TWO SPIRIT NAVAJO ORIGIN by Jae Burbank

TWO SPIRIT NAVAJO ORIGIN by Jae Burbank

Jae Burbank
After the Pulse Club shooting in Orlando and the passing of a distant cousin Jason J’adore James I wanted to contribute, share something positive, something uplifting with my LGBT Navajo brothers and sisters. Please share with your friends, brother, sister anyone whom you feel would benefit from this, because it’s time..!

Two Spirit Navajo origin, history etc., some of us LGBT Navajos know it to the root, some very little, some not at all. Well this is for those of you whom know nothing at all because no one ever told you. For the parents whom didn’t know either, maybe this will help you to love your child and help guide them.

When I started the Gay Straight Alliance at Dine College in 2005 I didn’t start it willie nillie or on a whim. I had to plan it out, strategize and talk to important people to get it going because I wanted to do things right. It wasn’t easy at all because it was an unprecedented student organization at Dine College AND on the Navajo Nation for that matter.

Our existence didn’t start with the separation of the sexes, we existed from the start.

Our Origin, the truth, the Q and A I had with the medicine men at Dine College: First Woman and First Man had twins, boy and girl, so First Boy and First Girl: First Boy was Nadleeh and First Girl was Dilbaah. As explained to me by Harry Walters and others in this day and age they would’ve been considered gay and lesbian. Separation of the sexes: Nadleeh helped the men and young boys survive on one side of the river. Dilbaah helped the women and young girls survive on the opposite side of the river. Nadleeh were amazing weavers, artist, medicine men etc., Dilbaah were the only women allowed to become medicine women at a young age because they didn’t bare children, they were warriors, hunters and leaders etc.

Some of our Medicine Men and Women don’t share that truth unless you ask them, but there are some whom aren’t afraid to share the whole truth of our origin story. The ones that don’t like to share that part of our origin, from their perspective, they have to admit that we exist for a reason and that scares them, because when they see more of us that only means that Navajo way of life is in upheaval, that nothings right. From their perspective and as history tells it we come into existence to fix and put things back in balance. We are the epitome of duality and because of that duality we exist to hold onto culture, history, spirituality and in their words to restore, perfect, change things and make Navajo society whole again.

Lets not forget our oldest of elders our grandmothers and grandfathers. They know who we are, they have never been afraid of us. Although we are losing that generation we can always say that we were loved unconditionally by them.

Doing things right before starting GSA: I spoke to as many medicine men at the college as I could. The ones I could find, the ones that were recommended because they wouldn’t be afraid to share more or the truth. I had to get the facts right so that I had something to stand on, so that GSA could exist.

What gave me a swift kick in the ass to start GSA was by reading an article written by Phoenix New Times called The Crying Game. It broke my heart, filled me with anguish and a bit of anger not at the people in the article but the reason why their story was being told. My heart and my mind wouldn’t allow for things to continue on as they have. Something had to be done to steer our lives, our reason for existence in another direction. One person can’t change everything, but its gotta start somewhere right..!?

Within the Navajo Tribe we have spiritual leaders, we have scholars, we have educators in far more influential positions to share our two spirit history/existence. I think some have tried, some have done a poor job of it or done nothing at all to share the whole truth of our history, our existence in Navajo culture. I think some have only shared whats on the surface and nothing deeper.

Harry Walters was the museum director at the college. He was one of my first GSA advisors and it was from him that I learned about two spirit Navajos. It was my first culture class with DC and he was the professor. When he spoke about two spirit Navajos I felt a sense of freedom, I might have gotten teary eyed, a weight lifted off my shoulders, a hurt that began to subside because I learned who I was and where I came from. I existed, I had a place among my own people.

I’m sharing this because some of our young brothers and sisters don’t know who they are. They don’t realize how special they truly are, how beautiful they truly are. When we pray and sing our beautiful songs we are singing much closer to ourselves when we mention First Boy and First Girl.

I hope this changes someones life. I share this to help bring you back to your true self. You are not alone, you have been living for thousands and thousands of years, you are First Boy or First Girl.

I want to thank Native Brothers, Native Out, Rainbow Naatsiilid Program for their efforts and to Radmilla Cody for being an amazing ally and for speaking out.

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