Tillie Black Bear Speaking at Rally
SAINT FRANCIS, SOUTH DAKOTA — Tillie Black Bear, Sicangu, walked on Saturday evening, July 19th, 2014. She founded the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center in 2011.
A tireless advocate for battered Native women, Black Bear became known as the Grandmother of the Battered Women’s Movement for her leadership spanning almost four decades.
In 1978, as a young woman, Tillie began her national movement building by testifying at the first U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hearings on wife beating. The same year, Tillie went on to lead in building organizations that continue to serve as houses of the movement—the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (formerly the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence). At the same time, Tillie organized in her home communities on the Rosebud reservation, serving as a founding mother to the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society.
Learn more about Tillie Black Bear in “Beyond the Shelter Doors,” a short documentary on White Buffalo Calf Woman Society.
For the next three decades, Tillie’s leadership continued to indigenize federal legislation—the Violence Against Women Act, the Family Violence Protection & Services Act, and much more. In 1995, after the passage of VAWA, Tillie met with the Department of Justice to plant a stake that VAWA included Indian tribes. In 2000, Tillie helped shape the new VAWA tribal coalition program.
Tillie Black Bear with President Bill Clinton in 2000
In 2003, Tillie led a Wiping of the Tears Ceremony at the Senate building to launch the struggle for the VAWA ‘05 Safety for Indian Women Act.
In 2011, as part of the NCAI Task Force, Tillie met with United Nation’s SR Manjoo as a pathway to the VAWA 2013 victory, restoring jurisdiction over non-Indians to Indian tribes.
PHOTOS Courtesy: National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center