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Jodi Rave: Fire Thunder steps into ring of fire

"Cecilia Fire Thunder has a lot of admirers around Indian Country and elsewhere.

But things haven't been going well for Fire Thunder, the first woman president to lead the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.

Before her foray into politics, she'd been a longtime advocate for women, carving her life path as a nurse and grassroots leader. But she decided to leave that circle and step into a ring of fire. In 2004, Fire Thunder ran for president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

Tribal elections can get interesting - it's often hard to escape extended family voting power, vote-buying influence and a usual distribution of scurrilous silent-author newsletters. But Fire Thunder's bid for tribal president was especially intriguing because she and internationally known activist-actor Russell Means emerged as the top vote-getters, beating out then-President John Yellowbird Steele.

Fire Thunder then prevailed over Means - a former American Indian Movement leader who in recent years has challenged tribal sovereignty for his own personal gain - in the final election. Means' ideas were too radical, whereas Fire Thunder succeeded in wooing voters trying to survive day by day."

Get the Story:
First female president of Oglala Sioux faces critics (The Missoulian 7/30)

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