Tami Truett Jerue Receives the 2023 Tillie Black Bear Women Are Sacred Award

By the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center (AKNWRC)

The lifelong achievements and leadership of Tami Truett Jerue, Executive Director of the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center (AKNWRC), were celebrated at the 2023 Women Are Sacred Conference in Albuquerque, where Tami, alongside her daughters Bryana and Elizabeth, granddaughter Laura, AKNWRC Board of Directors and Staff, and countless colleagues and friends, received the prestigious Tillie Black Bear Women Are Sacred Award for her decades-long leadership, advocacy, and love for Native survivors of gender-based violence in Alaska and nationwide.

To know Tami is to love her. As a Tribal citizen of the Anvik Village, a small Deg Hit’an Athabascan community on the Yukon River, Tami has dedicated her life to serving her community, empowering Alaska Native (AN) Tribes, and being an advocate in the trenches, providing emergency services and safety planning to people in danger of imminent harm across the state. 

Working in domestic violence, sexual assault, and intersecting issues for the last 40 years, Tami has worked tirelessly to ensure that survivors of all violence receive the best culturally grounded support, whether from her own advocacy work or by providing culturally sensitive training to others. Tami’s experiences have guided her work, rooted in AN and Indigenous teachings, principles, and traditional knowledge and customs.

As a grassroots organizer, Tami, alongside other dedicated AN advocates, began creating an Alaska statewide resource center to concentrate the movement’s work in Alaska and provide desperately needed culturally specific training and technical assistance to Tribal domestic violence and sexual assault programs across the state. Formally organized in 2015, AKNWRC, under Tami’s leadership, has grown in staff, reputation, and reach over the past seven years. The AKNWRC has become a leading voice for AN survivors of violence statewide, nationwide, and internationally, helping raise the voices, stories, challenges, and priorities of AN survivors and Tribes, advocating for change while seeking to increase Tribal infrastructure, programming, services, and sovereignty of all AN Tribes.

Tami is the Indigenous voice for change, advocacy, and empowerment for AN survivors of violence and Tribes. Tami’s dedication to her community and commitment to ending domestic violence is truly inspiring. Her work continues to profoundly impact the lives of survivors and their families, inspiring change for generations to come.

About the Tillie Black Bear Women Are Sacred Award

The biannual Tillie Black Bear Women Are Sacred Award is dedicated to Tillie Black Bear, the first Indigenous woman to advocate for battered Indian women nationally until her passing in 2014. Tillie is recognized as the Grandmother of the Battered Women’s Movement for her leadership spanning almost four decades. Tillie provided leadership at critical moments of struggle for safety and sovereignty, and her handprints rest on national legislation to advance safety for women, including a national agenda for strengthening the sovereignty of Indian Nations. The award honors Tillie’s legacy by recognizing outstanding grassroots advocates who exemplify the teachings and dedication that Tillie instilled in the movement to restore safety for Native women.