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Oh_Kay

Native Americans and Gender

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Oh_Kay

I read some posts about Native Americans and gender. I think it was in Sandra Lux's introductions as she lists herself as twin spirit. I found some interesting material about Native American beliefs and gender that you may find interesting:

 

The Native American belief is that some people are born with the spirits of both genders and express them so perfectly. It is if they have two spirits in one body. Some Siouan tribes believed that before a child is born its soul stands before The Creator, to either reach for the bow and arrows that would indicate the role of a man or the basket that would determine the role of a female. When the child would reach for the gender-corresponding hand, sometimes The Creator would switch hands and the child would have chosen the opposite gender’s role and therefore casting its lot in life.

Native Americans traditionally assign no moral gradient to love or sexuality; a person was judged for their contributions to their tribe and for their character. It was also a custom for parents to not interfere with nature and so among some tribes, children wore gender-neutral clothes until they reached an age where they decided for themselves which path they would walk and the appropriate ceremonies followed. The Two Spirit people in pre-contact Native America were highly revered and families that included them were considered lucky. Indians believed that a person who was able to see the world through the eyes of both genders at the same time was a gift from The Creator. Traditionally, Two Spirit people held positions within their tribes that earned them great respect, such as Medicine Men/Women, shamans, visionaries, mystics, conjurers, keepers of the tribe’s oral traditions, conferrers of lucky names for children and adults (it has been said that Crazy Horse received his name from a Winkte), nurses during war expeditions, cooks, matchmakers and marriage counselors, jewelry/feather regalia makers, potters, weavers, singers/artists in addition to adopting orphaned children and tending to the elderly. Female-bodied Two Spirits were hunters, warriors, engaged in what was typically men’s work and by all accounts, were always fearless.

Traditional Native Americans closely associate Two Spirited people with having a high functioning intellect (possibly from a life of self-questioning), keen artistic skills and an exceptional capacity for compassion. Rather than being social dead-enders as within Euro-American culture today, they were allowed to fully participate within traditional tribal social structures. Two Spirit people, specifically male-bodied (biologically male, gender female) could go to war and have access to male activities such as the sweat lodge. However, they also took on female roles such as cooking, cleaning and other domestic responsibilities. Female bodied (biologically female, gender male) Two Spirits usually only had relationships or marriages with females and among the Lakota, they would sometimes enter into a relationship with a female whose husband had died. As male-bodied Two Spirits regarded each other as “sisters,” it is speculated that it may have been seen as incestuous for Two Spirits to have a relationship with each other. Within this culture it was considered highly offensive to approach a Two Spirit for the purpose of them performing the traditional role of their biological gender.

 

From: https://indiancountrytoday.com/archive/two-spirits-one-heart-five-genders-9UH_xnbfVEWQHWkjNn0rQQ

From: 

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Sandra_Lux

Thank you Kay, very interesting. I love, that these human beings were seen as something special, not a freak of nature. Wish it would be like that for all of us, who are between genders or on the transition!

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Suzanne1

Interesting article.  Certainly it has a pronounced anti-Christian bias which seems to equate European colonialism with Christianity.  Always seemed to me that colonialism played out between the indigenous peoples and the colonizers pretty much the same, regardless of whether the colonizers were Christian. In situations where the indigenous people were Christian, non-Christian colonizers treated them no better than in the converse situation.  

 

The article kinda left me w/ the impression that there were lots of tribes w/ the "Two Spirit" traditions.   

 

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Suzanne1

Ooops...sorry, somehow after a new post came into the thread, I guess I somehow hit the submit button???

 

Anyway, I don't think that the Two Spirit tradition was as common as the article implies.  Certainly, y in the tribes that had such a tradition were those that roamed the Great American Desert  The Eastern Woodlands' tribes----I kinda don't think it was so common, but I will comment on the Cherokee, which I know best.  To my knowledge there is no historical record documenting a Two Spirit Tradition.  It's my understanding that there's not really much of an oral tradition either (which isn't surprising, considering the Cherokee developed their own system of writing (i.e., the so-called "talking leaves").  The only reference that I have seen to a Two Spirit tradition amongst the Cherokee was secondary to the interviewer fishing for such an answer from the interviewees.  Now w/ re: to Women Warriors, yes w/o question; there is documentation in the historical record of the English finding women outfitted for battle amongst the dead after battles w/ the Cherokee.  Not surprising, the Cherokee were a matriarchical society---up until a point, during our early colonial history. 

 

I have read about the Two Spirit folks occupying an honored place in tribal society, but that was not universal.  One text I read contained interviews of Indian elders who recalled what they remembered re: the treatment of such Two Spirit Individuals.  The interviews reported ridicule, harassment and rape, which was tolerated/accepted by the tribe (sorry, I forget which tribe; it's been a long time since I read that text).  It was reported that some individuals killed themselves secondary to the abuse/shame. 

 

Again, interesting article.  Even if it wasn't completely, totally accurate, there seems to be enough truth there for it to be a nice feel-good piece that has some basis in reality.

 

Best wishes.

 

 

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VickySGV

Canadian First Nation people and the more U.S western plains Native American tribes were the ones who recognized the Two Spirit persons, I have a very distant relation (6 generations ago) with one of the tribes who did honor their Two Spirit members.  The more eastern and southern tribes did not give any specific place to cross gender people partly because they did not have the rigid gender roles that the Europeans did.  I visited on one reservation near the Canadian border and I was wearing a woman's top and windbreaker with hair a bit long, and was introduced to a minor shaman, whom I had a pleasant talk with for a few hours about what he saw as my gender diversity.  I am a bit too far out of the blood to claim Two Spirit status although I have participated in Spirit Circles as a welcome member by several people with more actual NA blood and spiritual teaching than I have.  Tribes in the area of Mexico and south of there also did not specifically have the Two Spirit groups but also were more tolerant of gender diverse tribal member than the European customs.

 

Many North American tribes actually were taken with most parts of Christianity since many of their spiritual  traditions had characters very much like the ones in Christianity, but with a big difference in that they did not believe in the Christian Original Sin or the devil as such.  They saw it as man's own self will that ran amok and that distanced him from his tribe and neighbors. 
 

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Carolyn Marie
5 hours ago, Suzanne1 said:

.  Anyway, the Indians fed the French psychedelic concoctions & dressed them in women's garments.  After a time, they used the Frenchmen as concubines.]

 

Suzanne, do you have a source for this anecdote? 

 

Carolyn Marie

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Carolyn Marie

I once knew a man from Guatemala who was of Mayan ancestry.  I asked him about the Two Spirit belief, and he said that Mayans didn't have such a belief in their culture.  I don't think its consistent among North American Native American cultures either.

 

Carolyn Marie

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KathyLauren

In Canada, the "LGBT..." alphabet soup acronym is almost always written to include "2S" for the two-spirit people.  For example, "LGBT2SQIA+"

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