A Two Spirit person is a male-bodied or female-bodied person with a masculine or feminine essence. Two Spirits can cross social gender roles, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Since Europeans arrived in the Americas, they’ve documented encounters with Two Spirit people. In many tribes, Two Spirit people were accepted and respected. However, that changed with colonization. The colonizers, through forced assimilation efforts, changed acceptance into homophobia in many indigenous communities.
Traditionally, Two Spirit persons were often name givers, match makers, medicine people, holy people, peace-makers, mediators, warriors, adoptive parents, and much more. Their roles also varied greatly from tribe to tribe. Within most tribes there is a term, in their language, to describe a Two Spirit person. A sample of these terms can be found at the NativeOut website (an organization that provides American Indian/Alaska Native Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender educational resources, multi-media and news.)
Video clip from the PBS series Independent Lens, called “The Changing Ones: a Two-Spirits Companion”
“A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder” by Ma-Nee Chacaby & Mary Louisa Plummer
“The Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in American Indian Culture” by Walter L. Williams
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