Read more about the film and the follow-up at PBS.
“South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation is no stranger to strife and heartbreak, stark realities, and inspired idealism. In Young Lakota, we are brought directly into the emotional and often uncertain journey of Sunny Clifford, her twin sister Serena, and their politically ambitious friend Brandon Ferguson, who all share the desire to make a difference for themselves and their community.
Their political awakening begins when Cecelia Fire Thunder — the first female president of the Oglala Lakota — defies a South Dakota law that makes abortion a crime, even in cases of rape or incest. Fire Thunder takes a stand by proposing a women’s health clinic providing abortions on the reservation but open to all local women. While Serena is unwed and with a toddler, and Brandon is raising two little boys, Sunny is just back on the reservation after two years in college. All three find themselves immersed in this political battle as they struggle between opportunity and principle.
Fire Thunder’s bold proposal is seen by some as grandstanding, and the tribe becomes 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. Young Lakota shows the diverging paths they begin to take, and the complex interplay of personal choice, cultural, economic, and political circumstance that defines who they are and what kind of adults they will become.”