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2SLGBTQIA+ people in the indigenous nations of North America (Turtle Island)
List of books, documentaries and articles about 2SLGBTQIA+ people in the indigenous societies of Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Niizh Manitoag (Ojibwe)
The term Two-Spirit was coined in 1990 at the third annual Native American/First Nations Gay and Lesbian Conference in Winnipeg. Two-Spirit comes from the Ojibwa words niizh manitoag (two-spirits).
Words to describe up to six different gender variants, beyond the binary of male and female, have been found in 155 indigenous nations of North America. The Cree, for example, refer to them as Aayahkwew (“neither man nor woman”)… To help individuals determine the gender they were drawn towards, rites of passage were often used.
Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things (Inuit)
The documentary gets its name from the English translation for the equivalent Inuktitut words for lesbian ("two soft things rubbing together") and gay ("two hard things rubbing together")
Muxes in Oaxaca
In Juchitán, a city in the state of Oaxaca 700 kilometers southeast of Mexico City, being … a muxe is considered as natural as being a man or a woman.
"I'm muxe because I'm neither a woman nor a man. I am a man who has the thoughts of a woman," says Darina.
Pre-Hispanic cultures in Mexico either, allowed, glorified, despised or killed those who engaged in acts of homosexuality, which doesn’t bear a lot of contrast with the actions of modern society. While … the Zapotecs, celebrated sexual diversity and even recognized a third gender, the dominating Aztecs of the Valley of Mexico emphasized masculinity and severely punished acts of sodomy.
Nádleehí (Navajo/ Diné)
At one time, our people also acknowledged a third or multiple genders in our society— who are often called the nádleehí.
Fred Martinez was nádleehí, a male-bodied person with a feminine nature, a special gift according to his ancient Navajo culture… In Navajo culture, there are four genders; some indigenous cultures recognize more.
“Winkte,” in the Lakota language, literally means “a male-bodied person who speaks like a woman.” ... Traditionally, Winkte take on special spiritual or leadership roles, like naming young children, resolving disputes or praying for the sick.
From a Yupik account recorded in 1979, retold in this article by ethnographer Bernard Saladin D'Anglure:
When a man with a moustache is dressed like a woman, we are careful not to make fun of him, as instructed by our elders. The elders would say that such people were protected by the Maker of All. So to laugh at him would bring a curse to the thoughtless ones. So when we see a man dress like a woman he is showing respect to his nature and we are not to laugh at him or hurt his feelings.
And many more nations
Roscoe reveals that rather than being ostracized or forced into obscurity, berdaches were embraced by some 150 tribes, serving as artists, medicine people, religious experts, and tribal leaders.
LGBT Native Americans wanting to be identified within their respective tribes and not grouped with other races officially adopted the term "Two Spirit" from the Ojibwe language in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1989. Each tribe has their own specific term … Hemaneh (half man, half woman) in Cheyenne, to name a few. As the purpose of "Two Spirit" is to be used as a universal term in the English language, it is not always translatable with the same meaning in Native languages.
Reclaiming Two-Spirits - Winner of the 2023 Prose Award in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology
Sweetheart Dancers (2019) - documentary about a Two Spirit couple Adrian (Northern Ute, Shoshone-Bannock, and San Carlos Apache) and Sean Snyder (Navajo and Southern Ute) who compete in powwow dance contests. Directed by Ben-Alex Dupris of the Colville Confederated Tribes.
Pure Grit (2021) – documentary about Sharmaine, an indigenous bareback horse racer from the Wind River reservation (home to the Eastern Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho tribes), who tries to balance her commitment to family and her career on the racetrack, with the support of her girlfriend Savannah.
Being Thunder (2021) – documentary about competitive dancer Sherenté, a Two Spirit Genderqueer teenager from Rhode Island's Narragansett tribe.
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