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New York, NY: Birds, LLC, 2006.
IRL asks, what happens to a modern, queer indigenous person a few generations after his ancestors were alienated from their language, their religion, and their history? Teebs feels compelled towards “boys, burgers, booze,” though he begins to suspect there is perhaps a more ancient goddess calling to him behind art, behind music, behind poetry.
Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona, 2016
In Cherokee Asegi udanto refers to people who either fall outside of men’s and women’s roles or who mix men’s and women’s roles. Asegi, which translates as “strange,” is also used by some Cherokees as a term similar to “queer.” For author Qwo-Li Driskill, asegi provides a means by which to reread Cherokee history in order to listen for those stories rendered “strange” by colonial heteropatriarchy.
Ma-Nee Chacaby & Mary Louisa Plummer
University of Manitoba Press, 2016.
“A Two-Spirit Journey” is Ma-Nee Chacaby’s extraordinary account of her life as an Ojibwa-Cree lesbian. From her early, often harrowing memories of life and abuse in a remote Ojibwa community riven by poverty and alcoholism, Chacaby’s story is one of enduring and ultimately overcoming the social, economic, and health legacies of colonialism.
Ma-Nee Chacaby has emerged from hardship grounded in faith, compassion, humour, and resilience. Her memoir provides unprecedented insights into the challenges still faced by many Indigenous people.
Beverly Little Thunder,
as told to Sharron Proulx-Turner
Toronto, Ontario: Inanna Publications, 2016.
ONE BEAD AT A TIME is the oral memoir of Beverly Little Thunder, a two-spirit Lakota Elder from Standing Rock, who has lived most of her life in service to Indigenous and non- Indigenous women in vast areas of both the United States and Canada. Little Thunder established the first and today, the only all-women’s Sundance in the world, securing a land base in the Green Mountains of Vermont for future generations of Indigenous women’s ceremony. She was active in the A.I.M. movement and she continues to practice and promote political and spiritual awareness for Indigenous women around the world. A truly remarkable visionary.
Andrew J. Jolivette
University of Washington Press, 2016.
The first book to examine the correlation between mixed-race identity and HIV/AIDS among Native American gay men and transgendered people, Indian Blood provides an analysis of the emerging and often contested LGBTQ “two-spirit” identification as it relates to public health and mixed-race identity.
Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota. 2014.
With a new and more inclusive perspective for the growing field of queer Native studies, Lisa Tatonetti provides a genealogy of queer Native writing after Stonewall. Looking across a broad range of literature, Tatonetti offers the first overview and guide to queer Native literature from its rise in the 1970s to the present day.
Throughout, she argues that queerness has been central to Native American literature for decades, showing how queer Native literature and Two-Spirit critiques challenge understandings of both Indigeneity and sexuality.
Sandra Slater (Editor) & Fay A. Yarbrough (Editor)
Charleston, SC: University of South Carolina, 2011.
Gender and Sexuality in Indigenous North America, a collection of essays organized chronologically spanning 1400–1850 that probe gender identification, labor roles, and political authority within Native American societies. The essays are linked by overarching examinations of how Europeans manipulated native ideas about gender for their own ends and how indigenous people responded to European attempts to impose gendered cultural practices at odds with established traditions.
Various authors, editors include Qwo-Li Driskill, Daniel Heath Justice, Deborah A. Miranda, and Lisa Tatonetti
Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona, 2011.
Follow up to the landmark collection of writings: Living the Spirit: A Gay American Indian Anthology, this collection strives to reflect the complexity of identities within Native Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Two-Spirit (GLBTQ2) communities. Gathering together the work of established writers and talented new voices, this anthology spans genres (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and essay) and themes (memory, history, sexuality, indigeneity, friendship, family, love, and loss) and represents a watershed moment in Native American and Indigenous literatures, Queer studies, and the intersections between the two.
Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona, 2011.
Based on the reality that queer Indigenous people “experience multilayered oppression that profoundly impacts our safety, health, and survival,” this book is at once an imagining and an invitation to the reader to join in the discussion of decolonizing queer Indigenous research and theory and, by doing so, to partake in allied resistance working toward positive change.
Scott Lauria Morgensen
Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, 2011.
Spaces between Us argues that modern queer subjects emerged among Natives and non-Natives by engaging the meaningful difference indigeneity makes within a settler society explaining how relational distinctions of “Native” and “settler” define the status of being “queer.” Native people live in relation to all non-Natives amid the ongoing power relations of settler colonialism, despite never losing inherent claims to sovereignty as indigenous peoples.
New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011.
When Did Indians Become Straight? explores the complex relationship between contested U.S. notions of normality and shifting forms of Native American governance and self-representation. Examining a wide range of texts (including captivity narratives, fiction, government documents, and anthropological tracts), Mark Rifkin offers a cultural and literary history of the ways Native peoples have been inserted into Euramerican discourses of sexuality and how Native intellectuals have sought to reaffirm their peoples’ sovereignty and self-determination.
Winnipeg, Manitoba: Turnstone Press, 2008.
In she walks for days inside a thousand eyes (a two spirit story), Sharron Proulx-Turner combines poetry and history to delve into the little-known lives of two-spirit women. Regarded with both wonder and fear when first encountered by the West, First Nations women living with masculine and feminine principles in the same body had important roles to play in society, as healers and visionaries, before they were suppressed during the colonial invasion. The author restores the reputation of two- spirit women that had been long under attack from Western culture as she re-appropriates the lives of these individuals from the writings of Western anthropologists and missionaries. Proulx-Turner creates a new kind of epic as she bears witness to the past. With gracious concern for tradition, and sly, soaring language, she retells a vital chapter from the First Nations, and Canadian, story.
Lori B. Girshick
Hanover, NH: University of New England, 2008.
In this extraordinary book, based on 150 in-depth interviews, Lori B. Girshick, a sociologist and social justice activist, brings together the voices of sex- and gender-diverse people who speak with absolute candor about their lives. Girshick presents transpeople speaking in their own voices about identity, coming out, passing, sexual orientation, relationship negotiations and the dynamics of attraction, homophobia (including internalized fears), and bullying. She exposes the guilt and the shame that “gender police” use in their attempts to exert control and points out the many ways transpeople are discriminated against in daily life, from filling out identification documents to gender-segregated bathrooms.
Brian Joseph Gillley
Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska, 2006.
Becoming Two Spirit provides an intimate view of how Two-Spirit men in Colorado and Oklahoma struggle to redefine themselves and their communities speaking frankly of homophobia within their communities, a persistent prejudice that is largely misunderstood or misrepresented by outsiders. The men give detailed accounts of the ways in which they modify gay and Native identity as a means of dealing with their alienation from tribal communities and families. They demonstrate their creativity in the communities they build with one another, the development of their own social practices, and a national network of individuals linked in their search for self and social acceptance.
Craig S. Womack
Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2001.
Drowning in Fire, a groundbreaking and provocative coming-of-age story, explores a young man’s journey to understand his cultural and sexual identity within a framework drawn from the community of his origins, the Muskogee Creek Nation in rural Oklahoma. This story interweaves the past and present, history and story, explicit realism and dreamlike visions, Drowning in Fire is a vividly realized novel by an impressive literary talent.
Lester B. Brown
New York: Haworth, 1997.
Two Spirit People is the first-ever social science research exploration into the lives of American Indian lesbian women and gay men. Editor Lester B. Brown posits six gender styles in traditional American Indian culture: men and women, not-men and not-women (persons of one biological sex assuming the identity of the opposite sex in some form), and gays and lesbians. He brings together chapters that emphasize American Indian spirituality, present new perspectives, and provide readers with a beginning understanding of the place of lesbian, gay, and bisexual Indians within American Indian culture and within American society.
Sue-Ellen Jacobs, Wesley Thomas, and Sabine Lang
Urbana, IN: University of Illinois, 1997.
This landmark book combines the voices of Native Americans and non-Indians, anthropologists and others, in an exploration of gender and sexuality issues as they relate to lesbian, gay, trans-gendered, and other “marked” Native Americans. Focusing on the concept of two-spirit people – individuals not necessarily gay or lesbian, transvestite or bisexual, but whose behaviors or beliefs may sometimes be interpreted by others as uncharacteristic of their sex – this book is the first to provide an intimate look at how many two-spirit people feel about themselves, how other Native Americans treat them, and how anthropologists and other scholars interpret them and their cultures.
Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico, 1991.
The Zuni Man-Woman focuses on the life of We’wha (1849-96), the Zuni who was perhaps the most famous berdache (an individual who combined the work and traits of both men and women) in American Indian history. Through We’wha’s exceptional life, Will Roscoe creates a vivid picture of an alternative gender role whose history has been hidden and almost forgotten.
Austin, TX: University of Texas, 1998.
READER BEWARE: Sabine Lang, is white person attempting to explain indigenous culture within the context of white western thinking. Don’t be fooled by the author’s scholarly authoritarian voice as she purports to provides an objective, comprehensive study of Native American women-men and men-women across many tribal cultures and an extended time span. Sabine Lang is a foolish white European woman who tries to explore such topics as their religious and secular roles; the relation of the roles of women-men and men-women to the roles of women and men in their respective societies; the ways in which gender-role change was carried out, legitimized, and explained in Native American cultures; the widely differing attitudes toward women-men and men-women in tribal cultures; and the role of these figures in Native mythology. Lang’s supposed findings attempt to attack the gender equality of the “berdache” institution, as well as the universality of concepts such as homosexuality.
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.
In Changing Ones, Will Roscoe opens up and explores the world of tribal third (& fourth) gender beings, revealing meaningful differences between Native American culture and contemporary western civilization. Rather than being ostracized or forced into obscurity, third genders were embraced by some 150 tribes, serving as artists, medicine people, religious experts, and tribal leaders. Indeed, Roscoe points out, these beings were sometimes even occupied a holy status within the tribal community. Roscoe uses the term ‘berdache’ which was used by academic scholars to reference Native American individuals who embodied both genders – what some might classify as ‘the third sex.’ The third (or fourth) gendered human beings were known to combine male and female tribal societal roles, defying and redefining traditional notions of gender-specific behavior. Roscoe begins with case studies, blending biography and ethnohistory, and he builds toward theoretical insights into the nature of gender diversity in North America. What results is highly engaging, readable, and illuminating. Changing Ones combines the fields of anthropology, sociology, queer theory, gay and lesbian studies, and gender studies to challenge conventional schools of thought.
Various Authors, Will Roscoe, Editor
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1988.
Living the Spirit non-academic collection writings and historical information. It is divided into two sections, the first half gives a more historical account of indigenous 3rd & 4th gender human beings through a collection of short essays about people in specific tribes, as seen in primary sources from European and American explorers during their early exposures to these tribes. Most of these essays are accompanied by pictures, either drawings or photographs taken at the time of these encounters or soon thereafter. There are twelve different Native American tribes represented in these essays and illustrations, covering all regions of North America. “Ever Since the World Began” is a collection of myths and tales from ten different tribes involving their cross-gender members or icons.
The second half of the book is a collection of autobiographical essays, short stories, and poems written by contemporary-to-1988 gay Native Americans; though written in the context of contemporary times, they often reference family histories that discuss life on the reservations in the mid-1900s if not before, and the struggles that gay Native Americans faced then and now as their tribal culture has changed, taking on the values of the European and American culture.
Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books, 1988.
A Gathering of Spirit: A Collection of Writing and Art by North American Indian Women was the 1st published collection of Indigenous women’s writing in North America, as well as the first anthology edited by an aboriginal woman.
The book was edited by Mohawk author and anthologist Beth Brant. It was first published in 1983 as a special issue of the lesbian literary magazine Sinister Wisdom. The collection was subsequently published in 1988 by New York’s Firebrand Books, and republished in 1989 by Women’s Press in Toronto, Ontario. The anthology featured literary contributions from women aged 21–65, both lesbian and heterosexual, and representing 40 native nations.
Paula Gunn Allen
Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1986.
The Sacred Hoop is a collection of 17 essays representing more than a decade of cultural research by Two Spirit author and scholar Paula Gunn Allen. Allen challenges five centuries of misconceptions surrounding the role of Native American women in many “pre-contact” tribal societies; misconceptions the author contends have ” . . . transformed and obscured what were once woman-centered cultures. . . .”
In her first section, “The Ways of Our Grandmothers,” Allen explores the relationship between female creation deities and their teachings and the pre-eminent status of women as creators and teachers of the rituals and laws that defined tribal consciousness, and the significance of mother and grandmother in Native American culture.
Allen also probes the effects of “colonization” by Western society and suggests that the degradation of female tribal status, indeed, the dehumanization of native people as a whole in American history, was not coincidental but imperative to the dissolution of tribal unity and identity. That ” . . . fragile web of identity . . . has gradually been weakened and torn. But the oral tradition . . . has prevented the complete destruction of the web . . . it heals itself and the tribal web by adapting to the flow of the present while never relinquishing its connection to the past.”