American Indian activist Russell Means has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to stop the Oglala Sioux Tribe from swearing in the woman who beat him for the tribal presidency.
Means contends Cecelia Fire Thunder should never have been a candidate because she doesn’t live within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, as is required.
Fire Thunder, a nurse who beat Means in the Nov. 2 election, lives in Bennett County, which shares its north and west borders with Pine Ridge. She said last month she considers the county within the boundaries of the reservation.
Neither Means nor Fire Thunder could be reached for comment Thursday.
Means’ suit seeks to block Fire Thunder’s swearing-in on Dec. 11 and require the tribe’s Court of Election Appeals to hear his complaint.
The reservation in southwestern South Dakota is regularly listed among the poorest places in the nation.
Means’ campaign was his third run at tribal president. He started an acting career after his involvement in the American Indian Movement’s confrontations with the U.S. government in the 1970s and remains outspoken on Indian rights.
Means grew up on the Pine Ridge reservation and maintains a ranch there.