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Tillie Black Bear, Rosebud activist honored by President Clinton

ST. FRANCIS, S.D. - A woman who has championed the cause of ending family violence and supported grass-roots efforts to slow acts of violence on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation was honored in the nation's capital Dec. 6.

Tillie Black Bear joined the ranks of a distinguished list of recipients of the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award. Black Bear, who has worked tirelessly for the past two decades in helping crisis-torn families, founded the White Buffalo Calf Women's Society Inc. She sought to end the suffering of women and children who were victims of domestic violence and founded the first women's shelter on an Indian reservation. She went on to help found two more.

A survivor of domestic violence herself, she has taught and counseled victims, batterers and law enforcement officials alike. She is a founder and former president of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and known across the nation as a leading advocate for battered women.

"To the Lakota Sioux, the birth of the white buffalo calf is a sign of peace and harmony to come, a prophecy of the end of war, and especially of the suffering of children," said President Bill Clinton at the ceremony honoring the award recipients.

"Tillie was born on Human Rights Day, December the 10th. We thank her for her courage and a lifetime of commitment."

Just a few months ago Black Bear helped lead a march through the city of Mission to call attention to violence on the reservation and help relatives victimized by the loss of their loved ones begin to rebuild their lives.

"For more than 20 years, Tillie Black Bear has been a strong voice for Native American and women's rights and a leading advocate for victims of domestic violence. She founded the first shelter for battered women on an Indian reservation in 1977 and has worked with energy and determination to prevent domestic abuse, provide counseling and empower women with the tools they need to succeed," Clinton said.