Her political awakening begins when the tribe’s first female president, Cecelia Fire Thunder, defies a South Dakota law banning abortion by threatening to build a women’s clinic on the reservation. Embroiled in a controversial political season that hinges on reproductive rights and tribal sovereignty, Sunny, her twin sister Serena, and their neighbor Brandon are drawn into a political firestorm that changes the course of their lives. Directed and produced by Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt, Young Lakota premieres during Native American Heritage Month on Independent Lens on Monday, November 25, 2013 at 9pm.
Sunny Clifford, just back on the reservation after two years away at college, works as a clerk at the Kyle grocery store, living with her twin sister, Serena. The twins — who have both dropped out of college — dream of finding a way to help make things better on the reservation, but they don’t really know where to start. Their idealism is shared by Brandon Ferguson, who — like Serena — has young children. All three look up to Cecelia Fire Thunder, the first female president of their tribe, who challenges a South Dakota law criminalizing abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The tribe is soon drawn into the divisive world of “abortion politics,” and Fire Thunder is impeached, setting 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 the abortion ban opens a political rift between the friends. Ultimately it is the complex interplay of personal choice, cultural, economic and political circumstance that will define who they are and what kind of adults they will become.
Visit the Young Lakota companion website, which features information about the film, including an interview with the filmmaker and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film and more.