Tag Archives: Two-Spirit

A Two-Spirit Couple Breaking Barriers on the Rez…And Off

“In the summer of 2019, at Minnesota’s Prairie Island Indian Community, photographer and filmmaker Tomás Karmelo Amaya took a portrait of a couple kissing while wearing colorful regalia. The couple, Nevada-based dancers Adrian Matthias Stevens and Sean Snyder, were visiting the reservation to dance in the Tinta Wita Wacipi powwow, a tradition that brought them together — and a tradition in which they are now making history.”J. Palumbo, CNN, February 3, 2021

Adrian Matthias Stevens and Sean Snyder in their own beadwork. Brass work by Jeremy Dial. Photo- Ceylon Grey


Excerpt: The Native American couple redefining cultural norms — By Jacqui Palumbo, CNN, February 3, 2021

Stevens, who is of Northern Ute, Shoshone-Bannock and San Carlos Apache heritage; and Snyder, who is of Southern Ute and Navajo heritage, are a Two-Spirit couple that have been together for seven years. Within North American Indigenous communities, Two-Spirit refers to people who possess both masculine and feminine spirits, but it can also be used to represent LGBTQ+ Indigenous people more broadly.

Adrian Matthias Stevens and Sean SnyderPhoto- Tomás Karmelo Amaya

‘It’s not biological, it’s spiritual, and it ties back to what I was taught growing up,’ Stevens told Vogue in 2020. ‘My aunties recognized me as a Two-Spirit individual way before I even recognized it.’

Through his images of the pair, Amaya shows their bond and the beauty of their movement. When Stevens and Snyder met, they were both dancers on Utah’s powwow circuit but it took years for them to perform couples routines — called ‘sweetheart specials’ — together.

Adrian Matthias Stevens and Sean Snyder in their own beadwork. Brass work by Jeremy Dial. Photo- Ceylon Grey

That category was exclusively performed by male and female dancers until 2018, when they became the first Two-Spirit pair to do so, after being disqualified from a dance the year prior.

‘Because our styles are so different, we had to find a way to dance together,’Snyder is quoted as saying in Vogue. ‘And for us being two men, it was surprisingly difficult. You don’t grow up going to dances and learning to dance with another same-sex partner. We had to learn how to lead and how to take direction.’

Since then, their routines and matching regalia — each embellished with their own handmade beadwork — have brought them widespread attention.”

Celebrating Gay Pride Month:

Frank Kameny

Franklin Edward Kameny (May 21, 1925 – October 11, 2011) was an American gay rights activist. He has been referred to as “one of the most significant figures” in the American gay rights movement. n 1957, Kameny was dismissed from his position as an astronomer in the U.S. Army‘s Army Map Service in Washington, D.C., because of his homosexuality, leading him to begin “a Herculean struggle with the American establishment” that would “spearhead a new period of militancy in the homosexual rights movement of the early 1960s”. Wikipedia

Category: Culture, Pow Wows, Social | Tags: ,

‘Two Spirit’ Is Not An Interchangeable Term for ‘Gay’

“When attempting to explain the concept of Two Spirit people in Indian country, many people may visualize images of Unicorns and Rainbows, Donna Summers and Seventies disco balls. Try to explain the concept of Two Spirit outside Indian country, and you may as well throw in war bonnets and glitter. The term Two Spirit has been present in Native communities for countless generations that predate LGBTQ terminology.” T. Enos ICTMN

Tony Enos at Oceti Sakowin in front of the Two-Spirit Nation camp.

Excerpt: …Things You Should Know About Two Spirit People By Tony Enos, ICNM

For generations, Two Spirit Native culture went underground to avoid detection and persecution.Today the Two Spirit movement has been negatively affected by rumor, gossip, the tyranny of western religion, and an all-around lack of information.

Here are [some] misconceptions and/or things you should know about Two Spirit people that may help foster a better understanding of the Two Spirit community.

Two Spirit is not a contemporary ‘new-age’ movement-While the term Two Spirit was coined in 1990 In Winnipeg, Canada as a means of unifying various gender identities and expressions of Native American/First Nations/Indigenous individuals, the term is not a specific definition of gender, sexual orientation or other self-determining catch-all phrase, but rather an umbrella term.

A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder BY Ma-Nee Chacaby

Gay is not an interchangeable term with Two Spirit-Being a gay native is oftentimes confused with being Two Spirit. While the two may have parallels and intersections, they are not the same. Gay specifically is about attraction to a person of the same sex. Two Spirit is more about the embodiment of two genders residing within one person.

The Two Spirit Road is a road of long held traditions, prayer and responsibility-Living as a Two Spirit is not all pride parades and hot pants. To be of service to our elders and youth with our very particular medicine is paramount. If we lose our traditions, our songs, our medicines, and our languages, and make no effort to restore what was lost, we doom ourselves.

Two Spirits

Two Spirit people held significant roles and were an integral part of a tribal social structures-Two Spirit people held a meaningful place in the sacred hoop.  In many tribes Two Spirits were balance keepers.

Making Connections

Two Spirit is a term only appropriate for Native people-Two Spirit is a role that existed in a Native American/First Nations/Indigenous tribe for gender queer, gender fluid, and gender non-conforming tribal members.”

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