Tillie Black Bear: Tribal domestic violence was once punished by death
Lakota family violence expert Tillie Black Bear says tribal domestic violence offenders paid for the crime with their life before Europeans settlers stole American Indian lands
Tillie Black Bear holds an informal talk with some members of the audience following her Sept. 2008 address to the UNITED Conference at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan. (Photo by Greg Peterson)
(Marquette, Michigan) – Family violence activist Tillie Black Bear says Lakota domestic violence was once punished by death to the offender . She says the current laws don’t scare abusers.
This the fourth in a series of videos about Tillie Black Bear – the executive director and one of the founders of the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society (WBCWS) in South Dakota.
In the old days, Black Bear said Lakota women were treated with more respect and retained their family name after marriage. Before Europeans arrived, Black bear said Iroquois women could dehorn a male member of the tribe if they felt he was not fit to be a leader.
Black Bear’s quotes were used in Indian Country Today newspaper stories written by Greg Peterson, the New York-based papers Great Lakes correspondent and volunteer media advisor for the nonprofit Turtle island Project:
For 31 years, the WBCWS that serves the Lakota Sioux Rosebud Reservation in Mission, South Dakota.
Black Bear spoke to the Northern Michigan University 2008 Uniting Neighbors in the Experience of Diversity (UNITED) Conference on September 23, 2008.
She spoke in the Great Lakes Room of the NMU University center and later held an informal discussion with the public.
Tillie Black Bear quotes and paraphrases:
The clam mothers picked who would represent their clan. They had a process of nurturing a male to get to that point. There were things that this man could not do in order for him to be in a leadership position for the Iroquois Nation.
If this man did not do these things, or his leadership was not very good, then the clan mothers would dehorn him. They would take away his leadership
Tribal women were not recognized in their rights as tribal leaders in the treaties within our tribes because the federal government only wanted male signatures.
There were only male signatures in 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty.
Monument at Wounded Knee, S.D. is Mr. And Mrs. So-and-so.
One of the rights that (American Indian) women had was that we retained our name in marriage. We did not become Mr. And Mrs. Sitting Bull or Mrs. Sitting Bull. Or Mrs. Anything.
We kept our name. We were known for our name. With the impact of colonization then we became to assume our husband’s name when we got married.
This is what I do.
I call it reclaiming the sacredness of tribal women all over Turtle Island. Because as women we are very sacred. Because we are the ones who give birth to the next generation.
There were ceremonies for young women when they reached their first menses that told the community she was a young woman now. And she had a responsibility to bear children.
Black Bears visit was coordinated by the NMU Center for Native American Studies and the non-profit Turtle Island Project in Munising, Michigan.
The Turtle Island Project (TIP) has held several concerts and other events to raises funds for the WBCWS. TIP Director Rev. Dr. Lynn Hubbard travels several times a year to the Rosebud Reservation.
Black Bear was greeted by Dr. Judith Puncochar, an NMU Professor and an organizer of the annual UNITED Conference
Tillie Black Bear was introduced by Grace Chaillier, an NMU Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Center for Native American Studies and a registered member of the Sicangu Lakota band of the Rosebud Sioux – the same tribe as Black Bear.
Please watch the other Turtle Island Project videos on Tillie Black Bear’s talk in northern Michigan.
Black Bear addresses the Lakota teen suicide crisis, domestic violence, people respecting people and many other important issues.
The Turtle Island Project thanks Tillie Black Bear, NMU Center for Native American Studies, Uniting Neighbors in the Experience of Diversity (UNITED) and White Buffalo Calf Woman Society, Inc.
Tillie Black Bear. Executive Director
White Buffalo Calf Woman Society, Inc.
October is Domestic Violence Month
Tillie Black Bear is an enrolled member of the Sicangu Lakota Nation/Rosebud Sioux Tribe.
She is presently the Executive Director of the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society, Inc., which operates the oldest shelter for women who have been battered or raped on Indian reservations; and is the first shelter for women of color in the U.S. (1978).
Tillie Black Bear is recognized throughout the state, nationally, and in Indian Country as one of the leading experts on violence against women and children.
She is a founding mother of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) and a founder of the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SDCADV&SA) both in 1978.
She was the first woman of color to chair NCADV and continues to sit on the Board of Director for the SDCADV&SA.
Black Bear presently serves on the advisory board of National Sexual Assault Resource Center, Pennsylvania and is past member of the professional advisory board of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Austin, TX.
Tillie Black Bear is pictured on Sept. 23, 2008 in Marquette, MI with Dr. José Cuellar of La Raza Studies at San Francisco State University, who spoke on “The Four Enemies of Diversity.”
Black Bear and Dr. Cuellar were both featured speakers at the 2008 UNITED Conference at Northern Michigan University.
Tillie Black Bear is currently a council member for Clan Star a technical resources for tribal grantees through Department of Justice.
Tillie Black Bear was the recipient of an award from the U.S. Department of Justice for her work with victims of crime in April,1988; and in 1989 was one of President Bushs Point of Light.
In 1999 at the Millennium Conference on Domestic Violence in Chicago, IL, Black Bear was one of 10 individuals recognized as one of the founders of the domestic violence movement in the United States.
She was awarded an Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award in December, 2000 by President Clinton.
In May, 2003 Black Bear was a recipient of the first annual LifeTime Achievement Award from LifeTime Television.
Black Bear was selected as one of 21 Leaders for the 21st Century award by Womens eNews in 2004.
In 2005, she received an award from NOW.
She is retired from Sinte Gleska University as a part-time instructor in Human Services; Casey Foundation as a licensed foster parent.
Currently, Black Bear works as a teacher of 13 years teaching students taking a course on cross-cultural ministry at Catholic Theological Union through Shalom Ministries out of Chicago, IL.
Black Bear and colleague Sally Roesch Wagner, Ph.D. have completed a poster series on D/Lakota women elders on each of the nine Dakota/Lakota Nations in South Dakota entitled: D/Lakota Women Keepers of the Nation.
Another collaborative work is workshops on issues of Racism and Cultural Diversity, which has taken them to South Dakota, Vermont, New York, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa.
Black Bear has worked as a therapist, certified school counselor, administrator, college instructor and comptroller.
She holds a Master of Art (1974) from the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD; Bachelor of Science (1971), Northern State University, Aberdeen, SD.
She has served on the St. Francis Indian School Board of Directors, St. Francis, SD; and Sinte Gleska University Board of Regents, Mission, SD.
Black Bear is single mother of 3 girls, grandmother of thirteen and survivor of domestic violence.
Center for Native American Studies
Northern Michigan University
112F Whitman Hall
April Lindala, Director
Center for Native American Studies
(906) 227-1396 (fax)
NMU Adjunct Assistant Professor
Sicangu Lakota band of the Rosebud Sioux
112G Whitman Hall
PO Box 227
Official website of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe – Sicangu Lakota
Uniting Neighbors in the Experience of Diversity (UNITED):
Northern Michigan University
September 21-23, 2008
Other UNITED links:
Dr. Judith Puncochar
Turtle Island Project
137 East Onota Street
Rev. Dr. Lynn Hubbard, TIP Co-founder, Director
Rev. Dr. George Cairns, TIP Co-Founder, Board President
Turtle Island Project Director Rev. Dr. Lynn Hubbard of Munising, MI was a guest speaker at the 2007 and 2008 UNITED Conference at NMU. Rev. Hubbard is pastor of the Eden on the Bay Lutheran Church in Munising, MI.
Please see the videos on his talks on TIP TV.
For more information on the TIP call 906-202-0590 or 906-401-0109
In recent years, the Turtle Island Project has held several free concerts and other events to raise money for the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society. The latest concert was held in Munising, Michigan in Dec. 2008
NMU Native American student-run newspaper
Check out these web addresses to read more about the Lakota (and other Native American tribes) Prayer & Song to the Four Directions:
Lakota Sioux & Rosebud Reservation: