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Two-Spirit is the Anglicized term for the North American indigenous cultures used to define Transgender or gender variant people. The French based term was Berdache. Starting in the eighties there was an embracing of the Two-Spirit concept in the LGBT community. This showed the pervasiveness of LGBT across multiple cultures. The essential problem with this embrasure is that as Transgender became more visible in this century, mostly due to the internet, the realization that the LGB  have to be shoehorned into the definition of two spirit. So despite being so prominent in LGBT literature prior to 2000 two spirit has hardly been explored online.

I started an internet search for two spirit and was saddened to find such sparse results. But that isn't surprising, economically the First Nations people in this country can't afford computers much less recurring data charges. So how could they share with us the wealth of knowledge that is their culture? There are ways to help. One way is making sure basic needs are met like food:

Okiciyap (we help) Food Pantry
 P.O. Box 172
 Isabel,  SD  57633
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Okiciyap Quilt 2013  third row right block
Please, support the Okiciyap Quilt Auction by making a bid or a donation.  All funds will go directly to Okiciyap Food Pantry and Youth Center in Isabel South Dakota, which is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  

Here is a link to IGive which supports the pantry while you shop online by having your retailers donate a percentage of each sale.  IGive

Ironically the Sioux are frequently mentioned to describe how cultures on this continent recognized Transgender persons in a text on patriarchy and agriculture. But finding much out about what must have been a diverse culture in these tribes is challenging. The list of terms below from so many tribes attests to the pervasiveness of two spirit culture.
Foraging (Hunter/Gatherer) societies tend to be mixed with equitable power distributions. In fact one of the most enjoyable and fascinating aspects is how incredibly plastic gender taboos & roles tend to be in these small scale nomadic societies. For instance in Sioux tribes in North America entering the role of "two spirit"(what we would call transgender) was considered to be a rare, and sacred aspect.
Here is someone demonstrating two-spirit in Oglala Sioux in the video below. What I find more interesting is the only comment to the video. A comment disputing the term used which means language was developed to address the traits in multiple forms.

Hmmm... The question was wrongly inderstood. Naǧí núŋpa is literal translation from English, and means "two spirits". But as far as I understand, you wanted to know the word for "gay, homosexual", which is quite often expressed as "Two-spirit" in Native American context. But the term is of Ojibwe origin, and is not used in the Lakota language.The Lakota term is wíŋkte, which means "he tends to be a woman"

Just looking at this list gives me hope we are soon to learn much more.

Native American Tribes' Words to Describe Their Two-Spirits |

NOTE: An asterisk ( * ) after a term denotes information gleaned from the various pages linked to "A Dictionary of Words for Masculine Women" by Gary Bowen, and is not to be taken as factually as the other terms listed below since Gary is not a Native American nor an archeologist, anthropologist or ethnologist.

Acoma :
         mujerado ("womaned") or qo-qoy-mo ("effeminate person") or kokwina ("men-women")

Aleut :
         achnucek [shupan, according to Sabine Lang] (male)

Anishnawbe :
         ougokweniini (male)

Arapaho :
         haxu'xan (male)

Assiniboine :
         win'yan inkwenu'ze winktan (male)

Atsugewi :
         yaawa (male) and brumaiwi * (female)

Bella Coola :
         sx'ints (male)

Blackfeet :
         Aki-Skassi (male) and Aki kwan ("woman-man") or sakwo'mapi akikiwan* (female)
[Note: Blackfeet is not the same tribe as Lakota (Blackfoot)]

Cheyenne :
         hee-man-eh or he'emen (male) and hetaneman (female)

Chukchi (Alaskan
Bering Straight) :
         yirka-la ul

Cocopa :
         elha (male) and warhameh * [warrhameh, according to Sabine Lang] (female)

Coeur d'Alène :
         st'amia ("hermaphrodite")

Crow :
         boté [bate, according to Sabine Lang] (male)

Dakota (Santee) :
         winkta (male)

Dakota Sioux :
         koskalaka* (male) and koskalaka winyan* or winkta* or winkte winyan* (female)

Eskimo (Chugach) :
         aranu'tiq (male)

(St. Lawrence) :
         anasik (male) and uktasik (female)

Flathead :
         ma'kali or me'mi or tcin-mamalks ("dress as a woman") (male) and ntalha* (female)

Fox :
         i-coo-coo-a (male)

Hawai'ian :
         Mähü or mahu [also in Polynesia and Tahiti; cf Fa'afafine]

Hidatsa :
         miati ("to be impelled against one's will to act the woman") or biatti

Hotcâk :
         dedjángtcowinga ("blue lake woman") (male)

Hopi :
         hova (male) [na'dle ("being transformed") (male), and nadle (female), re Sabine Lang]

Huchnom :
         iwap kuti

Illinois :
         ikoueta (male) and chelxodelean(e)* or ickoue ne koussa* (female)

Isleta :

Juaneño :

Kaniagmiut :
         shupan [?]

Keres :
         kokwimu (male)

Klamath :
         tw!inna'ek (male and female)

Kodiak :

Kutenai :
         tupatke'tek ("to imitate a woman") (male) and titqattek* (female)

Laguna :
         mujerado (man-woman [?]) or kokwimu or kokwe'ma (male)

Lakota (Blackfoot) :
         wintke [derived from "winyanktehca"] ("two-souls-person" or "to be as a woman") (male);
[Note: Lakota (Blackfoot) is not the same tribe as Blackfeet]

Lakota (Ogala) :
         winkte (male) and winkte winyan* (female)

Lassik :
         murfidai ("hermaphrodite") (male)

Luiseño :
         cuit or cuut

Maidu :
         suku (male and female)

Mandan :
         mihdacke [mihdäckä ("mih-hä" means "woman"), according to Sabine Lang] (male)

Maricopa :
         ilyaxi' (impolite) or yesa'an (polite; "barren man or woman") (male) and kwiraxame'* (female)

Miami :
         waupeengwoatar ("the white face") (male)

Miwok :
         osabu ("osa" means "woman") (male)

Mohave :
         alyha: (male) and hwame: or hwami (female)

Navajo :
         nadle ("being transformed") or nadleeh or nádleehí (male and female);
dilbaa’ or nadleeh baa* (female)

Nomlaki :
         walusa ("hermaphrodite") or tohket ("boy who goes around the women all the time")

Ojibwa :
         agokwa ("man-woman" or "split testicles") (male) and okitcitakwe* (female)

Omaha :
         mexoga or mixu'ga ("instructed by the moon") or minquga ("hermaphrodite") (male)

Oto :
         mixo'ge (male)

Paiute, Northern :
         Tübas or t'üBáse or moyo'ne or tüBázanàna (polite) Düba's ("sterile person") (male);
Düba's or Moroni noho Tüvasa (female)

Paiute, Southern :
         Tüwasawuts or maipots or onobakö or töwahawöts or Maai'pots (male)

Patwin :
         Panaro bobum pi ("he has two (sexes)") (male)

Piegan :
         ake'skassi ("acts like a woman") (male);
ninauposkitzipspe* ("manly-hearted woman," "female 'berdache'") (female)

Pima :
         wiik'ovat ("like a girl") (male)

Plains Cree:
         a:yahkwew or a-yahkwew (male)

Pomo, Northern :
         das ("da" means "woman") (male)

Pomo, Southern :
         t!un (male)

Ponca :
         misu'ga or morphodite ("hermaphrodite") (male)

Potawatomi :
         m'netokwe ("manito" plus a female suffix) (male)

Quinault :
         keknatsa'nxwixw ("part woman") (male)

Salinan :
         joyas (Spanish for "gem" or "jewel") (male)

Sanpoil :
         sinta'xlau'wam* (female)

Sauk :
         i-coo-coo-a (male)

Shasta :
         gitukuwaki (male)

Shoshone :
         tennewyppe or tená-wipeh (male)

Shoshoni :
         tainna wa'ippe* (male) and sungwe* or taikwahni wa'ippe* or waippu* (female)

Shoshoni (Bannock) :
         tuva'sa ("vasap" means "dry") (male)

Shoshoni (Gosiute) :
         tuvasa (male)

Shoshoni (Lemhi) :
         tübasa ("sterile") or tenanduakia ("tenap" means "man") (male);
Tübasa tenanduakia waip:ü sunwe ("woman half" [?]) (female)

Shoshoni (Nevada) :
         tuyayap or tubasa'a ("half man, half woman")
or tangwu waip ("man-woman") or waip: sinwa ("half woman") (male);
nüwüdüka ("female hunter") or tangowaip or tangowaipü ("female") (female)

(Promontory Point) :
         tubasa waip ("waip" means "woman") (male)

Sioux :
         winkte (male) [cf Dakota Sioux]

Tewa :
         kwidó or kweedó or kwidõ (male) and senp'aa* (female)

Tiwa :
         lhunide (male)

Tlingit :
         gatxan ("coward") (male)

Tübatulabal :
         huiy (male)

Ute :
         tozusuhzooch (male)

Ute (Southern):
         tuwasawits or tuwasawuts (male)

Wailaki :
         clele (male)

Winnebago :
         shiánge ("eunuch" or "unmanly man") (male);
dedjángtcowinga ("blue lake woman") (male)

Wishram :
         ikte'laskait (male)

Yana :
         lo'ya (male)

Yokuts (Kocheyali) :
         tonoo'tcim ("undertaker") (male)

Yokuts (Michahai) :
         tono'cim (male)

Yokuts (Paleuyami) :
         tono'cim (male)

Yokuts (Tachi) :
         tonochim or lokowitnono (male)

Yokuts (Wakasachi) :
         tai'yap (male)

Yokuts (Yaudanchi) :
         tongochim (male)

Yuki :
         i-wa-musp ("man-woman") or iwap-naip ("man-girl") or iwop-naiip ("men-girls") (male);
musp-iwap naip* (female)

Yuma :
         elaxa (male) and kwe'rhame* or kurami* (female)

Yurok :
         wegern (male)

Zapotec :
         muxe, muxhe, muxé [pronounced moo-SHAY], or ira’ muxe (male)

Zuni :
         lhamana (male and female) and ko'thlama (male) and katsotse (female)

? :
         aranaruaq (male) and angut-n-guaq (female)

? :
         keknatsa'nxwix (male) and tawkxwa'nsix (female)

? :
         osha'pu (male)

There is some evidence these examples will not remain in isolation.

2nd Annual Two Spirit Pre-Powwow Potluck

Originally posted to Okiciyap (we help) on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos Quilt Guild Auction Alliance, Community Fundraisers, DK Quilt Guild, Angry Gays, Milk Men And Women, TransAction, Barriers and Bridges, Positive Intention and Lovingkindness, Native American Netroots, and Invisible People.

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