Human Rights Day in Honor of Tillie Black Bear: Opening Those Closed Doors - Advocacy and Actions, We Must

The celebration of life for Tillie Black Bear, the founding grandmother of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC), on the same day has Human Rights Day Dec. 10, 2021 is only appropriate. The NIWRC has dedicated a Research Poem to the late Tillie Black Bear in her honor to uplift her advocacy for Indigenous Women’s Human Rights on violence against women, in her testimony from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights January 19, 1978. Tillie Black Bear spoke of awareness, activism and recommendations for the epidemic of violence towards our women are still unfortunately very relevant in today’s time.     

As part of the research framework used for development, please view the video poem.    

In Honor of Tillie Black Bear 


As a Native American, I would like to make you aware of the fact of the problem of violence against Native American women, we must.  

It happens with Native women and women of rural America; I am rural America, an Indian reservation and a survivor of domestic violence, we must.  

I already had a master's, I was working, and I never thought that I would be in this situation, but I was; getting out of the situation, we must. 

Immediate facilities and support groups for our Native women, we must. 

Providing women’s shelters for rural and bigger cities, we must. 

The fact that the lack of money, lack of involvement; the problem has not been raised at a conscious level with the people, we must. 

Interdisciplinary cooperation among agencies, we must. 

This problem of violence against Native women, we need to deal with reverse discrimination, we must.

The family unit is an important unit within communities, we must. 

We need to get in there and make people aware of our problem, we must. 

We need to start opening those closed doors, we must.  

Making people aware of our problem and that some action be initiated, we must. 


In our work, as grassroots advocates, we must continue the efforts of advocating and demanding actions for the safety and securing of our women and children. Violence is not our tradition! There is an epidemic of violence against our Indigenous women that needs to be acknowledged and prioritized for considerable actions to eliminate violence.