be reached at

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