Historically the non-native movements around domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking etc. are separate initiatives. Although, Native women most often place their traditional culture at the core of their work to end violence against women, the non-native model for the movement to end the different forms of violence against women is used. Each has it’s own ribbon, color, month, funding, events and approach. These separations or divisions do not support social change or reflect our culture and experiences of women, much less Native women.
Indigenous people recognize the turtle as the symbol of Mother Earth. Mother Earth provides protection for women through the turtle. The spirit of the turtle is feminine, embodying fertility, patience, nurturing, longevity, fortitude, calmness and resiliency. The body of the turtle’s shell carries the marks of thirteen moons. The edge of the turtle’s shell carries the marks of 28 days. These marks represent the life cycle of women and Mother Earth. The turtle retreats into the quiet protection of its shell, re-energizes and then emerges, moving forward into the world. These are the attributes of women and Mother Earth.
The strength and wisdom of the turtle is needed as we struggle against and survive the violence aimed at us because we are women. Every woman who experiences violence is recognized as a Sacred Turtle Woman. In the spirit of the turtle, we reclaim and celebrate the strength, wisdom, and sacredness of the feminine spirit within women.
We acknowledge, honor and thank the women of the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society, Inc. of the Sicangu Lakota Nation for initiating this declaration and offering it to all women.