Talk:Two-Spirit

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1[edit]

Is this specifically male-bodied trans or is it both? In contemporary western terms, is this only MTF or does the term also include FTM?

Please Wikipedia:Sign your posts on talk pages. Thanks. Hyacinth 04:47, 13 May 2005 (UTC)
Anyone know why the above edit is the only edit in this talk page's history yet is not marked with an N for new page? Hyacinth 04:47, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

This article needs to be expanded to include the whole constellation of social behaviors associated with a winkte. It is not just a sexual thing. See Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions by John Fire Lame Deer. I'll get back to this article as soon as I can. 金 (Kim) 18:56, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

The term "queer" has strong perjorative and offensive overtones in the U.S.A. If the Lakota term has such connotations it would be okay. Otherwise, it should be changed to something like "gay" or "homosexual" for NPOV. Light Orlanu Brecker 07:20, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Russell Means' comments on appropriation[edit]

In 1995, Russell Means made some comments in a lecture (transcribed at his web site) indicating that he was upset with cultural appropriation of the "winkte" concept and by inappropriate performances by cross-dressing gay men at pow-wows. Is this an issue of current debate or note in the Native American and/or gay communities? If so, it is probably worthy of mention in the article. Perhaps someone with more knowledge than I have could write about this. GeoGreg 05:25, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

2007-02-10 Automated pywikipediabot message[edit]

--CopyToWiktionaryBot 08:49, 10 February 2007 (UTC)


Confusing[edit]

I think it should be made clear that there is a lot of confusing information in this article as it now stands. It has a very Eurocentric anthropological view. I would encourage folks to look at the work done by Indigenous, Two-Spirit identified folks, such as Terry Tafoya, Beatrice Medicine, and Wesley Thomas rather than rely on the information here.

The idea that most if not all Native American and Canadian First Nation peoples had the concept of two-spirit people seems questionable. There was an immense range of cultures and languages across the continent. I suspect that this kind of homogenizing generalization isn't supported by studies that pay closer attention to the individual, indigenous cultures of the US and Canada. It all sounds too much like facile statements about "the Western Mind" or "the Arab Soul" or "the Oriental Mentality" or "the Native American Closeness to Nature." Generalities rather than generalizations.Interlingua 06:16, 12 February 2006 (UTC)

The Navajo term is nádleeh ~ nádleehé (nominalization in -é "the one who..." of the iterative of a verbal root meaning "to turn; become; emerge", i.e. "permanently changing", read: "emergent"). Plural marking on nouns is not obligatory. Where did the info come from that the term would not take -ké as in 'at'ééké "girls" but (probably -?! or what else might have been meant?) form an irregular plural such as dine'é? The form is, btw, the very same as in 'Asdzą́ą́ Nádleehé "Changing Woman".

There indeed maybe some sort of convergence nowadays, as the two-spirit movement in a narrower sense is a neotraditionalist innovation that partly seems to be incompatible to traditional horribile dictu berdachism ("two-spiritedness" ironically in some traditional cultures would quite uncharmingly relate to stuff concerning blackmagic, undead and such).

Indeed, the phenomenological range of two-spiritedness (in the modern, wider sense) in various cultures is enormous. (Which hopefully should also become clear from delving into the vast amount of literature that is available.) There mere fact that (also in other parts of the world) there are more than 2 sex (and I consciously choose not write "gender", as a sex/gender distinction as in Angloamerican culture is anything but universal) categories, and that even a taxonomic, hierarchical ordering of such categories may occur, is not to too telling.

Heike B. 11:06, 11 Apr 2006 (CEDT)

Time[edit]

Bunches of edits, to dispell the notion that two-spirit is an old concept, that all two-spirits are male, and that being a two-spirit implies men acting as women (rather than a man-woman acting as a man-woman, regardless of anatomy). Ronabop 10:11, 21 Jun 2004 (UTC)

The article still needs a lot of work regarding "Two-Spirit", the modern concept or gender-role, and its historical sources in both American Indians' conceptions of gender roles and the intrusion of European influenced gender roles.
For instance: "These individuals are often viewed as having two spirits, and two sexes, at the same time. Their dress is usually mixture of male and female articles. They have distinct gender and social roles in their tribes. For instance, there was one ceremony during the Sun Dance that was performed only by a member of this group."
Only the last sentence is in past tense, because it is describing a pre-Two Spirit gender-role and activitiy.
I suggest we break the article in two large sections, pre-TS [Two-Spirit], and TS [Two-Spirit].
Hyacinth 20:29, 1 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Pre-TS and TS? What exactly is that supposed to mean? Contemporaty and historical is a possible distincion, or pre-colonialisation or something, but pre- and post-TS mean exactly nothing, because I don't think that there is any reasonable relation to a particular medical diagnosis. Not to mention that most "modern" people who call themseves "two-spirit" are not transsexual in the first place. -- AlexR 22:28, 1 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Sorry, TS = Two-Spirit. Hyacinth 06:01, 2 Jul 2004 (UTC)
OK - but this does not make too much sense, either - what is supposed to be pre-Two-Spirit and (post-)Two-Spirit? I guess you mean something like historical and modern, but I take that guess from what you wrote, the words do not make much sense to me - or is it just me, and I am a bit slow here? Also, I don't think that splitting the article would make much sense, as far as I know many two-spirited people particularly wish to continue the old tradition; and both articles would be rather short, too. The article itself should simply have two headings, currently, I think this would be sufficient. Just my 2 cents. -- AlexR 10:02, 2 Jul 2004 (UTC)

So, we agree that the article should have two sections, one about pre-colonial __________, and one about colonial and post-colonial two spiritedness.


--- Deleted this section: "Today, groups of cross gendered male bodied persons have picked up the tradition of the two-spirit and put them into practice. These groups include the Radical Faeries, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and others" because it is a misnomer to name non-Native groups "Two-Spirit." The Radical Faeries and Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence draw on European, not First Nations traditions, and the use of "Two-Spirit" to speak of non-Native people is usually considered offensive.


I disagree that this should have been deleted. There are non-Natives using the term for themselves. Whether or not they 'should' do so is another issue. I'd instead expect that Wikipedia include this reference, even if there is a notation that to the effect that 'this may not be seen as apropriate by Native Americans'. (Though a digression, my use of 'Native American' is another example of allowing people to choose the names they use for themselves.)

Also, I believe that the concept of "Two-Spirit" is not as pervasive among Native Americans as is implied. (I had never heard of this phrase or nor the particular concepts directly related to it until in an academic situation.) I do not intend to say that the concept is inapplicable for all Native American traditions, however. I will suggest that concepts of strict gender role have never had a real analogue among at least Creeks.

I totally agree with the above and put it back again. especially because this article is also part of the LGBT. To make the distinction between 'Native' and 'Europan' more clear I'll say 'use the notion of 'two spirit'and build upon that'--Eezie 01:31, 7 February 2007 (UTC) --

Rather than splitting this article into two, it might be better to indicate that US/Western-style achetypical gender roles have not existed as a complete system among many Native American traditions -- I'm avoiding using 'tribe' or 'nation' to avoid other semantic/diction/political problems. I'd suggest that generally roles -- whether currently classed in US society as roles of gender, religion, politics, medicine, psychology, what-have-you -- come to exist as the need for such roles come about and that the people appropriately suited for them are available to fill such roles. When the people and/or need for the roles no longer exist then the roles are no longer filled.

In less abstract terms -- and to couch it in terms that more easily fit US/Western gender roles -- when soldiers are needed, the most physically capable rise to fill that need; likewise when tender caring is needed those able to provide that step forward. It would generally be accepted, then, that should there be a person that can do both, they do do both without question by others in the society because that person is merely 'doing what they do' (and consequently providing the best possible for the society).

I would then explain the etymolygy of 'Two-Spirit' (I have no idea which language is the source of this English translation). (I have to wonder if this term in English was put forth by a non-Native academic researcher, but I digress...) Finally I would explain that both some Native Americans who would be classed as 'Queer' or 'Trans' (i.e. 'Transsexual' or 'Transgender') in the commonly-held US/Western society and some non-natives are using the 'Two-Spirit' to describe themselves, though they may maintain different meanings for the term.

Note that I would not split the ideas as pre/post-invasion (aka pre/post-colonial) or historical/current. Native American people, cultures, ideas are indeed extant, though their essential elements are not brought out in the commonly-held US/Western society.

--

Making diction edits, particularly to remove the use of 'braves' as this is another inappropriate usage. mossymosquito 21 Jun 2005

There indeed is no universally consistent terminology that people would apply to themselves and others. Of course, they do know both traditional and anglo (two-spirited person, homosexual, transsexual etc.) terms (and there indeed are both — still very viable — traditional as well as modern, neotraditionalist concepts around), but in talking to you they probably will pick what they think you might understand best. You also should be prepared to them being discreet and respectful. If you talk too long and too much about someone absent, you might end up like my former assistant who talked to the bundle keeper's sister about my "queer activities" — until getting the reply: "I saw that. To me she's a person." You also shouldn't get on the nerves of "TS" consultants, unless you want to risk a harsh response like the ethnographer who tried to interrogate Kinipai... Heike B. 11:48, 11 Apr 2006 (UTC)

Removed terms[edit]

  • Blackfeet
    • Male: Aki-skassi
    • Female: Aki-Gwan

I removed the above terms as there is no source and no indication of which group called "Blackfeet" uses those terms. It is not the Blackfoot of the Blackfoot Nation located in Montana. Hyacinth 20:20, 1 Jul 2004 (UTC)

See http://www.nwtwospiritsociety.org/history.html Ronabop 12:47, 24 Jul 2004 (UTC)

The article linked to above doesn't specify any more than the wikipedia article does.

  1. See: Blackfoot. WHICH Blackfoot group uses the terms?
  2. According to Bruno Nettl (1989) there is no documentation of MTF (for lack of a better term) Two-Spirit folks, while there are well documented FTM or "manly hearted women".

Hyacinth 22:30, 25 Jul 2004 (UTC)


a'kiikoan ~ aakiikoan, which is probably what was meant by "Aki-Gwan", simply is the word for "girl", composed of a'kii ~ aakii "woman" and -koan "person" (the latter as in siksikakoan "Blackfoot person" etc.). So, sorry, no "manly hearted woman" here. The terms (Siksika A a'kiihka'si "acting like a woman", aawoowa'kii "misaligned woman"), with dialectal variation (Siksika A/B, Kainaa-Piikani A/B/C), are in use with all groups. In case of doubt, you may look up words in Frantz/Russell's dictionary, curricula and researchers' fieldnotes. Heike B.22:25, 10 Apr 2006 (CEDT)

Corn goddess[edit]

Does anybody else question the validity of this statement?

  • "The Hopis used to hold a ritual in which a 16 year old male-bodied two-spirit was dressed as the Corn Goddess. All the men of the village then performed anal sex with this individual in order to bring fertility to the corn crop for the year."

This sounds too much like fabrication to me. See Cornholio; specifically the line: "anal sex, called "cornholing" in some circles (perhaps because of the body's difficulty in properly digesting corn kernels, which often show up almost whole in stool.)"

I could be wrong, of course, but a claim of this nature should be verified. It sounds like a fabrication arising from the typical humorous association between anal sex and corn. If it is indeed just some editors fantasy then leaving it in is disparaging to the the Hopi nation.   —TeknicT-M-C 23:04, 31 August 2005 (UTC)

Since there is no citation, I think it should be removed. If wrong it is probably very offensive to Hopi people. 金 (Kim) 15:34, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
I haven't answered so far, because while I am sure I read that before, I don't remember where. Therefore, deleting it would probably not be appropriate. Also, I fail to see how that is "disparaging" or "offending" the Hopi people, at least any more than any other apocryphical reports (which are not exactly uncommon) -- if the report is wrong in the first place. I don't think that it is appropriate to remove material out of some sense of political correctness just because there is no source given - which is true for about 99% of information in the Wikipedia. -- AlexR 21:10, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
I think it would be very offending to incorrectly state that all Hopi men regularly sodomized 16 year old boys. I realize that most info on WP doesn't cite a source, but everything must either be verifiable or be deleted. (See Wikipedia:Verifiability). I've done a lot of searching myself and have found nothing to back this up. A few months ago I even emailed the Office of Public Relations of the Hopi tribe and asked them but recieved no reply. I couldn't bring myself to call them and ask about this particular subject, but if somebody else wants to try then here's the contact info.   —TeknicT-M-C 03:08, September 2, 2005 (UTC)
Yes, well, your indignation about "all Hopi men regularly sodomized 16 year old boys" is exactly what I mean by political correctness censoring stuff. You know, that sentence betrays such an incredible amount of ignorance that it hurts. "Sodomize" for example is a bit of a loaded word, right. Make sure the act itself carries the same load for Hopis, or don't use it. "Boys" in that context is also a bit tricky. Not to mention that fertility rites may be something very stange to the average modern western person, but they would have - this one, if it took place, or any other one - carried entirely different connotations to those performing them. Most certainly they cannot be linked to sexual abuse of minors, as your edit implies. And that is the problem - you don't even consider looking at the alleged ritual without imposing your moral judgement on it - and then demand content to be removed because of your moral judgement. But, as far as I know, that has never been a reason to remove content, and I don't really see why we should start that now. If Hopi people say it is not true and are offended by it, then by all means, let's remove that. But not because of some pc-ish "I am sure it must offend them". BTW, if you have access to US libraries, there are quite a few books out there on two-spirited people, which could be checked. Being in Germany, this is a bit tricky for me. -- AlexR 10:21, 2 September 2005 (UTC)
Wow, where did all that come from? That was too many unfounded accusations and attacks for me to even know where to start. Actually, your entire statement was so unfounded that I don't feel the need to. However, you did a fine job of avoiding the only important issue, that is Wikipedia:Verifiability. I can assure you that I would be the last person to censor verifiable information and I would appreciate it if you wouldn't jump to conclusions regarding my motives. I would be very pleased to finally be able to verify the claim and so we can leave it in.   —TeknicT-M-C 05:29, September 6, 2005 (UTC)

Ok, I figured out that the anonymous contributor was actually Sister Unity/Bennett Schneider and s/he said that the info was from "The Other Face of Love" by Raymond de Becker.   —TeknicT-M-C 23:16, September 10, 2005 (UTC)

It was part of a large edit [1] of April 2004. In reference to a people fertilizing their crops (and corn was certainly a common crop) through sexual ritual, it's not exactly an uncommon or offensive practice in a fairly wide variety of cultures, so it's non-sensical to think of it as being somehow patently offensive. The apparent source itself (The Other Face of Love) was written back in 1965, and shows up in several University libraries' GLBT collections. I don't have a copy of the text here to check where de Becker sourced it from. Ronabop 03:57, 22 September 2005 (UTC)

Sex and relationships[edit]

I so totally agree and understand the point AlexR is making about the Corn goddess. There is nothing more offensive than denying my sexuality. Is there any evidence for the 'scalp dancing' and why is there no discussion about that? (Not that I mind) Anyway, the original quotation about the corn godess ritual is no longer appropiate in the current text. But as there is evidence, I added 'sexual rituals' to the summary. --Eezie 01:58, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

What about the scalp dancing? You mean the "led scalp-dances" in the article? What do you want to discuss about it? -- WiccaIrish 12:16, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
I don't want to to start discussing the scalp-dancing. The point is that as soon as sex is involved there is a discussion and removal. While bloody or agressive acts are taken for granted. That's a BIG cultural bias. Think of the disgust two men kissing can raise, while a boxing match raises cheers. And see the analogy with the (christian) culturally-biased attitude "You may be gay, as long as you don't act upon it". Don't you think it's odd that there is NO mentioning of Two-spirit people having relationships or sex (with males/ females?) anywhere in the article? Where they a-sexual? Did they (have to) live alone? What form(s) did this part of their lives take? Denying or ignoring of such an important part of a persons life is in my experience the worst form of bigotry. As long as this kind of questions are not answered, this article is incomplete and not NPOV. --Eezie 15:26, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
Just my $.02: I completely agree with you. I couldn't believe it myself that there wasn't anything about sexual practice in this article; imagine if someone from somewhere unfamiliar with "gay" identity were to read an article that ignored sexual practices. And I mean...come on! Wikipedia has close-up photos of erections, century-old pornography, etc., for informative purposes.
One little quibble, though: The Christian prohibition on male-male or female-female sexual contact isn't a "culturally biased attitude." It's a moral teaching of their religion (some denominations, at least), and therefore becomes a part of the culture of communities following that religion. I'm not saying don't say the moral teaching is incorrect, and the rule abhorrent; I'm just saying it's not really a matter of their being "biased."205.212.73.97 16:34, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Thanx to the one(s) who did complete this part of the text. The above comments are no longer 'true', but are still relevant for discussions about Two-Spirit. --Eezie (talk) 00:27, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Artzau, your source?[edit]

Artzau, what is your source for the word "londo" among the Shatt of Sudan? I would like to add it to the list but I need to verify it. -- WiccaIrish 10:36, 21 October 2006 (UTC)

Removed "terms"[edit]

Being bold, I removed the ridiculously long list of terms (uncited) in dozens and dozens of languages. Partly because the article isn't about names for two-spirits in various languages, it's about two-spirits themselves and about the history and ideology behind it all. The list doesn't belong on this page, in my view. If someone wanted to create a new List of names for two-spirits or something like that, they could try, but it would probably be deleted, because Wikipedia is not a dictionary and Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information. These same policies apply to stuff within articles as well, not just entire articles...as far as I'm aware. And in any case, how did the section even really benefit this article at all? It's doesn't really add any relevant, pertinent information to the main topic at hand...

So that's my rationale for removing the section. My apologies if consensus turns out to be wildly against me... --Miskwito 23:06, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

Actually, I added the terms back until others weigh in. Though my opinions remain the same. Maybe the list could be transwikied to Wiktionary? That's really more where this sort of thing is suited for, I think. --Miskwito 23:30, 14 March 2007 (UTC)


You can move the list of words to Wiktionary. I spent a great deal of time expanding that list. The sources that were recommended are the best to consult and the most carefully researched. -- WiccaIrish 10:03, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

2007-03-24 Automated pywikipediabot message[edit]

--CopyToWiktionaryBot 04:40, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Most Nations; Gender; "Modern" TS[edit]

A few small things I noticed of small things I noticed. I apologize if I missed them in a previous discussion:

(1) This sentence jumped out at me for its inappropriateness: Two-spirit people, specifically male-bodied (biologically male, gender female), could go to war and have access to male activities such as sweat lodges. However, they also took on female roles such as cooking and other domestic responsibilities. ...Right there, in the very sentence itself, it explains why it's inappropriate to refer to TS as "gender female" (or "gender male" for biofem TS, I guess).

(2) The intro part about "many, if not most" nations recognizing TS social roles. There doesn't seem to be much in the article to back that up. And, given the enormous cultural differences among American nations, it actually seems a little unlikely. Remember, it isn't just whites who indulge in "they had respect for nature," etc., romantic bullshit and cultural generalizations. We should be on guard against this kind of thing in this article, and avoid wishful thinking. Which brings up...

(3) The list of "modern" TS. The mere fact that they are listed separately from "historical" TS should set off some alarm bells. How many of these folks are just plain old queer Indians? All the "historical" TSs, presumably (I didn't check the links), operated in a specific social role recognized by their particular national culture (roles which, incidentally, did not correspond very well to identities like "gay" or "transgendered," and which certainly weren't about blanket respect and freedom for personal sexual identity in the way we now value being "queer-friendly" and "nonjudgmental"). Do all the "modern" TSs listed belong to nations which maintain a role of this sort today, which they are filling? For at least the first modern listed, the answer would seem to be no; she's Mohawk, who are specifically mentioned in the article for not having a TS role (or at least, for having little evidence of such--and if there's doubt about it in the past, it's pretty damn likely there isn't one now). In any case, she at least seems to "get it": there's no evidence in the linked article that she identifies as anything but a lesbian.

If an Indian is an activist for promoting social tolerance within their nation (This reminds me of another objection: The asininely romantic implication that the white man introduced the American nations to "homophobia" i.e. identity intolerance; it's somewhere in this article, though clearly refuted by other sections), and would like to create and fill a social identity role that's inspired by one found in another American nation (or perhaps in the past of their own nation), then God bless them. God bless even the Indians who really just identify as "gay" or "lesbian," but who are just making an appeal for tolerance and decency in their nation and are invoking the history of "two-spirit" roles to do so. The problem is, this article says nothing, besides the coining of the phrase "TS," about modern Indian history. Anyone who identifies as TS does indeed deserve to be called that in wikipedia (and by society); but, as it stands, the article leaves the impression that they're simply filling the sort of social role within their nation that's described at length in the article. The distinction must be made. -- 205.212.73.97 15:40, 30 May 2007 (UTC)


1. This is not about transsexuality, but more to do with what we may term today as intersexed or "transgender" in general (cross-dressing to even transsexual-like behavior). "Male-bodied" and "female-bodied" make more sense than "genetically male [or female]," "TS," "MtF," "FtM," etc., which are modern terms that could or can be incorrectly applied to these individuals. I take it you're transsexual. Let's not appropriate such individuals and label them all "TS," Gays and Lesbians have done enough of that already.
2. Having read all of the books currently out on this subject, I cannot find a tribe that has explicitly held negative views on these kind of individuals prior to the early 1900s. After this, one cannot overlook the influence from Europeans and Christianity. If you look at the ethnographic reports, the transphobia increases in the early 1900s and reaches its height in the 1940s and 50s. This also coincides with the fact that at this time the disconnect of many tribal members from their traditional ways was at its peak before the civil rights movements (AIM in particular) of the 60s and 70s encouraged many of these indigenous people to reconnect with the old ways of their tribe. If you look at the myths and creation stories of certain tribes during the mid-20th century you can see an influence from Christianity compared to much earlier versions of those same stories. You can never ignore possibilities of acculturation. And yes, there are hundreds of tribes in North America and the differences between tribes can many times be immense. While the argument that this particular "generalization" (your term) is akin to the "noble savage" myth is very wise, it isn't correct. This is why "many, if not most" is used, it certainly does not say "all" or that it assumes such and leaves room for there to be exceptions. With so many different tribes, there's bound to be an exception. This was very much in mind when editing the article.
3. I agree, I believe modern self-identified "two-spirits" should not be included in this article. They may not have been seen as such by their own tribes hundreds of years ago. I removed a list such as that from the article a long time ago but someone reinserted it. -- WiccaIrish 23:21, 31 May 2007 (UTC)
While I agree with most of the above, I wonder about #3. Why are modern two-spirits to be treated any different that historical ones? -- SatyrTN (talk | contribs) 01:02, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Unsurprisingly, it's (3) that I agree with! We may be mostly on the same page here; the biggest part of the misunderstanding here is that wherever I wrote "TS" it was short for "two-spirit." I'd worried a little about the fact that, of course, "transsexual" is the traditional usage, but my laziness won out. In fact, it was the fact that I thought it was a passé label that I figured I could re-appropriate it: I haven't seen the abbreviation too much in print lately; and most people who I've met who would once have been called "transsexuals," regardless of their race seem to reject it as confining, misleading, etc. for various reasons. But still, a little rash to commit the abbreviation to the dustbin and use it for something else! Sorry we got our wires crossed there.

From what I can see, this leaves the real disagreement down to a quibble. Still, for what it's worth, I think "many" is appropriate, but "if not most" might souund borderline weaselly (though I'm sure it wasn't intended that way). Nowhere near a majority of Indian nations have been mentioned in this article, and many are specifically mentioned for having had no sign of such a role. It just strikes me as a prudent, conservative policy to merely make claims about what we have evidence for--which is most certainly "many," but nowhere near "most." Let's remember that we're talking about a fairly specific category of social role; the mere absence of phobia in other nations does not indicate that a two-spirit type role should be inferred for them. ...I do, on the other hand, now agree that "homophobia" should indeed be thought of as a European influence. But as for the article, I'd rather see someone attempt an account along the lines you just laid out, talking about how and when Christianity or other influences affected attitudes toward two-spirits. You see this all the time in pop (ie general-audience, like wikipedia) accounts of sex/gender roles and encounters with European-Christian culture: No matter what the time or place of the encounter, or the nature of the social role that was once tolerated, the aboriginal nation's new intolerance is explained as "homophobia." It's always struck me that with a just a little more effort, they could be a lot more helpful with their description.205.212.74.148 10:05, 1 June 2007 (UTC

(Update: I see the article says "homophobia/transphobia." I guess this is actually pretty good; the equivocation of the term actually emphasizes the uniqueness of the traditional identities and discourages anachronistic thinking. Still, couldn't hurt to put in some more specific stuff!)205.212.74.148 10:33, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Crazy Horse's winkte wife's name? Anyone?[edit]

Can anyone tell me what the name of Crazy Horse's male wife(s) was? I can't find this information anywhere.VatoFirme (talk) 07:39, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Hunh. "Woman's Dress" seems to be the person's name, though there's some debate about whether Woman's Dress was actually winkte or not - take a look at [2] That's just a quick Google Book search, though, so I may have hit on something totally off-track. -- SatyrTN (talk / contribs) 07:48, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Use of full quote[edit]

I think the inclusion of the full quote is valid, although I disagree with the interpretation noted here. The quote shows that the Franciscan friar looking in at the situation considered the position to be "degrading". Perhaps a better set up of the quote is needed. -- The Red Pen of Doom 12:25, 23 June 2008 (UTC)


Just about every Euro saw it as degrading and thought it was punishment. De Vaca and Le Moyne among the Timucua, Bossu and Romans among the Choctaw, de la Vega and the Incas, etc., if Catlin and the rest are correct then it was "despised," a "punishment," or "enslavement" practiced by many tribes. Europeans saw it as degrading and as punishment. I recommend reading Will Roscoe's Changing Ones, chapter nine and Richard Trexler's Sex and Conquest. I'll allow the full quote. I will add something at the bottom of the Catlin quote for now. -- WiccaIrish (talk) 00:23, 24 June 2008 (UTC)
Now, I'll spare you the several obvious objections that come to mind concerning what you say about the Euros' interpretations. If the sources you mention do say what you say, go ahead and cite them. As of now, the note you added [3] contains an interpretation that seems far-fetched, is not sourced and looks like OR. The quote itself indicates clearly that by "duties" Catlin means precisely that, duties - i.e. not the actual sexual practice and clothing of the Berdache, which are clearly his/her own choice/preference, but the work s/he performs in the community. Looking at the list in the beginning of the article, this seems to agree with the "gravedigging" bit - it's a disliked duty, one that marginalizes and is given to the marginalized in many cultures; e.g. Gypsies in traditional societies on the Balkans have been given such functions, cf. the fortune-telling bit. BTW, I'll [citation needed] that list, I think its sources should be stated clearly.--91.148.159.4 (talk) 12:04, 24 June 2008 (UTC)


Regalated to the marginalized? Well the Gypsies in the Balkans are a lot different. This is not what I have come across in my reading of the berdache. In some tribes the woman-man berdache was the exclusive lead mourner and grave digger, while in others it was usually done by regular men or women and only occasionally by a berdache, while in others the berdache had nothing to do with mourning or corpse-handling. The Michachai and Waksachi Yokut women-men were sometimes gravediggers, but only after having a dream that instructed them to do so. For the regular person, why someone became a gravedigger are prosaic; either someone "grew up that way" or had a desire to get rid of the deceased, sometimes dreams were sent by the dead which moved someone to take up the occupation. Among the Michachai and Waksachi the bodies of men had to be carried by men and the bodies of women had to be carried by women, so the berdache was well suited to this task as they could carry both. Among the Lakota the task of carrying the corpse to the burial scaffold was done by elderly women. -- WiccaIrish (talk) 06:15, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
So it was different among different tribes? I'm fully prepared to believe that. As for the dreams issue - well, there's a continuum between being forced by the community to perform a function because you're marginalized and choosing to perform a function that is marginal but also privileged (undertaker, witch, hangman) because you're in some way marginalized anyway and have little to lose from that. Of course, these are all my uninformed speculations, largely irrelevant to the specific quote issue. --91.148.159.4 (talk) 13:28, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

Length of quotes[edit]

After seeing that Kingturtle removed and objected to these lengthy quotes appearing here and suggested wikiquote instead, perhaps the shorter Catlin quote would be better after all. I'm tempted to reinsert the original quote, but it seems that 91.148.159.4 doesn't want that. I will wait about a week for other(s) to weigh in on this before proceeding because I don't want to engage in a petty edit war. -- WiccaIrish (talk) 07:24, 24 June 2008 (UTC)

Responding to WiccIrish's proposal:
Yes, I don't want that. I don't see why you feel that precisely the Catlin quote, and in the shortened version to boot, is more desirable than all the rest. And I still maintain that the way you had shortened it is misleading and, whatever your intention was, objectively has the effect of concealing information. Catlin may have been wrong in much of what he wrote, but you can't take just the part of his observations that supports your preferred generalization (roughly, the generalization that overall, Indians tolerated and respected LGBTs until the Euros came) and then completely omit the part that directly contradicts it - I can tell you that no matter what one thinks about the proposed generalization itself, this kind of selectivity would be considered cheating in every area of knowledge. As I said, the shortened version conceals the fact that Catlin refers to the Berdache being given degrading duties. It also allots a lot of space to Catlin's Puritanical dislike of the custom, but doesn't actually specify what the custom he disliked was, again according to Catlin's information. It only implies that there was some "dance to the Berdache", giving the impression that it was a dance performed by the entire grateful community in honour of the highly respected Berdache - so evil Catlin hated it, of course. In fact the entire quote clearly indicates that it was a humorous dance performed only by men who had had sex with the Berdache and boasted of that (whom Catlin accordingly classifies, within his own cultural framework, as "odd fellows") - true or not, this is a different and much less idyllic picture.--91.148.159.4 (talk) 12:50, 24 June 2008 (UTC)
Catlin missed the significance of the event he had witnessed. There are many contradictions in his claim. Simply by virtue of being offered a feast, the berdache was accorded a high status. And the men who voluntarily got up to dance did so because there was a certain status in being the sexual partner of the berdache. An even more important element of this dance is that it offered the berdache as opportunity publicly to humiliate any man who dared to dance. Simply by denying past sexual relations the berdache could make a man's dance seem an empty boast. This served as a powerful weapon to ensure that the berdache's partners would not mistreat him, all he had to do was deny having sex with them. Papago men would sometimes boast of having an obscene nickname given to them by a berdache. The Sauk and Fox people had to stay on the good side of the berdache or risk public humiliation. "Evil Catlin" may not be entirely true. Whether his last statement was his personal views is uncertain, he might felt constrained to insert a negative comment to prevent controversy. He had practically invited those who were homosexually-inclined men to go west and see the berdaches for themselves. -- WiccaIrish (talk) 06:48, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
Well, to put it briefly - you choose to look at it that way, but these are your interpretations of the passage, they are not the only possible ones, thus no sufficient reason for dropping that bit or downplaying it with an unattributed analysis (provided that it stays unattributed, of course).
It feels kind of silly to enumerate the possible objections: would a regular woman enjoy any number of people boasting publicly they had intimate relationships with her? You have to be placed in a "weird", marginalized position in the community (the "village whore") to find any joy or use in this sort of thing in the first place. Mistreatment by non-partners seems at least as relevant a risk as mistreatment by partners. Not to mention the "Invitation to a Gay Heaven in the Wild West" thing. All in all, I think that both sides of what Catlin says merit consideration. His comment about the berdache being celebrated and regarded as medicine because of being degraded seems contradictory and is probably partly homophobic, but is not as devoid of plausibility as it could appear. In traditional societies, "freaks" and "outsiders" of all kinds are often both marginalized and respected, disliked but feared; they are regarded as magical and close to the Great Unknown (Catlin's "medicine") because they are somehow different, inexplicable. People will view the witch living at the end of the village with a mixture of superstitious fear and contempt, hope and hate. No wonder having had sex with the strange creature is a brave achievement to boast of - cutting its liver out and making it into powder would surely increase one's magical powers as well, just as a toad's or an albino's severed organ would. Overall, this sort of "traditional", "noble and savage" situations are not necessarily idylls from a modern point of view. --91.148.159.4 (talk) 13:08, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
"Catlin missed the significance of the event he had witnessed."
Is that not your original research, WiccaIrish?24.22.141.252 (talk) 21:45, 22 August 2009 (UTC)
How about summarizing the quotes instead of quoting the quotes? Kingturtle (talk) 12:12, 24 June 2008 (UTC)
Yes, it seems like a good idea to just make a general observation about the reaction of European observers meeting with the Two-Spirit phenomenon for the first time. But as for a more detailed summary, see above for the potential problems - even the interpretation of a literal quote can be troublesome, and a summary is likely to contain even more interpretation on the part of the summarizer. --91.148.159.4 (talk) 12:50, 24 June 2008 (UTC)

Move back to Berdache[edit]

This article is full of misinformation and egregious misrepresentation of its sources, as well of omission of higher-quality sources which paint an entirely different picture. To transform it into a legitimate scholarly work will be a very substantial endeavor - and from the history, I'm not entirely clear that this was the intention of its authors in the first place. We can begin by moving it back to the term that is used in the anthropological literature, "berdache" - which even this article admits is the prevailing scholarly term - rather than this activist neologism, "two spirit", to which it was moved in 2004.[4]24.22.141.252 (talk) 21:50, 22 August 2009 (UTC)

I'd also like to observe that the notion that this article falls "within the scope of WikiProject LGBT studies," per the template above, is highly presumptive, and may be one of the reasons for its unscholarly direction. The second template, "WikiProject Indigenous peoples of North America," is far more appropriate, yet one gets the sense that these peoples have been appropriated as props for the agenda of the other.24.22.141.252 (talk) 22:43, 22 August 2009 (UTC)
Keep in mind that articles can be about terms as well as topics. Hyacinth (talk) 09:14, 23 August 2009 (UTC)
Actually, articles about terms aren't supposed to exist on Wikipedia, though you're right that they do. But it was you who redirected Berdache to "Two-Spirit"[5]…so if Two-Spirit is supposed to be about a term used by activists, rather than the body of scholarly work related to berdache, as used by cultural anthropologists, this should be reversed.24.22.141.252 (talk) 03:28, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
Actually, the word berdache is not the prevailing term. Academics are rejecting this term because, for one thing, it is not a native term, but rather French or Canadian, and the definition - that of a "kept boy" etc., is not accurate to describe the duel spirit in traditional cultures. On some campuses the Navajo word "nah-dle" is preferred. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.145.59.90 (talk) 19:09, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

Misrepresentation of sources[edit]

The article is full of them, but let's start with these, said to justify the use of "Two-Spirit" rather than "Berdache." This articles states,

"Use of the term [berdache] has widely been replaced with two-spirit, which originated in Winnipeg, Canada in 1990 during the third annual intertribal Native American/First Nations gay and lesbian conference."

The first clause is cited to Jacobs, Thomas & Lang (1997 :4) and to Williams (1986: 9). But what do the sources actually say? Jacobs, Thomas & Lang say that Native American gays and transgenders find "berdache" insulting, not that Native Americans in general do, as the article claimed until just now - I removed it. The book does not say (at least not on page 4) that the term has been widely replaced. Meanwhile, the cited page in Williams (1986) says nothing to this effect, either that it has been replaced or that anyone fnds it offensive. In fact, this book itself uses "berdache!"
24.22.141.252 (talk) 03:43, 23 August 2009 (UTC)


What's being misrepresented?: The quote above doesn't say what you say it does. Hyacinth (talk) 09:13, 23 August 2009 (UTC)


  • This article: "…and is frequently rejected as inappropriate and offensive by modern Native Americans."[6]
  • Jacobs, Thomas & Lang (1997: 4) state that Native American gays and transgenders find it offensive, not that modern Native Americans do.
  • This article: "Use of the term [berdache] has widely been replaced with two-spirit…"
  • Neither of the two cited sources say this - in fact Williams uses “berdache" himself, yet was cited here to state that the term had been superceded. 24.22.141.252 (talk) 09:26, 23 August 2009 (UTC)


And you're still paraphrasing, now the sources rather than the Wikipedia article. Hyacinth (talk) 11:12, 23 August 2009 (UTC)


Hi, I see you posted on my talk page about this. After checking the history, from what I could discern, the part about the offensiveness to Native Americans in general was not added by me, in fact it had been added to the article in 2003 (my first edit was in 2005). In Jacobs, et. al. on page 3 it says, "'Berdache' is now considered to be an inappropriate and insulting term by a number of Native Americans as well as by anthropologists." Some of the cites were misplaced as you could see with the American Heritage Dictionary, Jacobs, et. al., and Williams cites, they should have been placed after the etymology piece. In particular, page 4 of Jacobs, et al. and page 9 of Williams looks at the etymology of "berdache," not that it had "widely been replaced."
"Misrepresentation of sources" is a serious accusation. Remember, please assume good faith. I have decided to move the cites to where they should have been placed. -- WiccaIrish (talk) 10:43, 23 August 2009 (UTC)


WiccaIrish, you wrote, “Although all tribes were influenced by European homophobia/transphobia, certain tribes were particularly so, such as the Acoma, Atsugewi, Dilzhe'e (Tonto) Apache, Cocopa, Costanoan, Klamath, Maidu, Mohave, Nomlaki, Omaha, Oto, Pima, Wind River Shoshone, Tolowa, and Winnebago.” even after being explicitly alerted that it misrepresented its source.[7]
The second clause of your edit, which claims that the listed groups were “particularly [influenced by European homophobia/transphobia]”, is cited to Lang, S. (1998: 318) (which, incidentally, should read 314-318.) But what does Lang actually say? As it happens, this page may be viewed in google books. It, and the pages preceding, list various American groups and summarizes their prevailing attitudes towards what Lang calls “women-men, men-women, feminine males and masculine females”. It says nothing whatsoever to the effect that these particular groups' attitudes were influenced by “European Homophobia//Transphobia”, does it?
Similar misrepresentations are found throughout the article - in fact, nearly every source I’ve been able to check is wrongly used.
Your recent change is now unsourced (though that beats falsely sourced): has the term “berdache,” in fact, “widely been replaced with "two-spirit" outside of scholarly literature” as you wrote? Most people don’t discuss or think about berdache at all, so I’m not sure what this can mean.
Since we’ve conceded that berdache is the scholarly term, and since Wikipedia purports to be a serious project, what rationale is there for maintaining this article under this title - shouldn’t it be moved back to Berdache? 24.22.141.252 (talk) 03:29, 24 August 2009 (UTC)


Are you even bothering to look at the article carefully? Lang (1998: 318) is not the page that discusses the impact that White influence has had on tribes. Look at the sources immediately after "homophobia/transphobia." Six cites are given, one of these is Lang (1998). From page 311, "White influence has over time had a significant negative impact on Native American attitudes toward the 'berdache' phenomenon." Read this page on Google books. It is page 318 that mentions the tribes that have shown disapproval in recent times to gender role change.
Anytime that "berdaches" are mentioned, that word is not used. Most of the time it is "two-spirit," not "berdache." So yes, outside of scholarly literature "berdache" is not the prevailing term used. At least that has been my experience. -- WiccaIrish (talk) 06:01, 24 August 2009 (UTC)


WiccaIrish, per your user talk. I've undone your refactoring of my post.[8] Please find a way to respond to points without breaking up and rearranging my posts. 24.22.141.252 (talk) 21:08, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
So Lang wrote: "White influence has over time had a significant negative impact on Native American attitudes toward the 'berdache' phenomenon."…and from this you get "Although all tribes were influenced by European homophobia/transphobia, certain tribes were particularly so, such as the … [list of groups]"?
Bottom line, the sources - and we can go through them one by one if you like - don't say what you wrote; not even close. If we cannot find a reliable source for the claim that "all tribes were influenced by European homophobia/transphobia" (and there are over 500 federally recognized tribes in the United States alone) - and I'm pretty sure we can't - it must be removed from the article.
Additionally, the text gives us no cause to ascribe all of the negative attitudes listed in Lang (1998: 314-318) to the influence of European culture. Earlier, Lang gives the Winnebago as an example to accompany the claim, "White influence has over time had a significant negative impact on Native American attitudes toward the 'berdache' phenomenon." That is only one group among your list of tribes which you stated were "particularly influenced by European homophobia/transphobia".
You wrote, "Anytime that "berdaches" are mentioned, that word is not used. Most of the time it is "two-spirit," not "berdache." So yes, outside of scholarly literature "berdache" is not the prevailing term used. At least that has been my experience."
That is, this claim is your original research. As you're not a Native American and not an anthropologist, I have to wonder what experience you're talking about, or why it would be relevant here.
Is there any other objection to moving this article back to its original title, Berdache? 24.22.141.252 (talk) 21:32, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
I also note that Hyacinth has laid out a blatantly activist agenda for this article in his user space:User:Hyacinth/Two Spirit. 24.22.141.252 (talk) 21:40, 24 August 2009 (UTC)


1. If you read every reference, it becomes abundantly clear how/why tribes today are rampant with homophobia and transphobia. "European influences had almost eradicated the recognition and role of people like myself among my own people." (Jacobs, et al. [1997], "I Am a Lakota Womyn," Beverly Little Thunder, pg. 206).
As for Williams (1986): "On many reservations today the status of the berdache has declined, and younger individuals who would formerly have taken a respected position in their tribe are currently stigmatized and lost in a society that is no longer independent of colonial control." (pg. 14), "Even in societies that have been the focus of this study, there are periodic references to berdaches which seem to denote some negativism. Most of these derogatory statements are a result of the influence of white people and their Christian religion. Some anthropologists have been less than clear about recognizing these acculturative influences, and instead have blithely attributed derogatory statements to a supposed aboriginal heritage." (pg. 39), "While the suppression of the berdache tradition originated from the prejudices of white government officials and missionaries, ultimately the changing ideals of Indian people themselves have had the most direct impact on berdaches. Under the devastating impact of the church and the state, traditional religious ceremonies were suppressed and ideology revolutionized. When Indians converted to Christianity, many absorbed Christian notions about the evilness of sex, and disrespect for the shamans and their ceremonies. By internalizing white ideals, they undercut the basis for respect of things they had previously accepted." (pg. 187-188), "In 1944 an ethnographer among the Hopi reported that while homosexuality had formerly been quite common, it was infrequent by the 1930s because of white influences." (pg. 188), "Any tradition that combined both sexuality and traditional religious ideas, like berdachism, received much genocidal pressure." (pg. 188), "Just as the status of Indian women declined with the adoption of patriarchal Christianity, so did berdaches. Since Christianity views men as superior, with a creation story specifying a male god creating a masculine being and only later taking the female from the rib of the male, then the berdache is likewise inferior because he is 'less than a man.' No longer is he combining the power of both women and men; in Christianity he is seen as subverting his natural male superiority to take an inferior female form." (pg. 189), "It is not surprising to hear stories such as that recorded about the Winnebago, who had previously treated berdaches as highly honored and respected persons, but who had 'become ashamed of the custom because the white people thought if was amusing or evil. By the time the last known berdache attempted to fulfill the role [about 1900] his brothers threatened to kill him if he 'put on the skirt.' " (pg. 189), " By the 1940s, the Winnebago word for berdache, siange, was used 'as an insult or teasing epithet.' According to a Lakota berdache informant, the Christian 'Holy Rollers' consider him to be 'possessed by the devil.' Another said his grandmother wanted to accept him but felt that her Christian belief told her he should be heterosexual. His grandfather (who was not Christian) was accepting." (pg. 189-190), "assertions [about homosexuality] are seriously damaging to the image that the [white] American people have of all Indian tribes." (pg. 191), "The modern Indian has been programmed by white society so that his former more and measurements have been changed to fit his ever-assimilating enviroment. [...] Hollywood, T.V. and the Church have had a heavy influence on the changing attitude of Indian thought." (pg. 191-192, quoting gay Mohawk poet Maurice Kenny).
As for Swidler (1993): "One of the important elements in the Spanish image of barbarism in the Americas was the Native Americans' acceptance of various type of homosexual relations. As early as Hernando Cortes' conquest of Mexico, there are records of conquistadors urging rulers and priests to eliminate sodomy from the palaces and temples. Vasco Nunez de Balboa went even further, putting 'a large number of them to death by setting wild dogs upon them.' " (pg. 18), " On many reservations [Indian agents] also tried to ban berdache transgenderism by forcing berdache to wear male clothes. This was reinforced by the Indian boarding schools, which attempted to sharply define sex roles in a European fashion, exalting patriarchy and condemning any form of androgynous behavior. Missionaries openly condemned all forms of homosexual relations, excluding berdaches from church and from burial in church cemeteries and insisting that Christian Indians have nothing to do with berdache in their community. A Lakota healer described the way that such teachings were internalized: 'When the people began to be influenced by the missions and the boarding schools, a lot of them forgot the traditional ways and the traditional medicine. Then they began to look down on the winkte and lose respect. The missionaries and the government agents said winktes were no good, and tried to get them to change their ways. Some did, and put on men's clothing. But others, rather than change, went out and hanged themselves.'" (pg. 18), "Within communities dominated by assimilated Indians, the berdache confronted increasing amounts of scorn." (pg. 19).
2. If you simply have a problem with the word "all" in "all tribes were influenced [...]," then that can be deleted. I have no problem with that. I will change it.
3. I am with Hyacinth on the part of you assuming whether or not we are Native or have a degree in anthropology, or that we haven't been in discussions with this among those who identify as "two-spirit" both Native and non. This is ridiculous.
4. No, I do not support the change to the article's name.
5. "Blatantly activist," is this not an attack on Hyacinth? -- WiccaIrish (talk) 17:33, 25 August 2009 (UTC)


Thank you, WiccaIrish, for this copious text dump. A few points:
1) Beverly Little Thunder is not a reliable source about berdache, or pre-modern Native culture generally, but a “Native American lesbian author and activist’:[9][10]
Addtionally, you’ve misattributed her essay in what is currently note 23: Jacobs: (1997: 206) should read “Thunder (1997: 206),”, and her essay should appear in the bibliography wherever it is used. Not only have you used an activist instead of an academic, you’ve also denied her credit for her writing by passing it off as someone else’s.
2) WiccaIrish, it’s nice that you’ve changed “All tribes” to “many, if not all,” but you continue to seriously misrepresent Lang (1998: 314-318). Lang lists a number of American groups and summarizes their attitudes towards gender-role variance as documented in the there-cited literature; your tribes, “Acoma, Atsugewi, Dilzhe'e (Tonto) Apache, Cocopa, Costanoan, Klamath, Maidu, Mohave, Nomlaki, Omaha, Oto, Pima, Wind River Shoshone, Tolowa, and Winnebago” were selected from this list. Lang does not claim that all the groups which disapprove only do so because of they were “particularly” “influenced by European homophobia/transphobia,” as you wrote, and you cannot appeal to more generalized statements by Williams and Swidler to make Lang say that; that is your synthesis and original research.
3) “No, I do not support the change to the article's name.”
I am not asking if you support it; I know you don’t, and I have a fair idea of why you don’t. My question is, can you provide any reason why it shouldn’t be moved back to what we all admit is the standard scholarly term Berdache, besides that you personally prefer this activist neologism?24.22.141.252 (talk) 04:15, 26 August 2009 (UTC)


1. Not reliable? I find her reliable. Ah, I see. Per your very own mindset, since she is Native American then she must be reliable. You have a problem with the "activist" part, as she must have some kind of "agenda." But then again, so do you. As for "misattributing her essay," that certainly was never my intention. If you feel that the cite should say something else then change it to where you feel the cite reads best. Do you find everything that you think is incorrect to be done in bad faith? You make it seem as if it was done on purpose.
You came in here guns ablazin' with accusations and spouting off the word "activist," do you think we should be more accommodating?
2. I've never really been entirely comfortable with that list. But I stand behind it for now.
3. The reason against the change in the article name is simple, "berdache" is not an appropriate term. If the others that have contributed to this article feel it best to be moved to "berdache" then, in that case, I have no objection. -- WiccaIrish (talk) 08:08, 26 August 2009 (UTC)


"The reason against the change in the article name is simple, "berdache" is not an appropriate term"
Bearing in mind that "berdache" is the established term in the scholarly literature, why are you saying that Wikipedia should use "two-spirit"?
"I've never really been entirely comfortable with that list. But I stand behind it for now."
What do you stand behind, Lang's list, or your unsourced claim that the groups Lang lists as having negative attitudes towards transvestism were in all cases "particularly influenced by European homophobia/transphobia"?24.22.141.252 (talk) 08:59, 26 August 2009 (UTC)


We clearly are seeing things differently. I have nothing against you. I understand that your intentions, on closer inspection, seem to be good. It's great that you seem only to want the best for the article, and Wikipedia as a whole, backed up with solid citations. I will delete the list of tribes. However, you need to stop coming off as so confrontational. Perhaps "berdache" would be better, but I'd rather a vote to be done first.
Update: I have provided a citation for "two-spirit" being widely used outside of scholarly literature (Roscoe [1998]). I recommend reading pages 109-111 for the information that you've been asking for and Roscoe providing numerous examples of it being used and why it is seen as an appropriate term, rather than the archaic term "berdache." -- WiccaIrish (talk) 09:01, 26 August 2009 (UTC)


How do you know I'm not Native or an anthropologist? Plus what good would being an anthropologist? Do you know anything about Native American/American Indian Studies?
Good job of assuming good faith. Also you don't seem to have realized that if a draft has a thesis, its not for Wikipedia. Lastly, if I support tribal sovereignty, what wouldn't my agenda tend be on the side of Indians? Hyacinth (talk) 04:12, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
This is highly insulting. I am simply saying that the bald assertion that this article misrepresents sources is so poorly supported that I'm left with no idea whether the article or the bald assertion is correct. All it would have taken and would take to support that assertion would be a few short quotes. In other words, just a bit more than the article presented, which is not too much to ask.
For you to then dig through my user page for evidence against my point and supposedly personal evidence against me is not only insulting, but shows that you didn't have an real argument against my point and that you are for some reason either unwilling or unable to quote the evidence for your assertion. Hyacinth (talk) 04:22, 25 August 2009 (UTC)


"you didn't have an real argument against my point"
What was your point? WiccaIrish and I were discussing Lang (1998); do you have anything to add to that discussion?
My questions for you, Hyacinth, are, 1) why did you move Berdache to Two-Spirit in the first place and 2) As even Roscoe (2000:7) acknowledges "berdache" to be the standard anthropological term, is there any good reason not to move this article back to the title Berdache? 24.22.141.252 (talk) 05:38, 25 August 2009 (UTC)


Some comments on the above[edit]

1. General

I heartily agree with 24 that descriptions of historical phenomena should reflect academic practice and knowledge, not self-appointed modern "successors" - this is a ubiquitous problem that I've encountered countless times on Wikipedia and in our modern intellectual/cultural life in general. So yes, I'm for academia against activists. BUT there's little we on Wikipedia can do when academia turns activist. Williams is apparently an activist scholar, and Lang is on his side; it seems that things have gone too far in this particular field, and if you want to combat this, you have to become a scholar, not a Wikipedian. On this particular front (Wikipedia), there is precious little that can be done.

2. Use of the term "berdache"

I agree with 24 that "berdache" has apparently been the accepted anthropological term, while two-spirit is an activist neologism. BUT Wiccalrish and Hyacinth have cited a scholarly source saying that "'Berdache' is now considered to be an inappropriate and insulting term by a number of Native Americans as well as by anthropologists". This is legitimate. If "berdache" is to be used as 24 wants, then one would at least need to have citations to other modern scholarly sources saying the opposite.

3. List and synthesis

24 says that "Lang does not claim that all the groups which disapprove only do so because of they were “particularly” “influenced by European homophobia/transphobia,” as you wrote, and you cannot appeal to more generalized statements by Williams and Swidler to make Lang say that; that is your synthesis and original research."

I agree with 24 - this is obvious OR. BUT if Williams or someone else clearly says that all Native American homophobia is of White origin - and the quotes from him that Wiccalrish and Hyacinth have adduced are pretty close to saying such a thing, so I suppose that a precise match can easily be found as well - then this can be stated in the article, and the list can come shortly afterwards, leading to the same overall impression.

4. Little Thunder

24 says that "Beverly Little Thunder is not a reliable source about berdache, or pre-modern Native culture generally, but a “Native American lesbian author and activist’:[9][10] Addtionally, you’ve misattributed her essay in what is currently note 23: Jacobs: (1997: 206) should read “Thunder (1997: 206),”, and her essay should appear in the bibliography wherever it is used. Not only have you used an activist instead of an academic, you’ve also denied her credit for her writing by passing it off as someone else’s."

I agree with 24 - this is a POV-ish misattribution. BUT if Jacobs clearly expresses agreement with Thunder's claim - and I wouldn't be surprised if he does - then that can be cited anyway. --91.148.159.4 (talk) 19:24, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

Problem with the lead[edit]

Currently (and I've made only a few minor changes) the lead paragraph reads as follows:

"Two-Spirit (also two spirit or twospirit) people, or berdache in the anthropological literature, are Native Americans who fulfill one of many mixed gender roles found traditionally among many Native Americans and Canadian First Nations indigenous groups. These roles included wearing the clothing and performing the work of both male and female genders. The term "two-spirit" usually implies a masculine spirit and a feminine spirit living in the same body and was coined by contemporary gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Native Americans to describe themselves and the traditional roles they are reclaiming. There are many indigenous terms for these individuals in the various Native American languages. According to Gilly, "What scholars generically refer to as 'Native American gender diversity' was a fundamental institution among most tribal peoples."

The fundamental, and possibly incurable, problem with this introduction (and arguably with the article as a whole) is is that it conflates contemporary gay and lesbian and transgender Native Americans with historical berdaches. For example, do these contemporary Two-Spirits "fulfill one of many mixed gender roles found traditionally among many Native Americans and Canadian First Nations indigenous groups," as stated in the opening sentence? I would be surprised if many did: these roles were tightly circumscribed, and not analogous to contemporary behaviors, which are premised upon individual freedom and choice, and moreover berdaches most classically (i.e. among the Sioux) engaged in sexual relations with (normative as well as biological) men, not with other berdaches.[11] It is thus deeply misleading to describe berdache roles as "the traditional roles they [contemporary Native American LGBTs] are reclaiming." Finally, while the Gilly book is about contemporary Native Americans, the quote in context explicitly refers to traditional male berdache roles, not to "gender diversity" in the modern sense. (We might also observe that, though an anthropologist, Gilly's expertise is in Native Americans with AIDS, not traditional American societies, and is a less-than-ideal source for such a sweeping claim.)24.22.141.252 (talk) 04:26, 25 August 2009 (UTC)

It seems you're questioning how well they are reclaiming their gender roles. I'm guessing that they're doing it very badly, but it seems pointless to make judgements that here - perhaps it could just be rewritten as "roles that they seek to reclaim". The lead could state that the term 'Two-Spirit' may refer to two things - historical Native American mixed gender roles (retrospective Politically Correct use of the term) and those modern LGBT Native Americans who seek to wholly or partly emulate them (synchronic use of the term). I also agree the Gilly quote is kinda stupid (the modern concept of 'gender diversity' presupposes flexibility and individuality, while the Native American roles were rigidly defined), and his lack of expertise is an additional argument to remove it. But all in all, there isn't much that can be improved here, as far as I can see.--91.148.159.4 (talk) 20:00, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

"Roscoe states that male and female berdaches have been "documented in over 130 tribes, in every region of North America, among every type of native culture."[2]" This citation is out-of-date. See my book Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America, where the number of tribes with "alternative gender or sexual roles" (a category broader than "two-spirit" is documented at 150.

In the same source there is a discussion based on extensive research regarding the history of the term "berdache," its use in North America as a frontier or jargon term, and its adoption by anthropologists. There has been much misconception, misunderstanding, and dogmatism on this question. Thank you.

Willrsf (talk) 22:03, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

The list of roles[edit]

I recommend that anyone who doubts the validity of the list first consult the following link. Due to wikibugs, you'll need to manually copy and paste it into your browser:

http://books.google.com/books?id=d5mqEk6UKUUC&pg=PA151&lpg=PA151&dq="conferred+lucky+names+on+children+or+adults"&source=bl&ots=X-box5Ip6I&sig=29l-tA5gryajnN19YiMfQgbtFT4&hl=en&ei=AbgGS5LiFo_4mwP5t5i_Cg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CBIQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=%22conferred%20lucky%20names%20on%20children%20or%20adults%22&f=false.

This source is cited in the article, but less precisely. CarolineWH (talk) 00:46, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

The link worked for me off the page but I didn't find all of the roles listed, I pared the list back to what I could find in the source. - Schrandit (talk) 22:30, 27 November 2009 (UTC)
This might surprise you, but I found more of the roles than you did. CarolineWH (talk) 22:32, 27 November 2009 (UTC)

Proposed: Merge Two-Spirit Identity Theory into this page[edit]

The article Two-Spirit Identity Theory seems to be a psychology-heavy article on Two-Spirits, rather than an article on a specific theory. It should be merged into Two-Spirit. --Alynna (talk) 20:18, 5 December 2009 (UTC)

It's had several edits since your merger request, but it seems to me to have a fair amount of information about the theories. Do you still think they should be merged? If so, say more about what's lacking in the article--I'm not quite sure I understand what you'd want to see to justify keeping them separate. Aristophanes68 (talk) 06:17, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

Misatribution[edit]

I have been erroneously given credit for creating this term. Jennifer Lisa Vest did not create the term, Two-Spirit. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mxdpoet (talkcontribs) 05:34, 28 February 2010 (UTC)

Hi, Mxdpoet! I've removed that info. I did some searching when it was added, but didn't find anything to back up the statement. -- SatyrTN (talk / contribs) 06:19, 28 February 2010 (UTC)

The film Little Big Man, and Heemanah[edit]

In the 1970 film Little Big Man, the male Cheyenne character Little Horse is described as a heemanah (or heemanee, depending on whose version of the subtitles are being quoted) and is respected by the people as such. The character acts much like a male-to-female transgender person might, and also appears to be attracted to men.

I was wondering if this is a historically accurate term and/or portrayal, and whether this might be the first (or only) depiction of a such a Native American character in a fiction film, and whether it would make sense to include this film under "See More" on that basis. 70.54.68.99 (talk) 00:32, 4 March 2010 (UTC)


That term has been spelled various ways and is applied to those who were born physically male but dress feminine and engage in activities usually performed by women. Heemaneh or He´eman (singular), He´emane’o (plural) (hee = "woman"). No, I would not include it under "See More." -- WiccaIrish (talk) 03:59, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

Copy edit request[edit]

An editor requested for copy-editing. At this stage, the article has several issues. Please fix them and then contact me. Thanks, Davtra (talk) 11:37, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

citation for clothing choices at puberty...[edit]

I'll be honest... I'm not someone who has a lot of expertise in these areas... but I was under the impression that in some cultures clothing of the opposite gender might be worn as early as five... it seems like this kind of lumps all the tribes beliefs together as a uniform code or practice...

sorry if i misunderstood.

Judderwocky (talk) 09:36, 19 June 2010 (UTC)

Word origin[edit]

I don't see the point in going back to Indo-European, which is anyway a hypothetical reconstruction, when the word "Berdache" clearly is of French origin. Taking the origin that far back is simply tendentious and reflects a specific, advocacy or point of view. Isn't that a no-no for Wikipedia? 24.81.25.127 (talk) 19:08, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

"Niizh manidoowag"[edit]

The article as it stands claims that "two spirit" is a "direct translation" or "calque" from the Ojibwe "niizh manidoowag".

There are a number of reasons to doubt this claim. For starters, the standard plural of Ojibwe "manidoo" is not "manidoowag" but "manidoog". I have never heard an exception to this in spoken usage. I have also searched a vast corpus of Ojibwe texts from all known dialect regions going back to the 19th century and I have yet to find an exception to this. Secondly, the Ojibwe literally translates as "two spirits". I would be interested to see a citation of the use of this phrase with the meaning claimed in a historical (pre-1990) sentence by a fluent Ojibwe speaker. It does not sound like natural Ojibwe to me. I'm not a native speaker of Ojibwe, but based on my knowledge of the language it seems if such an idea were to be communicated in Ojibwe, it would be more natural to say something like (and I am definitely just guessing here) "oniizhomanidoowi", i.e. to express it as a verb form (and then to make a participle from the verb). The preference for naming everything with noun phrases is an English bias and adds to the suspicion that the Ojibwe is the calque of the English, not the other way around. The bias of Ojibwe is to express such ideas with verbs. However, I have never seen any such word in any shape, so if it is historically attested, some citation should be provided. I have asked a number of fluent speakers the traditional words that might be used to express queer, trans, gay, etc. and so far have not heard one - let alone any variation on "niizh manidoowag". There are official neologisms like "wiijininiimaagan", but everyone recognizes these to be recent coinages.

In John Tanner's autobiography the word "a-go-kwa" is used, which in modern double-vowel orthography would be written as egokwe or possibly egookwe. The -kwe element means woman, but I don't know what the ego- or egoo- part means. And understanding the cultural sense of the term relies on a lot of retrospective interpretation. However, you can read this section of John Tanner's narrative here: http://books.google.ca/books?id=mQ8AAAAAQAAJ&dq=john%20tanner&pg=PA105#v=onepage&q=a-go-kwa&f=false

In any case, without a persuasive citation of the historical usage of the words "niizh manidoowag" I think any claim that they are the origin of the English expression cannot be supported. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Waabizheshi (talkcontribs) 18:46, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

The edit reinserting the claim of derivation from the supposed Ojibwe "niizh manidoowag" quotes a 2011 journalistic source that postdates the Wikipedia article. The cited journalistic source appears to derive from this Wikipedia entry. Passages of the source strongly resemble passages of this article, so it cannot be considered a persuasive source, given the arguments above. A source that predates 1990 would be most persuasive, but at the very least, given the arguments above, a source that predates this Wikipedia article and does not derive from it.

Waabizheshi (talk) 17:16, 2 February 2012 (UTC)Waabizheshi

I think that you're setting an unreasonably high bar with regard to a pre-1990 citation. I've reinstated the claim and added an additional source, which I hope and trust you will find more suitable. — HipLibrarianship talk 02:11, 5 February 2012 (UTC)

Even if pre-1990 is an overly high bar, a citation that is prior to the first appearance of the claim in this article (2006) is needed to avoid obvious circularity. Further, neither of these citations, in which the putative term is presented in a body of English text, is persuasive evidence of its currency in the Ojibwe language. Also, the grammatical problems that cast doubt on the origin of the term have not been addressed. The problem is the etymology is being used to legitimize the English term, but it appears to be a false etymology. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.158.12.50 (talk) 08:01, 29 February 2012 (UTC)

this article is clearly about Gender roles in First Nations and Native American tribes, which would be an appropriate encyclopedic title. "Two-spirit" is clearly a pseudo-indigenous jargon term cooked up 20 years ago within some interest group. Ojibwe or no Ojibwe, it is not encyclopedic, and Wikipedia is not a slang dictionary. Discuss the term for whatever it is worth at wikt:Two-Spirit, and take the encyclopedic treatment of the anthropological question to Third gender and Gender roles in First Nations and Native American tribes. --dab (𒁳) 11:32, 4 April 2012 (UTC)

As you say, Two-Spirit is a modern rather than traditional term. "Cooked up" is rather pejorative, don't you think? Whatever the term's origin, the topic itself has been covered in reliable sources. There are simply two topics here, both of which deserve encyclopedic treatment. This argues against your proposed merge. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Enthea (talkcontribs) 07:26, 7 April 2012 (UTC)

While "Two Spirit" may be a recently derived term, that doesnt matter if it is a term/concept that has recieved significant coverage by reliable sources, and is the term most commonly used for that subject. It appears to meet both of those criteria. -- The Red Pen of Doom 22:06, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
Thank you. That was precisely my point. Regardless of the historical accuracy, this has become a term of preference within a specific ethnic subsection of the LGBTQ community. Or the LGBTQ subsection of the Native American/First Nations community. The article covers a sociological rather than a historic topic, but it is a notable one. Enthea (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 23:22, 10 April 2012 (UTC).

Koskalaka[edit]

I inserted a bit about this term, which redirects here. Can you all help with sourcing and entymology for this term? Is it coincidence that this word has sound correspondences with the Proto-Uralic language word *koska (aunt)? Are any of these words Wanderworts? Bearian (talk) 17:24, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

Raven Kaldera Source[edit]

A character called Raven Kaldera has a handbook that is cited as a source for this article... I am curious what kind of educational background he has or what makes him an expert on this topic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.23.141.102 (talk) 10:35, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

Citations are really bad[edit]

The citations on this page are really disorganized. Some just say (Lang 28). There's about 20 different "Lang" reference footnotes at the bottom of the page. I'm not sure what kind of fix this needs, but I'm pretty sure this isn't how wikipedia citations are supposed to work. Deathcloud33 (talk) 01:11, 10 January 2014 (UTC)

Suggest serious cleanup then merge[edit]

There is also an article over at Two-Spirit identity theory that is in even worse shape than this one. I have done some initial cleanup here, but the sourcing problem is still pretty serious. The other article looks to be a long essay, and what is sourceable is probably already covered here. Rather than AfD that article, I suggest comparing the two, cutting unsourceable and redundant content from that one, merging what little is left here, and turning that page into a redirect to this one. - CorbieV 22:41, 1 April 2014 (UTC)