2022 Tillie Black Bear Women Are Sacred Day Virtual Healing Camp

By Paula Julian, Filipina, Editor, Restoration Magazine & Senior Policy Specialist, NIWRC
Photo of Tillie Black Bear with a landscape, nature background
Tillie Black Bear.
Photo courtesy of Jax Agtuca, NIWRC.

In honor of Tillie Black Bear, Wa Wokiye Win (Woman Who Helps Everyone), Women Are Sacred Day NIWRC offered a virtual healing camp for survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence, and advocates. Tillie centered much of her advocacy on providing support for women to heal and organized with White Buffalo Calf Woman’s Society on behalf of survivors of sexual assault Sicangu based healing camps.

“There has to be a piece about reclaiming traditional ways of healing, not only consequences for perpetrators but traditional ways of healing for the victims. For the victim, there is a part of her that has been taken. How do we help her reclaim that part that has been taken? What do we need to do as tribal women to do that? There have been many times where we have taken women into the purification lodge, and it basically lays a foundation for the women for healing. And that is where it is really important for women who believe in traditional spirituality–they are reclaimed by that. We pray with the woman to help her reclaim parts of her body. We wipe her tears. We wipe her down with the sage to cleanse her that way. Often, victims want some type of healing, they want something to help them stop the pain they are experiencing, the feeling of fear not only for themselves but for family members. To help them put a closure to that. And women do not just come once, but they keep coming back for additional purification lodge ceremonies. It becomes a foundation and framework for how they take care of themselves in other situations, other periods of their lives. It is about having a belief in something greater. After working here at Rosebud for over 25 years, we have to do something that is hands-on, tangible, that will give them the strength to know they are not alone.”Tillie Black Bear, September 2006, Saint Francis, Rosebud Indian Reservation

Events and activities were scheduled throughout October, beginning October 1, 2022. While we have a lot of work to do to achieve social change at the tribal/local, state, national and international levels, we should take a moment to remember that individual and collective healing is possible and available. Indigenous women are more than the trauma of domestic violence they have experienced, and these activities and tools can help move survivors through and release the trauma to reconnect with not only ourselves but with those who offer support. Wa Wokiye Win offered hope and healing and inspired generations of survivors and advocates. We hope this inspired everyone to more intentionally plan and regularly implement self-care throughout the year to improve overall health outcomes for Indigenous women. 

Organized by Tillie’s daughter Connie Brushbreaker and her family on October 1, 2022,  was a Tillie Black Bear Tribute Celebratory Walk on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation with a traditional opening provided by Waycee His Fancy Horse. 

“We should take a moment to remember that individual and collective healing is possible and available. Indigenous women are more than the trauma of domestic violence they have experienced.”
-—Paula Julian, Filipina, Senior Policy Specialist, NIWRC

We invite everyone to watch the recordings of our sessions on our website and share them widely to help us continue to center support and healing with and for survivors and advocates. Sessions addressed a variety of support and healing, including ceremony, exercise, walking/running, healthy diet, songs, dances, breadmaking, arts, talking circles, energy work, including the use of essential oils, use of video to help youth share their truths, laughter, talking sticks, and implementing self-care and wellness for staff. We plan to organize seasonal healing sessions throughout the next year. Please join our mailing list to receive information about and join these sessions. These virtual healing camp sessions were supported with FVPSA and nonfederal funding.

Save the Date

An image of a "Save the Date" poster for Tillie Black Bear's Virtual Healing Camp. The background is grey with a faded picture of a Native American woman. The test is white and purple.

Designed by NIWRC staff.