FYSB Tribal Grantees Speak: Tilllie Black Bear, White Buffalo Calf Woman Society

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logo, White Buffalo Calf Woman Society

In this five-part series, we spoke with staff and young people living and working in programs that have received grants from the Family and Youth Services Bureau. Some are Tribal organizations; others are non-tribal entities that serve a large number of Native youth. Here’s what Tilllie Black Bear, executive director of White Buffalo Calf Woman Society on the Rosewood Indian Sioux Reservation in Mission, SD, had to say:

I’m a survivor of domestic violence. It was 35, 36, 37 years ago when I got out of it. There were no resources or anything available in those days. There were no laws protecting women, no shelters, nothing.

Today, I think that there’s a greater awareness. Tribes are beginning to develop codes for the safety and protection of women against domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, sexual harassment.

We say that violence against Lakota women is not a tradition. Tribal women across America, they owned property, they were the caretakers of the children.

Women stay with us for as long as they need to. I remember this young girl came to us from another reservation, she was 18 years old, pregnant. She was a senior in another school system. We helped her to get through her education in high school, to get her diploma, and her child was born here.

A different woman, she was pregnant and I just remember her because her husband sang in a band. He would leave just enough gas in the car so she could get herself to the hospital in case her pains came, and she eventually left that relationship. She was a very strong woman. She got her degree in accounting and moved.

When a woman is killed or hurt so bad that they have to be flown out for an emergency, it’s a reminder that there’s so much more work to be done. I think those are the moments that really define our commitment and our work. The majority of the women go back to their abusers but they walk away with some information, they know additional resources, and they also know there’s a life that can be violence free.

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Program funds shelters and other services for victims of domestic violence and their families. In FY 2009, FYSB awarded a total of $12.7  million for 212 Family Violence Prevention and Services Program grantees. Grant announcements for the Tribal Grant Program are usually released annually in the spring. Sign up to be notified when new grant announcements are released.

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