The Tillie Black Bear Women Are Sacred Day, October 1, 2018

“Looking back over three decades, having spent most of my life as a woman in our resistance movement, I am so proud of our women who went beyond the shelter doors. I am so proud of our movement for safety and sovereignty. As tribal women, as indigenous women, we are helping to create a safer, more humane world.”—Tillie Black Bear (1946-2014)

Tillie Black Bear (Sicangu Lakota), Wa Wokiye Win (Woman Who Helps Everyone), gave hope and healing to generations of Native Americans and aspiring allies by participating in the initial organizing of the Violence Against Women Movement on a national level to change laws and policies at the root of these injustices and disparities. She inspired thousands from all walks of life to end domestic and sexual violence.

Movement Declares October 1, 2018 the Tillie Black Bear Women Are Sacred Day

As a grandmother of the grassroots movement for safety for Native women, Tillie stressed the importance of utilizing our tribal cultures, stories, and traditions to address violence in our communities. “Even in thought, women are to be respected. We teach this to our children. We teach it to our grandchildren. We teach it to our kids so that the generations to come will know what is expected of them. Those generations will also know how to treat each other as relatives.” —Tillie Black Bear.

“As we pause to honor and reflect on Tillie’s life, the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) asks all advocates and activists to commit to an action to celebrate Tillie’s life and the beginning of the national battered women’s movement,” said Lucy Simpson, Director, NIWRC. “By declaring October 1st as the National Tillie Black Bear Women Are Sacred Day, we honor her legacy.”

July 19, 2018, St. Francis, SD—“My mother wanted a white buffalo calf headstone and I think she would have loved this one.”—Connie Black Bear-Brushbreaker, daughter of Tillie Black Bear. The newly unveiled memorial statute was placed on the gravesite honoring the 4th anniversary of the passing over of Tillie Black Bear. Over 100 relatives, friends and longtime advocates for the safety of Native women attended the memorial service.

In 1978, Tillie was the first Native woman to organize a national movement and educate Congress on domestic violence and the federal trust responsibility to assist Indian tribes in protecting their women. Tillie leaves a strong legacy of tribal grassroots organizing. We are honored and challenged to continue to build our movement for safety,” says Lucy Simpson, Executive Director, NIWRC. “Tillie inspired millions of other Americans from all walks of life to end domestic and sexual violence. We celebrate Tillie’s life with a national day to honor her life’s work.”

The 2018 Tillie Black Bear Women Are Sacred Day kicked off the October Domestic Violence Awareness Month and also supported all organizations¬—both tribal and non-tribal, law enforcement, health officials, and community members to speak out against domestic violence and support efforts to end violence against all women and help survivors find the healing they seek. National Tillie Black Bear Women Are Sacred Day serves as a call to action for ongoing social justice to honor the legacy of the Grandmother of the Grassroots Movement of Safety for Native Women.

“It is an honor to receive the Tillie Black Bear Women Are Sacred award. Tillie inspired so many of us over her life-long commitment to build a movement to increase the safety of Native women and sovereignty of our Indian tribes to protect women. Tillie as a Sicangu Lakota women understood this connection and struggle.”—Carmen O’Leary, June 26, 2018. Pictured with Carmen is Coleen Clark, the first recipient of the Tillie Black Bear Women are Sacred Memorial Award, and other members of the Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains. Coleen made a red ribbon skirt and gifted it to Carmen in honor of her receiving the 2018 award.