Two-Spirit Peoples’ Struggle

“Two-spirited people have a long history with most of Turlte Island’s First Nations.  Before first contact with the Europeans, First Nations people across Turtle Island recognized the special people given the responsibility of carrying two-spirits.  Very often, we were the visionaries, healers, the medicine people.  2-Spirits were respected as vital parts of the societies of our ancestors.  There are individuals documented in our history, men who dressed as women and took husbands and of great women warriors who took wives and carried the bow.

Sometimes it meant a dream.  A young woman who dreamt of warriors’ or hunters’ weapon would know her course.  Young boys who preferred the company of women, cooking instead of going on the hunt, were also born for a different reason than most.  People did not interfere with this. Indeed, this was within the realm of the wisdom of the Creator.  The Great Mystery creates all beings for a reason, and two-spirited people are no exception.

The Europeans who came to Turtle Isalnd 500 years ago armed with their Bibles, had already in their history attempted to kill their speacial people on a mass level (with the rise of Christianity, pagan religions came under attack as they also had room for lesbians and gay men and were very much earth and women centred).  As much as our cultures and peoples came to be viewed as less than human, and in need of salvation, so the two-spirited people, the powerful people, were used as examples of our inferiority and brutality and a directed conscious attempt was made towards the eradication of two-spirited people.

Today, modern Euro-western society views us as dykes, fags, perverts and queers.  In the Aboriginal community, many of our people have adopted these negative attitudes and many two-spirited people have been ostracized from their own communities.  However, we as two-spirited people are determined to reclaim our rightful place within the circle of all Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal lesbians and gay man, berdache, Winkte, 2-Spirits, Ogokwe, we are not going away.  We’ve always been here and we will always be here as long as there are Aboriginal people.”

– from “We Are Part of a Tradition” by 2-Spirits of the 1st Nations


IPSMO Events:
• 17 October 2009: Panel Discussion on Queer Struggles and Economic Crisis, as part of the Organizing For Justice conference

• Realize racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia in Canadian society
• Educate ourselves and others on institutional and systemic racism against Indigenous peoples, especially two-spirited people.
• Organize and/or attend anti-oppression workshops
• Acknowledge our privileges and differences in power structure.  Use our privileges and power to empower Indigenous peoples, especially two-spirited people to have their voices heard
• Hold police and politicians accountable on the unsolved cases of missing or murdered two-spirited people.
• Realize oppressions in the current political and economic systems and do our best not to contribute to these oppressions in our daily life
• Understand the history of colonization, treaties and the oppressive nature of Indian Act
• Fulfill the responsibilities we have under the Treaties that have been made with Indigenous peoples.
• Know our roles and responsibilities, educate Indigenous and non-Indigenous people about their responsibility to protect one another.

• TWO SPIRITS: Sexuality, Gender, and the Murder of Fred Martinez
• A Litany of Struggle: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde, by Ada Griffin and Michelle Parkinson
• Coming Out, Coming Home by API Family Pride
• In the Name of Allah by Parvez Sharma
• Long Eyes of Earth by Lawrence Brose
• Two-Spirit People by Michel Beauchemin, Lori Levy, Gretchen Vogel
• Honored by the Moon by Mona Smith by Mona Smith
• XY: Drag by Robin E. Deisher
• Gay Cuba by Sonja de Vries

• Violent Victimization and HIV Among the Native LBGT/Two Spirit Community
• Addressing Homophobia in relation to HIV/AIDS in Aboriginal Communities

• Reclaiming Choice for Native Women by Jessica Yee
• Speaking from the Heart: I Have HIV
• Native + Sex = Strong, Sexy, Powerful, and Unapologetic

• The Zuni Man-Woman by Will Roscoe
• Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Gender in Native North America by Will Roscoe
• Two-spirit people: Native American gender identity, sexuality, and spirituality by Sue-Ellen Jacobs, Wesley Thomas, Sabine Lang
• Two spirit people: American Indian, lesbian women and gay men
• Becoming two-spirit: gay identity and social acceptance in Indian country, by Brian Joseph Gilley

• Links to the US Two Spirit Organizations
• Native Youth Sexual Health Network:
• 2-Spirits of the 1st Nations:
• Minwashiin Lodge, Aboriginal Women’s Support Centre:
• Police Violence and Native Communities
• Prisoners AIDS Support Action Network