international women's day

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Women’s History Month: Mama Bear

In honor of Women’s History Month, The Western New York Peace Center would like to recognize a strong woman, who continues to spread her traditions and culture to all with peace, strength and resilience. Louise Herne McDonald, Bear Clan mother, aka Mama Bear, is the woman we would like to acknowledge this month. Some of us had the honor of meeting her at the International Women’s Day Talking Circle, which was held at The Niagara Arts & Cultural Center. Mama Bear is a light and a force, she is the true definition of what it means to be a strong woman. Mama bear is from Tribal Nation Kanien’keha:ka which translates to People of the Flint. As stated in an article by Spirit Aligned she is “a condoled Mohawk Bear Clan Mother, she pulls the threads of ancient matrilineal knowledge from Sky Woman’s origins to the present. Louise activates ceremony as a way of being and knowing over the life course—truly as a pathway away from violence, abuse, and illness to health”.

To read more about the Haudenosaunee Creation Story, Sky Woman please go here.

Mama Bear speaks about matriarchy and how her culture has always been heavily based upon strong female leaders. Women have always been important in the Native American cultures, when electing leaders, and when it came to living situations, it was dependent on the women. Everyone has a voice, and all people in their society are equally important and necessary to each other. The role of the Clan Mother has been passed down for generations. She envisions a world where women are equals, where women are empowered, and where women are leaders.

In an interview with Women’s Media Center she stated “it’s unfortunate that the patriarchal European male mind could not comprehend the worth of women, and the brilliance of women, and they chose to ignore them; and I think that’s what’s eating away at the world: patriarchy. And, you know, I wouldn’t venture to say that it’s men in general, it’s the mentality that puts the privileged white male at the forefront of our decision making to the detriment of the rest of our society”. The full interview can be found here. If European men looked at the Native American model when they originally migrated to America, things may have been different. Instead they changed everything, suppressed women, and disrupted society. Women eventually fought back, with the help of Indigenous people as the inspiration of the Women’s movement.

Mama bear cares so deeply about this Earth, and her people. In her role “she has taken on responsibilities for her people, leading her to efforts of healing, restoring, and finding voice. Louise tells us that her people are evolving the story of trauma and loss to a new story of strength that is grounded in cultural resiliency” (Spirit Aligned). She gives so much to her community, and continues to educate the rest of the world. She is a strong, resilient woman, who deserves recognition during Women’s History Month.

To learn more please watch the documentary “Without A Whisper”

International Women’s Day Talking Circle 3/8/2022