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. We will celebrate her life with a National Day to honor her life and life’s work.
Every nine seconds a woman is abused in an intimate partner relationship. Native women are abused 2.5 times the national average. One in three Native women will be raped; three out of five will be physically assaulted. And the most difficult statistic of all, on some Indian reservations, Native women are murdered at a rate 10 times the national average. Native women have been surviving abuse in silence since contact with non-Native governments. Eight-eight percent of abusers are non-Native. How does social and cultural change continue, and the healing reach all who need and deserve healing? Who gives hope and healing to generations of survivors without a place to turn? A Grandmother – Tillie Black Bear.
As a Grandmother of the Grassroots Movement of 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 to come 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—by declaring October 1st as the National Tillie Black Bear Women Are Sacred Day so all can honor her legacy. “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.” Lucy Simpson, Executive Director, NIWRC. “Tillie inspired millions of other Americans from all walks of life to end domestic and sexual violence. We would like to celebrate Tillie’s life with a national day to honor her life’s work.”
The Tillie Black Bear Women Are Sacred Day on October 1 will not only kick off Domestic Violence Awareness Month but will also support 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 will be a call to action for ongoing social justice to honor the legacy of the Grandmother of the Grassroots Movement of Safety for Native Women.
We call on all those concerned for the safety of Native women to join this effort!
DOWNLOAD: Tillie Black Bear Women Are Sacred Day Awareness Cards and share on your social media with #TillieBlackBearWASDay #TBBWASDay #TribalDVAM