Date: January 29, 2015
by Sara Susanna Moore,
Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) Volunteer Media Coordinator
On Saturday February 20th, 2016, the fifth annual Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit (BAAITS) Powwow will be held at Herbst Pavilion in Fort Mason, San Francisco, California, from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM with featured dancers making their Grand Entry at 12:00 PM and 7:00 PM. This event is free and open to the public. It is the only Two-Spirit powwow in the world open to the public, and the largest.
“Two-Spirit” is a Native American term for people with both female and male energies. Two-Spirits may (or may not) also identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. Two-Spirits often held—and many still hold— honored positions in their traditional Native American and First Nations communities. “Two-Spirit” is a pan-tribal term—it is rooted in the Anishnaabe term describing such individuals: “niizh manidoowag.” This translates literally as “two spirits.”
In the Two-Spirit nature of the event, the powwow will feature — instead of just the traditional two Head Dancers, male and female— three Head Dancers, representing men, women, and other genders.
BAAITS Chairperson Roger Kuhn (Poarch Creek) says, “This year, we have youth head dancers for the first time.” Kuhn added, “The reintegration of Two-Spirit people into the broader Native community is part of our mission, so this is an important step.”
There will be another notable event at the powwow. Kuhn continued, “We have a Two-Spirit person, Gabe Castilloux, who is journeying all the way from western Québec to our powwow to do their ‘coming out’ ceremony as a grass dancer, a male dance style. They’ve danced jingle dress, a female dance style, their whole life, and have wanted to dance as a grass dancer for a long time, but their local community doesn’t allow it.”
There are many powwows in my area that don’t allow Two-Spirit people at all: if they come, they get asked to leave, so it’s difficult around here to do this ceremony. I’m so excited to journey southwest to see you all and be surrounded by incredible people and do ceremony with everyone. I’m counting down the days.
Kuhn emphasized, “The Two-Spirit powwow was originated to bring all Two-Spirits back into the circle.” At this powwow all Two-Spirits and LGBTQ people and their allies from all over the U.S. and Canada get a chance to come together to celebrate Native culture, build community, and express themselves in traditional and nontraditional ways .
The powwow will also be honoring straight ally Richard Moves Camp, an Oglala Lakota medicine man and elder from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Moves Camp, a longtime supporter of the Two-Spirit community, led a healing and reconciliation ceremony last winter focused on mending rifts between the straight Native community and the Two-Spirit and LGBTQ Natives who they had excluded over the years.
The three adult Head Dancers for the powwow will be:
Santa Clara, California-born Marc Eyslee Keka-Goggles (Three Bulls) is an enrolled member of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes of Anadarko, OK, and descendant member of the Otoe Tribe of Red Rock, OK. He received a Bachelor of Social Work from New Mexico Highlands University in 2012. Marc has served as Vice Chairman of the American Indian Public Charter School and Powwow Club instructor for the Native American Community Academy in Albuquerque, NM, among other Nativeleadership roles.
Hailing from Canada, Alicia Star-Peters represents the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, Gitdumden (Bear Clan) Grizzly House. Alicia graduated with honors in Aboriginal Leadership from the Justice Institute of British Columbia (BC). She currently works with at-risk youth at the Am’ut Residential Treatment Center in Chilliwack, BC, and is an activist for missing and murdered aboriginal women including the Highway of Tears murders. She is also an activist in support of wild salmon (Wild Salmon Warriors) and aboriginal rights.
New York-based Ty Defoe (Giizhig), represents the Oneida and Ojibwe tribes of Wisconsin. Ty won a Grammy for work on “Come to Me Great Mystery: Native American Healing Songs,” and an NEA award grant for work on “Drum is Thunder, Flute is the Wind,” and recently co-directed “Crane on Earth, in Sky,” a puppetry show at LaMaMa Theatre in NYC. He is on the Youth Council of the East Coast Two-Spirit Society. He has degrees from CalArts, Goddard, and NYU.
The youth Head Dancers will be:
For host drums, the BAAITS powwow will feature Southern Pride, the host Southern Drum for this and the previous four powwows. This drum group will be traveling to the Bay Area from Jay, Oklahoma. The group’s members are Two-Spirit singers and drummers and their families.
Vendors will be on site selling frybread, buffalo burgers, Native art and jewelry, and other wares to the expected crowd of over 3,500. The Native American Health Center will also be in attendance providing free health screenings. This powwow features contest dances; all powwow dancers and drums are welcome.
About the event
When: February 20, 2016, 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Where: Herbst Pavilion, Fort Mason, 2 Marina Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94115
Parking: Pay lot on site, limited free street parking off site
Who should attend: Everyone is welcome. This is a family-friendly, clean and sober event. Street attire is encouraged. Please leave costumes at home.
This event is wheelchair-accessible.
Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) is a community-based volunteer organization offering culturally relevant activities for Native Americans identifying as Two-Spirit and their allies.
Contact: Aidan Dunn, Powwow Committee Co-Chair, Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS), email@example.com