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Old 03-20-2013, 05:31 PM   #1
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Two Spirit Powwow in California

Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit Powwow Brings Everyone Back Into the Circle - ICTMN.com

Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit Powwow Brings Everyone Back Into the Circle
Marc Dadigan March 20, 2013

Growing up in his primarily Christian Chickasaw tribal community in Oklahoma, Miko Thomas suffered a fear of being rejected for his identity as a Two Spirit, a modern term referring to Native people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual or gender variant. Now living in the San Francisco Bay Area, Thomas says that while his relations with some family members are still strained, the struggle to accept who he is became far easier when he learned about the history of Two Spirit people in traditional tribal cultures. Before colonization, many tribes recognized more than two genders (and many still do), and in many cultures Two Spirit people were often healers or had specific societal and ceremonial roles. “It meant my Indian identity and Two Spirit identity weren’t separate,” Thomas says. “It’s important that we acknowledge that history, that Two Spirit people did exist.”

As a member of the Two Spirits pow wow committee and organizer of the second annual Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit Powwow, Thomas wants to emphasize the importance of recognizing and celebrating that history during the event, which was held February 2 at the First Congregational Church Hall in Oakland, California and drew more than 1,000 people.

Organizers of the event say it’s the only Two Spirit pow wow in the nation that is open to the general public, and it is also a pow wow in which Two Spirit people can feel accepted and even dance in their preferred gender categories without being judged. “There are times when we can feel excluded at pow wows,” says L. Frank Manriquez, Tongva-Acjachemen, a Two Spirit and co-MC. “If a young woman wants to dance in a male category, she’s often met with derision if she’s allowed at all. This pow wow is gently cracking open those gender roles to accept what used to always be accepted in Indian time.”

The Two Spirit pow wow in February began with prayers and songs by local Ohlone people as the event was being held in their land, and a group of indigenous Pacific Islanders sang and provided a blessing as well. In between the competitions, the Queer Danzantes, a coalition of Aztec Dancers that seeks to promote Two Spirit wisdom, performed warrior dances for the fight for love and culture. There was also a touch of comedy as a few game volunteers made their own cardboard and tinfoil regalia and performed outlandish dances as they tried to illicit giggles from the participants of the “Stoic Indian” contest.

The pow wow was open to all dancers and participants, but the head woman dancer, head man dancer as well as Manriquez were Two Spirit people, ensuring their presence at the forefront of the proceedings. The Two Spirit pow wow also loosened the grip of many gender-based conventions of traditional pow wows as the grand entry song was sung entirely by women and many women were drumming, including several members of the Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit drum group.

“Pow wows are all about self-expression, so what better place to express who you are as someone from the Native and LGBT communities,” says head man dancer Tony Aaron Fuller, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation. “The Two Spirit pow wow brings a lot of my worlds together, so it’s a special place to be.”

The pow wow, says Navajo Two Spirit Nazbah Tom, was a place where the Western instinct to categorize people can be ignored: they can be Two Spirit, they can be Native and they could be pow wow people as well. In many communities, says Tom, an Oakland resident, it can be dangerous for people to be openly gay, and the pow wow is emblematic in how much progress has been made in restoring Two Spirit history and acknowledging the presence of Two Spirit people in modern Native culture. “I really believe that if our people are a cloth, then the Two Spirit people are the thread that holds it together,” says Tom.

Tom bases this belief on stories shared by trusted elders, and, in this way, she is following in the steps of her Two Spirit ancestors through her work at the American Indian Health Center in Oakland where she provides HIV-testing and counseling and conducts “drama therapy,” a method that uses performance and performance art to facilitate psychotherapy.

In one exercise with a men’s group, she helped the men create papier-mâché masks—on the inside of the masks, they wrote emotions and secrets that they keep hidden but wished they could share. On the outside, they wrote traits of the masculine façade they felt they had to project, such as never showing emotion or vulnerability. “One thing I’ve begun to learn at the age of 33 is that the Two Spirit identity is really beyond our current ideas and notions,” she says. “In English, we want to categorize things and keep them there. But in our Native languages, change is the only constant thing, and that is something we’ve lost with our genders.”

She and other Two Spirit activists have begun talking about a ceremony that would be more deeply emotional than the pow wow and even more affirming: an intertribal Becoming ceremony for young Two Spirits.

It would serve as a counter to the often-painful coming-out experience as well as a way for elders to welcome young Two Spirit people “back into the circle,” Tom says. “We shouldn’t be ashamed of our true selves, and we should celebrate them. So many of us were hurt when we found and announced ourselves, there would be so much healing behind letting them know there’s a place for everyone in the circle.”
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Old 03-20-2013, 06:21 PM   #2
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Old 03-21-2013, 03:26 AM   #3
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I'm not the least bit concerned about openly gay folk unless, by virtue of being "two spirit," they try to elevate themselves into some sort of magic Native unicorn.

You're not special, you're different.

There should be no protected class props for being different, Native or otherwise: you're just different.
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Old 03-21-2013, 05:59 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wyo_rose View Post
Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit Powwow Brings Everyone Back Into the Circle - ICTMN.com

Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit Powwow Brings Everyone Back Into the Circle
Marc Dadigan March 20, 2013

Growing up in his primarily Christian Chickasaw tribal community in Oklahoma, Miko Thomas suffered a fear of being rejected for his identity as a Two Spirit, a modern term referring to Native people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual or gender variant. Now living in the San Francisco Bay Area, Thomas says that while his relations with some family members are still strained, the struggle to accept who he is became far easier when he learned about the history of Two Spirit people in traditional tribal cultures. Before colonization, many tribes recognized more than two genders (and many still do), and in many cultures Two Spirit people were often healers or had specific societal and ceremonial roles. “It meant my Indian identity and Two Spirit identity weren’t separate,” Thomas says. “It’s important that we acknowledge that history, that Two Spirit people did exist.”

As a member of the Two Spirits pow wow committee and organizer of the second annual Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit Powwow, Thomas wants to emphasize the importance of recognizing and celebrating that history during the event, which was held February 2 at the First Congregational Church Hall in Oakland, California and drew more than 1,000 people.

Organizers of the event say it’s the only Two Spirit pow wow in the nation that is open to the general public, and it is also a pow wow in which Two Spirit people can feel accepted and even dance in their preferred gender categories without being judged. “There are times when we can feel excluded at pow wows,” says L. Frank Manriquez, Tongva-Acjachemen, a Two Spirit and co-MC. “If a young woman wants to dance in a male category, she’s often met with derision if she’s allowed at all. This pow wow is gently cracking open those gender roles to accept what used to always be accepted in Indian time.”

The Two Spirit pow wow in February began with prayers and songs by local Ohlone people as the event was being held in their land, and a group of indigenous Pacific Islanders sang and provided a blessing as well. In between the competitions, the Queer Danzantes, a coalition of Aztec Dancers that seeks to promote Two Spirit wisdom, performed warrior dances for the fight for love and culture. There was also a touch of comedy as a few game volunteers made their own cardboard and tinfoil regalia and performed outlandish dances as they tried to illicit giggles from the participants of the “Stoic Indian” contest.

The pow wow was open to all dancers and participants, but the head woman dancer, head man dancer as well as Manriquez were Two Spirit people, ensuring their presence at the forefront of the proceedings. The Two Spirit pow wow also loosened the grip of many gender-based conventions of traditional pow wows as the grand entry song was sung entirely by women and many women were drumming, including several members of the Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit drum group.

“Pow wows are all about self-expression, so what better place to express who you are as someone from the Native and LGBT communities,” says head man dancer Tony Aaron Fuller, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation. “The Two Spirit pow wow brings a lot of my worlds together, so it’s a special place to be.”

The pow wow, says Navajo Two Spirit Nazbah Tom, was a place where the Western instinct to categorize people can be ignored: they can be Two Spirit, they can be Native and they could be pow wow people as well. In many communities, says Tom, an Oakland resident, it can be dangerous for people to be openly gay, and the pow wow is emblematic in how much progress has been made in restoring Two Spirit history and acknowledging the presence of Two Spirit people in modern Native culture. “I really believe that if our people are a cloth, then the Two Spirit people are the thread that holds it together,” says Tom.

Tom bases this belief on stories shared by trusted elders, and, in this way, she is following in the steps of her Two Spirit ancestors through her work at the American Indian Health Center in Oakland where she provides HIV-testing and counseling and conducts “drama therapy,” a method that uses performance and performance art to facilitate psychotherapy.

In one exercise with a men’s group, she helped the men create papier-mâché masks—on the inside of the masks, they wrote emotions and secrets that they keep hidden but wished they could share. On the outside, they wrote traits of the masculine façade they felt they had to project, such as never showing emotion or vulnerability. “One thing I’ve begun to learn at the age of 33 is that the Two Spirit identity is really beyond our current ideas and notions,” she says. “In English, we want to categorize things and keep them there. But in our Native languages, change is the only constant thing, and that is something we’ve lost with our genders.”

She and other Two Spirit activists have begun talking about a ceremony that would be more deeply emotional than the pow wow and even more affirming: an intertribal Becoming ceremony for young Two Spirits.

It would serve as a counter to the often-painful coming-out experience as well as a way for elders to welcome young Two Spirit people “back into the circle,” Tom says. “We shouldn’t be ashamed of our true selves, and we should celebrate them. So many of us were hurt when we found and announced ourselves, there would be so much healing behind letting them know there’s a place for everyone in the circle.”
I enjoyed this post thoroughly, thank you for sharing.
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Old 03-21-2013, 01:45 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by anewbeginning88 View Post
I enjoyed this post thoroughly, thank you for sharing.
"Two Spirit Powwow in... 03-21-2013 04:58 AM What a douche"

Aww... A newbie (grey bead) called me a "douche." I am so unbelievably hurt!

Could it be the same newbie who posted one minute after issuing the missive at an odd time in the early morning? Seems more than coincidence.

Anewbeginning88, let me guess, you think you're special. (Actually, prior postings would seem to validate that thought. Well, the ones you haven't gone back and erased...) Hell, you might even be "two spirit."

Guess what? You're not special. You're just different. Very, very, VERY, VERY -- ahem -- "different."

And I'm thinking not in a good way.
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Old 03-21-2013, 01:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeke View Post
"Two Spirit Powwow in... 03-21-2013 04:58 AM What a douche"

Aww... A newbie (grey bead) called me a "douche." I am so unbelievably hurt!

Could it be the same newbie who posted one minute after issuing the missive at an odd time in the early morning? Seems more than coincidence.

Anewbeginning88, let me guess, you think you're special. (Actually, prior postings would seem to validate that thought. Well, the ones you haven't gone back and erased...) Hell, you might even be "two spirit."

Guess what? You're not special. You're just different. Very, very, VERY, VERY -- ahem -- "different."

And I'm thinking not in a good way.
I can't believe someone would give you a bad rep and call you a douche!
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Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?


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Old 03-21-2013, 03:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe's Dad View Post
I can't believe someone would give you a bad rep and call you a douche!
Awww Hell NO!!!! Nobody does that to our newly elected Powwows.com Princess and gets away with it
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Old 03-21-2013, 06:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeke View Post
"Two Spirit Powwow in... 03-21-2013 04:58 AM What a douche"

Aww... A newbie (grey bead) called me a "douche." I am so unbelievably hurt!

Could it be the same newbie who posted one minute after issuing the missive at an odd time in the early morning? Seems more than coincidence.

Anewbeginning88, let me guess, you think you're special. (Actually, prior postings would seem to validate that thought. Well, the ones you haven't gone back and erased...) Hell, you might even be "two spirit."

Guess what? You're not special. You're just different. Very, very, VERY, VERY -- ahem -- "different."

And I'm thinking not in a good way.
I don't think I'm special, I just find it odd how you would bring that up out of nowhere, just shows where your mind is at. I meant no offense, just my opinion on this specific matter. I didn't neg rep you in the other thread however with this post I found it was meritable. Whether I'm two spirit or not is obviously none of your business. You can go ahead & think I'm different, you seem to enjoy categorizing others.
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Old 03-21-2013, 07:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anewbeginning88 View Post
I don't think I'm special, I just find it odd how you would bring that up out of nowhere, just shows where your mind is at. I meant no offense, just my opinion on this specific matter. I didn't neg rep you in the other thread however with this post I found it was meritable. Whether I'm two spirit or not is obviously none of your business. You can go ahead & think I'm different, you seem to enjoy categorizing others.
Now us old men don't give a hoot what you do or are. That's cuz we're old. LOL

I'm wondering...if you did give him the negative feedback here, why did you use the word, 'douche'?...and...if you did give him the negative feedback, did you sign your username?

We are all entitled to our opinion. Some by right. Others by privilege (that's another topic). What I got out of Zeke's comment was, 'Gay people are not special, they are different'.

Is that not an accurate observation?
__________________


Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?


"When I was young man I did some dumb things and the elders would talk to me. Sometimes I listened. Time went by and as I looked around...I was the elder".

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Old 03-21-2013, 07:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeke View Post
I'm not the least bit concerned about openly gay folk unless, by virtue of being "two spirit," they try to elevate themselves into some sort of magic Native unicorn.

You're not special, you're different.

There should be no protected class props for being different, Native or otherwise: you're just different.
I only see where 'you're' is being used in the plural form and not in the singular form.

Am I looking out of psychadelic hippie glasses???
__________________


Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?


"When I was young man I did some dumb things and the elders would talk to me. Sometimes I listened. Time went by and as I looked around...I was the elder".

Mr. Rossie Freeman
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Old 03-21-2013, 07:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeke View Post
"Two Spirit Powwow in... 03-21-2013 04:58 AM What a douche"

Aww... A newbie (grey bead) called me a "douche." I am so unbelievably hurt!

Could it be the same newbie who posted one minute after issuing the missive at an odd time in the early morning? Seems more than coincidence.

Anewbeginning88, let me guess, you think you're special. (Actually, prior postings would seem to validate that thought. Well, the ones you haven't gone back and erased...) Hell, you might even be "two spirit."

Guess what? You're not special. You're just different. Very, very, VERY, VERY -- ahem -- "different."

And I'm thinking not in a good way.
He still called you 'different, not 'special'!!!
__________________


Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?


"When I was young man I did some dumb things and the elders would talk to me. Sometimes I listened. Time went by and as I looked around...I was the elder".

Mr. Rossie Freeman
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Old 03-21-2013, 07:18 PM   #12
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Red face

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe's Dad View Post
Now us old men don't give a hoot what you do or are. That's cuz we're old. LOL

I'm wondering...if you did give him the negative feedback here, why did you use the word, 'douche'?...and...if you did give him the negative feedback, did you sign your username?

We are all entitled to our opinion. Some by right. Others by privilege (that's another topic). What I got out of Zeke's comment was, 'Gay people are not special, they are different'.

Is that not an accurate observation?

My placing on the matter is that they're not necessarily special or different. That's far too simple an interpretation. The reality is they're gay, they're bi, they're trans, etc. Douche on the other hand is a commonly used to word in the younger generation. As defined by the urban dictionary: " One who is douchey -- a self-promoting asshole who contributes nothing to the world. Tool. Loser
I feel like such a douche applying for jobs like that, but I gotta pay rent right? ". Nothing to do with clean vaginas unfortunately. However instead of providing nothing to the world ( an impossible task by any measure ) he was providing nothing to an open space, the easy response if you will. I'm not saying he's a discriminatory prick, but his wording could have been a bit better & perhaps my immediate reaction as well. I did give the neg rep ( something I doubt will ruin his track record, he certainly has enough posts ), my first time I think, but I didn't sign my name. I'm not looking for drama. I just wanted to say how nice the post was & give a neg rep for a post I personally believed to be lack luster. Definitely no drama intended & I didn't want to take over the thread with said drama. The focus should be on the original post & not testosterone
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Old 03-21-2013, 07:29 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Joe's Dad View Post
He still called you 'different, not 'special'!!!
Indeed, but he did say " Anewbeginning88, let me guess, you think you're special" & I clarified that I didn't think I was. Pretty simple.
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Old 03-21-2013, 09:05 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Zeke View Post
"Two Spirit Powwow in... 03-21-2013 04:58 AM What a douche"

Aww... A newbie (grey bead) called me a "douche." I am so unbelievably hurt!

Could it be the same newbie who posted one minute after issuing the missive at an odd time in the early morning? Seems more than coincidence.

Anewbeginning88, let me guess, you think you're special. (Actually, prior postings would seem to validate that thought. Well, the ones you haven't gone back and erased...) Hell, you might even be "two spirit."

Guess what? You're not special. You're just different. Very, very, VERY, VERY -- ahem -- "different."

And I'm thinking not in a good way.
My posts in the other thread didn't state I was special, I just happened to think the Cherokee were right. Albeit I was wavering on the issue, which is why I edited the post. I just figured I'd come up with one side & await a response/discussion & see how I felt after. What I got was a lot of silence & than you which is why I deleted them altogether & I stated why in that specific thread. No reason to bring it over here. I think they call that spam
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Old 03-21-2013, 09:10 PM   #15
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Talking Pefect example:

Two Spirit Powwow in... 03-21-2013 08:50 PM discriminatory prick ? Not a bit !......................wd

That's exactly what I said, still got a neg rep. Do I care? No, why? because it's someones opinion, even if they did incorrectly read my post. Should I have posted this? No, why? because it's a waste of thread space, spamming & selfish.
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Old 03-21-2013, 10:05 PM   #16
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Old 03-22-2013, 01:20 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anewbeginning88 View Post
You can go ahead & think I'm different, you seem to enjoy categorizing others.
You seem to enjoy categorizing yourself.

Keep digging and, eventually, you'll make it out of the hole you're creating.
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Old 03-22-2013, 01:34 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Zeke View Post
You seem to enjoy categorizing yourself.

Keep digging and, eventually, you'll make it out of the hole you're creating.
All you did was copy what I said & add a metaphor. Pointless much..
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Old 03-22-2013, 01:36 AM   #19
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At least I sign it when I give bad rep !
Not a horrible idea. I guess that way they at least know who it is & can message said person & ask why the neg rep was given.

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Old 03-22-2013, 02:02 AM   #20
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So let's get back to the subject at hand. It's a powwow being put on by the GLBTXYZ people around San Francisco. So instead of being called 'Gay', the new term is 'two-spirited'. However, in some tribes, 'two-spirit' takes on another meaning.

Now remember, West Hollywood in October is the rave of L.A in October. Heck, I even want to go just to say I went and mark it off my bucket list.

Is there enough Natives in the Bay Area to hold a 'respectable' powwow, or do you think it will take on a West Hollywood atmosphere?

Read this:

Two-Spirit
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Two-Spirit People (also Two Spirit or Twospirit) is an umbrella term sometimes used for what was once commonly known as berdaches (pron.: /bərˈdæʃɨz/), Indigenous North Americans who fulfill one of many mixed gender roles found traditionally among many Native Americans and Canadian First Nations communities.

Third gender roles historically embodied by Two-Spirit people include performing work and wearing clothing associated with both men and women. The presence of male two-spirits "was a fundamental institution among most tribal peoples."[1] Male and female two-spirits have been "documented in over 130 tribes, in every region of North America."[2]
Contents

1 Terminology
2 Definition and historic societal role
3 Media depictions
4 Self-identified Two-Spirits
5 See also
6 References
7 Sources and further reading
7.1 Archival Resources
8 External links
8.1 Organizations and meetings
8.2 Resources and readings

Terminology

Before the late twentieth century, the term berdache was widely used by anthropologists as a generic term to indicate "two-spirit" individuals; however, this term has become considered increasingly outdated and considered offensive. (Based on the French bardache implying a male prostitute or catamite, the word originates in Arabic bardaj: البَرْدَجُ" meaning "captive, captured."[3][4][5][6][7])

Use of the berdache term has widely been replaced with Two-Spirit, which itself gained widespread popularity in 1990 during the third annual intertribal Native American/First Nations gay and lesbian conference in Winnipeg. Two-Spirit is a term chosen to distinctly express Native/First Nations gender identity and gender variance, in addition to replacing the otherwise imposed terms of berdache and gay.[8][9][10]

"Two-spirited" or "two-spirit" usually indicates a person whose body simultaneously manifests both a masculine and a feminine spirit. The term can also be used more abstractly, to indicate presence of two contrasting human spirits (such as Warrior and Clan Mother) or two contrasting animal spirits (which, depending on the culture, might be Eagle and Coyote). However, these uses, while descriptive of some aboriginal cultural practices and beliefs, depart somewhat from the 1990 purposes of promoting the term.[citation needed]

There are many indigenous terms for Two-Spirit individuals in the various Native American languages — including Lakota: wíŋkte, Navajo: nádleehé,[11] and Mohave: hwame.[12]

In her 2007 book Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, biologist and transsexual female gender theorist Julia Serano described the characterizing of these people as mixed-gender as "dubious," saying that in so doing, anthropologists have been giving more credence to the judgments of non-gender variant indigenous North Americans than to the gender-variant people themselves. The anthropologists, she wrote, "seem to have so much invested in promoting the theoretical significance of "third genders" that they're oblivious to the ways in which these categories -rather than shattering the gender binary- may actually contribute to its stabilization by marking and segregating those people who have exceptional gender inclinations from gender-normative women and men."[13]
Definition and historic societal role

These individuals were sometimes viewed in certain tribes as having two spirits occupying one body. Their dress is usually a mixture of traditionally male and traditionally female articles. According to Sabine Lang they have distinct gender and social roles in their tribes.[14] In some tribes, male-bodied two-spirits held specific active roles which, varying by tribe, may include:
Detail of Dance to the Berdashe, painted by George Catlin

healers or medicine persons
conveyors of oral traditions and songs (Yuki)
foretellers of the future (Winnebago, Oglala Lakota)
conferrers of lucky names on children or adults (Oglala Lakota, Tohono O'odham)
nurses during war expeditions
potters (Zuni, Navajo, Tohono O'odham)
matchmakers (Cheyenne, Omaha, Oglala Lakota)
makers of feather regalia for dances (Maidu)
special role players in the Sun Dance (Crow, Hidatsa, Oglala Lakota)

Some feel the two spirit identity may be explained as a “form of social failure, women-men are seen as individuals who are not in a position to adapt themselves to the masculine role prescribed by their culture” (Lang, 28). Lang goes on to suggest that two-spirit people lost masculine power socially, so they took on female social roles to climb back up the social ladder within the tribe.

Cross dressing of two-spirit people was not always an indicator of cross acting (taking on other gender roles and social status within the tribe). Lang explains “the mere fact that a male wears women's clothing does not say something about his role behavior, his gender status, or even his choice of partner...” (62). Often within tribes, a child’s gender was decided by depending on their inclination toward either masculine or feminine activities, or their intersex status. Around puberty clothing choices were made to physically display their gender choice.[citation needed]

Two-spirit people, specifically male-bodied (biologically male, gender female), could go to war and have access to male activities such as sweat lodges.[15] However, they also took on female roles such as cooking and other domestic responsibilities. Today’s societal standards look down upon feminine males, and this perception of that identity has trickled into Native society.

Two-spirits might have relationships with people of either sex.[16] Female-bodied two-spirits usually had sexual relations or marriages with only females.[17] In the Lakota tribe, two-spirits commonly married widowers; a male-bodied two-spirit could perform the function of parenting the children of her wife's late husband without any risk of bearing new children to whom she might give priority.[18]

Partners of two-spirits did not receive any special recognition, although some believed that after having sexual relations with a two-spirit they would obtain magical abilities, be given obscene nicknames by the two-spirited person which they believed held "good luck," or in the case of male partners, receive a boost to their masculinity. Relationships between two "two-spirited" individuals is absent in the literature (with the sole exception of the Tewa tribe).[19] As male-bodied two-spirits regarded each other as "sisters," it is speculated that it may have been seen as incestuous to have a relationship with another two-spirit.[20]

It is known that in certain tribes a relationship between a two-spirit and non-two-spirit was seen for the most part as neither heterosexual nor homosexual (in modern day terms) but more "hetero-gender," Europeans however saw them as being homosexual. Partners of two-spirits did not experience themselves as "homosexual," and moreover drew a sharp conceptual line between themselves and two-spirits.[21]

Although two-spirits were both respected and feared in many tribes, the two-spirit was not beyond reproach or even being killed for bad deeds. In the Mojave tribe, for instance, they frequently became medicine persons and were likely to be suspected of witchcraft in cases of failed harvest or of death. They were, like any other medicine person, frequently killed over these suspicions (such as the female-bodied two-spirit named Sahaykwisā).[22] Another instance in the late 1840s was of a Crow male-bodied two-spirit who was caught, possibly raiding horses, by the Lakota and was killed.[23]

According to certain reports there had never been an alternative gender among the Comanche.[24] This is true of some Apache bands as well, except for the Lipan, Chiricahua, Mescalero, and southern Dilzhe'e.[25][26] One tribe in particular, the Eyak, has a single report from 1938 that they did not have an alternative gender and they held such individuals in low esteem, although whether this sentiment is the result of acculturation or not is unknown.[27][28]

It has been claimed that the Iroquois did not either,[24] although there is a single report from Bacqueville de la Potherie in his book published in 1722, Histoire de l'Amérique septentrionale, that indicates that an alternative gender existed among them (vol. 3, p. 41).[29] Many, if not all, tribes have been influenced by European homophobia/transphobia.[30][31][32][33][34][35]

It has been claimed that the Aztecs and Incas had laws against such individuals,[36][37][38] though there are some authors who feel that this was exaggerated or the result of acculturation, because all of the documents indicating this are post-conquest and any that existed before had been destroyed by the Spanish.[34][39] The belief that these laws existed, at least for the Aztecs, comes from the Florentine Codex. According to Dr Nancy Fitch, Professor of History at California State University, Fullerton,

There is evidence that indigenous peoples authored many codices, but the Spaniards destroyed most of them in their attempt to eradicate ancient beliefs. ... The Florentine Codex is unquestionably a troubling primary source. Natives writing in Nahuatl under the supervision of the Spanish Fray Bernardino de Sahagún apparently produced the manuscript in the 1500s. The facts of its production raise serious questions about whether the manuscript represents the vision of the vanquished or of the colonizers ... colonization of the natives’ minds loomed large in the Spanish project ... To make matters worse, while it appears that the original manuscript was completed in Nahuatl some time around 1555, no evidence of it remains. Authorities in New Spain confiscated his manuscripts in 1575, and at various times, the Spanish monarchy ordered him to stop his work. The earliest known version of the manuscript is, thus, Sahagún’s summary of it written in Spanish. In 1585, he published a revised version of the codex, which, he argued, corrected some errors and integrated some things ignored in his earlier summary. Sahagún’s revised version is the manuscript commonly known as the Florentine Codex.[40]

— Nancy Fitch, The Conquest of Mexico Annotated Bibliography

Media depictions

The 1970 western film Little Big Man, directed by Arthur Penn, stars Dustin Hoffman as a white man who is adopted into a Cheyenne group in the mid-1800s. The film features a character named Little Horse (played by Robert Little Star) who is biologically male but wears female clothing and identifies as a woman. The Cheyenne accept Little Horse as a "hee-man-eh," a class of persons who are neither traditionally male or female. While Hoffman's character is initially wary of Little Horse and rejects her sexual overtures, the two eventually form a close friendship.
Self-identified Two-Spirits

Alec Butler[41]
Chrystos[42]

See also
Portal icon Indigenous peoples of North America portal
Portal icon LGBT portal
Portal icon Transgender portal

Anima and animus
Cogender
Gender roles in First Nations and Native American tribes
List of transgender-related topics
The red road
Two-Spirit identity theory
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Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?


"When I was young man I did some dumb things and the elders would talk to me. Sometimes I listened. Time went by and as I looked around...I was the elder".

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