Indigenous Women: Nations, Cultures, Voices

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Gathering of Queer Nations, April 28-29, Albuquerque

b2ap3_thumbnail_baaits_san_francisco_2.jpgThe Gathering of Nations is an annual mega-pow-wow in Albuquerque, New Mexico that brings in thousands of Indigenous dancers, drummers, and singers for a high-profile, high-flyin' time in Indian Country that boosts pride and re-affirms the vibrancy and resiliency of Indigenous cultures. But to some Native Americans, the annual Gathering of Nations event has been missing something, something the Two-Spirits especially noticed....them! The photograph above is of the Bay Area American Indian Two Spirit Society from 2016.

So last year the founders of a group called Bands in Action founded the Gathering of Queer Nations so the underground culture of Indigenous lesbian, gay, queer, and trans people can be brought center-stage in a celebratory event that includes musical artists, poetry, and a fashion show. The necessity for a separate event is the result of European colonization: many Indigenous people, communities, and tribal nations today reject their LGBTQ2 relatives. Much of this is due in part to the effects of the Indian Boarding School brainwashing that enforced heterosexual-only beliefs and shamed Indigenous beliefs that included and respected LGBTQ people, among many other traumas.b2ap3_thumbnail_Native-Out_20170423-202957_1.jpg

To be clear, Indigenous nations here on Turtle Island are culturally distinct and each historically had their own way of understanding Two-Spirited people. Some nations were entirely inclusive, others had a more neutral opinion, while others were more on the marginalizing end of the spectrum. Just as there is no "one Indigenous culture" there is no "one way" to characterize how Native nations treated their Two-Spirited people. The photograph above is of the group Native Out, a LGBTQ2 organization supporting Native Two-Spirits. The photograph below was taken at the 2016 Gay Pride Parade in New York City and shows Eastern Cherokee singer Tony Enos singing to the crowd.b2ap3_thumbnail_tong_singing_.jpg

At the April 28--29th Queer Nations event in Albuquerque, hip hop performers KBenally will be performing and the group Letsjusb who won a Native American Best Music Video award in 2015. Members of the Standing Rock Two-Spirit Camp that supported the "No Dakota Access Pipeline" Movement will be presenting at the event as well. Their photograph is below. Indian Country Today Media News reports that the Gathering of Queer Nations II will take place on Friday, April 28 from 6-8pm and on Saturday, April 29 from noon to 8pm at Corpus Art Space, 123 7th St NW in Albuquerque. For more information see:

Friday events:
Saturday events:





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Dr. Mays is a professional writer with a doctoral degree in Native American Studies who has taught at the college level for nearly two decades. She is committed to educating about Indigenous cultures, especially about practices that specifically relate to women, in order to raise awareness about current issues in Indian Country, dissolve stereotypes, and create healing among all communities.


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