Sovereignty: Tribal Lands and Women's Bodies

April 2, 2006

Whoa–I missed this unexpected twist to the South Dakota abortion ban story.

Cecilia Fire Thunder, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation, says:

“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.”

South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long fights fire with fire:

Essentially, Long explained, only abortions performed by a Native American abortion practitioner would have a chance of staying legal if the abortion ban is upheld in court.

Of course, it wouldn’t matter if the woman having the abortion on tribal land was Native American or not, as she would not be considered a criminal, but a victim.

This show-down calls up some interesting parallels between tribal lands and women’s bodies in the U.S., both of which may be thought of as territories formerly occupied by the white guys in power.