Two Spirit People: a Time When the World Was not Divided Into Male and Female

[In some early native American societies, those who identified as Two Spirited were respected as spiritual leaders within the tribe. They dressed in both men’s and women’s clothing, and they often served special roles such as storytellers, counselors, and healers.

Two Spirit traditions were threatened, though, when Europeans colonized the Americas. The notion of a third, fluid, male-and-female gender conflicted with the colonizers’ heterosexual views, and in 1879, the U.S. government removed thousands of Two Spirited people from their tribes. They were sent to live in an Indian boarding school. Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was the flagship Indian boarding school in the United States from 1879 through 1918. Founded in 1879 by Captain Richard Henry Pratt under authority of the US federal government, Carlisle was the first federally funded off-reservation Indian boarding school, according to Dickinson College historical records in Pennsylvania.

Today, views of Two Spirits vary among the more than 800 tribes in the United States and Alaska. Depending on a community’s adherence to religious traditions, Two Spirits may be respected in one tribe but not recognized in another community.]

Read the full story | INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY

Also…

1 TWO SPIRITS

In many Native American tribal societies, it was not uncommon for some men to live as women and some women to live as men. In this land, the original America, men who wore women’s clothes and did women’s work became artists, ambassadors, and religious leaders, and women sometimes became warriors, hunters and even chiefs. Same-sex marriages flourished. Berdaches—individuals who combine male and female social roles with traits unique to their status as a third gender—have been documented in more than 150 North American tribes. By looking at this aspect of non-Western culture, Roscoe challenges the basis of the dualistic way most Americans think about sexuality, and shakes the foundation of the way we understand and define gender.

 

Read more athttp://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/01/13/two-spirit-trials-and-tribulations-gender-identity-21st-century-158686
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