Native Diva: Keeping and Transcending Traditions

“Renowned basketry artist George Neptune (Passamaquody) takes us on a Two Spirit journey just in time for June’s national LGBTQ+ Pride Month as he introduces the world to his drag-queen alter ego Lyzz Bien in an effort to create safe, more accepting spaces for Two Spirits across Indian Country.” T. Walker, Nativepeople

Lyzz Bien/George Neptune. Photo- website

Lyzz Bien: George Neptune’s alter ego. Photo- website

“Lyzz Bien, the drag-queen alter ego of George Neptune (Passamaquoddy), comes alive as soon as she tosses one of her many wigs into place.

George Neptune Creating his baskets.

George Neptune Creating his baskets. Photo: Neptune website.

Lyzz is when that male spirit totally just gives up control. My whole persona changes—my body language, mannerisms, talk. It’s a complete and total transition, says Neptune, 27. She’s her own person. She loves the spotlight.

Lyzz Bien. Photo facebook

Lyzz Bien. Photo facebook

As the nation prepares to celebrate LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and the rest of the gender identity spectrum) Pride Month in June, Neptune hopes to bring more awareness to Two Spirit gender identities by stepping Lyzz fully into that spotlight with the help of big names in Indigenous fashion and design, including B.Yellowtail by Bethany Yellowtail (Crow/Northern Cheyenne), Patricia Michaels (Taos Pueblo), and Decontie & Brown by Jason and Donna Brown (both Penobscot), among others.

Celebrate Pride 2016 in Bar Harbor, Maine, with Lyzz Bien on Sunday, June 12 at 6 p.m.

Bar Harbor celebration

Basketry is a big part of [Wabanaki] culture. In our creation story, it says that we were created from the brown ash tree, which we use to make baskets,” Neptune says. So it’s a sacred art form, because we’re using the same material we were created from and creating other things from it. As basket makers we are creators ourselves.

George Neptune's Baskets Photo- Neptune website

George Neptune’s Baskets Photo- Neptune website

So Neptune weaves strips of sacred brown ash and other materials to create vessels that help preserve and promote his Passamaquoddy culture. It should come as no surprise, then, that weaving together Indigenous fashion and gender identity does the exact same thing.”

Beautiful Baskets by George Neptune.Photo: website

Beautiful Baskets by George Neptune.Photo: website

“Weaving has always been a very spiritual experience for me. Using the same techniques my ancestors did brings me to a time and place that my ancestors also visited, so for me it’s like we are all weaving together.” ~ George Neptune~

Category: Culture