Two-Spirit

Though the term Two-Spirit is not always a term associated with all Indigenous people across America. It is a term created in 1990 at the Indigenous Lesbian & Gay International gathering in Winnipeg, Canada. The term was used under the umbrella Acronym of LGBTQ. (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer) This was put into place to defer from the offensive term Berdache. A French word used to identify LGBTQ indigenous peoples of North America before 1990. Two-Spirit was to describe the Identity of indigenous people who had traditional roles in their tribes. These roles in some tribes we’re ceremonial and social roles. They were recognized as “visionaries, healers, medicine People, nannies of orphans and care givers.” whom are now invisible to some tribes of their own and remain displaced by Western Christianity (Laframboise and Anhorn.) Their quest to gain economic superiority, geographical advantage and religious purity ended the sacred place belief of the “Two-Spirited.” The sexually uninhibited beliefs of American Indians were shamed and deemed barbaric and at god’s mercy if they did not stop immediately. (Hans Stadden) (P18)

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"Our place in the Circle is just as important as any other in our community. This includes safety and protections for all!"
-Asoonax Harolds

Hand stitched quilt to honor the LGBTQ and Two Spirit that are Missing and Murdered

Hand stitched quilt to honor the LGBTQ and Two Spirit that are Missing and Murdered

Culture

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Gender variation a variety of other traits distinguished two spirit people from men to women, including temperament, dress, lifestyle, and social roles. Most indigenous communities have specific terms in their own languages for gender-variant members of their communities and their social and spiritual roles these individuals fulfil; with over 500 surviving Native American cultures, attitudes about sex and gender can be very diverse. Even with the modern adoption of pan-Indian terms like two spirit, not all cultures will perceive two spirit people the same way, or welcome a pan-Indian term to replace the terms already in use by their cultures. The disruptions caused by conquest and disease, together with the efforts of missionaries, government agents, boarding schools, and white settlers resulted in the loss of many traditions in Native communities. Two spirit roles, in particular, were singled out for condemnation, interference, and many times violence. As a result, two spirit traditions and practices went underground or disappeared in many tribes. Today, Lesbian, gay, Bisexual, and transgender native people throughout North America are reviving the two spirit role and its traditions. National gatherings of two spirit people have been held since the early 1990’s, and regional gatherings are held in many parts of the country.

Resources

Relevant Websites

Laframboise, Sandra and Michael Anhor. "Dancing to Eagle Spirited Society."
http://www.dancingtoeaglespiritsociety.org/twospirit.php

Indian Health Services the fedral Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives
http://www.ihs.gov/lgbt/health/twospirit/

Trisha Gill Minority Rights Gay Native Americans Before and after the Conquest
http://www.columbiauniversitylibrary.edu