The National Center for Victims of Crime joins others around the country in remembering Tillie Black Bear, member of the Sicangu Lakota Nation/Rosebud Sioux Tribe and nationally renowned victim advocate. Tillie passed away on July 19, 2014. She was a tireless advocate, inspirational voice and respected leader of the battered women’s movement since its beginnings, testifying at the first U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 1978.
Tillie was a founding mother of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) and the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society establishing the first Native women’s shelter in the United States. She was also a founder of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) and the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Tillie’s many awards and achievements include being honored twice by the U.S. Department of Justice for her work with crime victims, she was a President Bush Points of Light Honoree, received the Visionary Voice Award presented by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and was the 2000 Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award recipient from President Clinton.
She held a Master of the Arts from the University of South Dakota and a Bachelor of Science from Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She served on the St. Francis Indian School Board of Directors in St. Francis, South Dakota, and Sinte Gleska University Board of Regents in Mission, South Dakota.
Tillie will be remembered as one of the most powerful victim’s rights advocates in history. She loved her Tribe, her non-Native sisters, her family and her work. Her physical presence will be missed, however her spirit will live on through the lives she touched and the legacy she built.