Column: Fire Thunder, strong woman on the plains

"Far from Manhattan, in a corner of South Dakota, Cecelia Fire Thunder is the first woman elected president of the 40,000-member Oglala Sioux tribe.

Regardless of whether state voters overturn a legislative ban on abortions, she says she will open a clinic to teach young women, on and off the rez, about choices.

"We have failed to provide options to these women," she says, many impregnated too young by older men under the influence of drugs or alcohol. "We have been negligent in training them about contraception, because the best solution to abortion is to not get pregnant.

"I made my first choice for my body when I was 22 and decided I wanted no more children," she tells me. She had two sons and an unhappy marriage but was too busy and poor to end it.

"I used an IUD, a Lippes loop," says Fire Thunder, a former nurse, "and it worked. I've been making decisions for my body ever since."

Finally, I ask about her name, which one woman on the Web vowed to give to her firstborn daughter. She laughs with gusto and admits, "Fire Thunder was my ex-husband's name. I liked it, so I kept it."

Another smart, powerful choice."

Get the Story:
SUSAN AGER: Strong women, in the city and on the plains (The Detroit Free Press 4/6)

Relevant Links:
Oglala Sioux Tribe - http://www.lakotamall.com/oglalasiouxtribe

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