Independent Lens: Young Lakota

About This Episode


In a small town in the heart of the Pine Ridge Reservation, Sunny Clifford, her twin sister Serena, and their neighbor, Brandon Ferguson, share a common dream of helping to create a better future for their tribe. When South Dakota passes a law criminalizing abortion, their tribal President, Cecelia Fire Thunder, challenges it with a threat to build a clinic on the reservation, drawing Sunny, Serena, and Brandon into a political storm that changes the course of each of their lives.

But Fire Thunder's bold proposal is seen by some as grandstanding, and the tribe is divided over both the abortion issue and Fire Thunder herself. Ultimately, Fire Thunder is impeached by her political enemies inside the tribal government (perhaps with the help of the South Dakota political right), an act that sets off a chain reaction in the lives of Sunny, Serena, and Brandon. A tumultuous tribal election to replace Fire Thunder and a state vote that defeats of the abortion ban, open a political rift between the friends, and help determine the adults they will become.