Smithsonian Voices post

In June 2021, I contributed an article to the Smithsonian Voices site about LGBTQIA+ Pride and Two Spirit people. Instead of speaking abstractly about Two Spirit people, I wanted to interview Two Spirit people about their experiences and how they celebrate Pride. Many thanks to Geo Socomah Neptune, Neebinnaukzhik Southall, James Abler and Terry Johnson II, and Alray Nelson for speaking to me.


“The term Two-Spirit originated in 1990 by Myra Laramee (Cree) at the Third Annual Inter-tribal Native American, First Nations, Gay and Lesbian American Conference in Winnipeg. It is a translation of “niizh manidoowag” or “two spirits” in the Anishinaabe language. While Native people might use the terms gay, lesbian, or transgender, Two-Spirit is a term created by Native people for Native people. More people are becoming familiar with the term, and there are Two-Spirit events across North America, including the annual Two-Spirit Powwow in San Francisco. This Pride Month, I interviewed Native people from various tribal communities about being Two-Spirit and how they celebrate that identity…

“Johnson, as a member of Zuni Pueblo, grew up with stories about We’wha (1849-1896), the well-known Zuni lhamana (the term in the Zuni language). As Johnson explained, “We’wha was valued [at Zuni] for being both male and female and was a weaver, potter, took care of the children, gathered wood. We’wha did everything.” Johnson likes the term Two-Spirit, because “the Creator gifts people with one breath of life but gifted us with two breaths.”

Read the full article at:

“We Are Not Separate from Our Communities: LGBTQIA+ Pride and Two-Spirit People,” Smithsonian Voices (online), 23 June 2021.


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