Words of Fire & Thunder...
It's long since time that someone stands up against the wasichu way! My highest repects go out to these brave women. Fierce Warriors...
Fire Thunder, Cook-Lynn Bash Colonization, Christianity During Rally
© Indian Country Today November 07, 2006. All Rights Reserved
Posted: November 07, 2006
by: David Melmer / Indian Country Today
RAPID CITY, S.D. -What may be known as South Dakota's most contentious political issue goes farther than abortion, said two American Indian women leaders.
Two nationally known leaders - Cecelia Fire Thunder, former Oglala Sioux tribal president, and Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, professor, lecturer and writer - came together in a meeting Nov. 3 that could be considered as much an anti-Christian, pro-decolonization lecture as an anti-abortion-ban rally.
The two asked American Indian women to vote on Nov. 7 and take a responsibility in state government while at the same time protecting their right to choose how they live their lives.
Both said the abortion ban has given men the right to control the rights of women, and that in Indian country a movement to discredit women in leadership has take on a life of its own.
The ballot measure, Referred Law 6, which would either sustain the country's most stringent abortion ban or defeat House Bill 1215, has taken center stage in South Dakota's election campaign. The ''abortion ban bill,'' as signed into law, does not allow for an abortion in the event of rape, incest or threat to the health of the mother.
Fire Thunder and Cook-Lynn said American Indian voters have been influenced by the ideology of the Christian right, which they noted has no place in the political arena.
''This is an attack on women's rights that is ongoing; this is a national issue in Indian country.
''If they can tell you you can't have an abortion, they can tell you you must have one,'' Cook-Lynn said, referring to the practice of a few decades ago of sterilizing American Indian women without their permission.
''This is a result of colonization and Christianity; they don't teach reproductive rights,'' she said.
Cook-Lynn said that Fire Thunder was impeached as president by the OST tribal council for publicly stating she would start a clinic on the reservation, which was in response to the state's abortion ban.
''Cecelia had the best idea for women's health care in the past 200 years. She was impeached for it,'' Cook-Lynn said.
Before the two leaders spoke, a group of people who support the abortion ban were positioned outside the room and later carried placards into the press conference.
Two of the protesters were American Indian; the rest were non-Indian, including Elli Schwiesow, a candidate for state Senate who is running against American Indian-preferred candidate Tom Katus in a Rapid City district.
Schwiesow said she ''deeply cared for Indian people'' and was against abortion. She said abortion hurts American Indian people, although she did not know that only eight American Indian women chose to have abortions in the state within the last year.
Signs carried by the protesters said that children were sacred.
Fire Thunder said, ''Women are also sacred.''
Lyman Red Cloud, former Oglala Sioux Tribal Council member and an anti-abortion protester, said he would never vote for Fire Thunder because, he said, ''women are not leaders and women don't belong in leadership roles. Men make decisions.''
Respect for women is a traditional value of the Lakota, Cook-Lynn and Fire Thunder said. ''Rape and incest are not part of our teachings,'' Fire Thunder said.
''Indian women are raped more often than any other group. I asked the Creator if he intended to create an act of violence,'' she said. As a side comment, she told the crowd that she can talk to God also.
''You white people, you came to America to practice religious freedom, to escape religious oppression, but you Christian people are now setting policy,'' Fire Thunder said.
''Christianity has to accept responsibility. We were good people with spirituality and a language. With the two you can't go wrong,'' she said.
Fire Thunder said the Creator gave her the ability to think, therefore she made a decision in her life to not have more children: she didn't ask her husband, God or anyone else if she could make that decision.
''As a citizen of South Dakota, I have a right to protest and speak against [H.B. 1215].
''As an Oglala tribal member, I have the right to speak up for women and I ask all Indian women to vote 'no' on referred law 6. It is time to be part of the state and take charge.
''So when did God send you an e-mail and put you in charge of my life, my morality?'' Fire Thunder said.