Tribal Sovereignty vs. Christian Patriarchy

The South Dakota abortion ban has a new twist to it. Oglala Sioux Tribal President Cecilia Fire Thunder (a former nurse and healthcare giver) has decided to defy the mostly white and male state government who are deciding the fates of women in South Dakota. Fire Thunder is planning to open a Planned Parenthood on the Pine Ridge Reservation outside the jurisdiction of state law.

“To me, it is now a question of sovereignty, I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction.”Cecilia Fire Thunder

Lynn Harris at Salon.com points out that Native women in South Dakota have long been involved in working to secure full access to women’s health options. Charon Asetoyer, Founder and Executive Director of the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center in South Dakota spoke to Women’s E-News about abortion in indigenous communities and the fight to secure sovereignty within a US government-controlled health system.

“Asetoyer says the biggest challenge is protecting women’s rights and Native American traditions and health practices from outside groups and government organizations. For example, she noted, the word “abortion” is not in any indigenous language, but the practice of terminating a pregnancy to preserve a woman’s health is part of basic medical knowledge and was traditionally a decision left to the woman.”

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Will South Dakota try to challenge the sovereignty of the reservation? Will the federal government step in? For those wanting to contact Cecilia Fire Thunder to donate funds for the clinic or to simply send Cecilia a message of support you can find contact info, here. I’m personally glad that the victims of “simple rape” will soon have an option in South Dakota.