Two Spirits Rising

Historically, Native American Tribes Thought Gays Were Great!

Two SpiritsIn 1811, barely 10 years after Sacajawea brought Lewis and Clark through the Pacific Northwest, Fort Astoria fur-traders encountered a unique and curious individual. The traders were dumbfounded to observe the arrival of a young Kootenai Indian woman named Qangon, who brought and delivered a written message from a Spokane River trading post. That Qangon survived the 400-mile journey didn't surprise the traders nearly as much as the fact that she was dressed like a man, and brought her wife along.

It wasn't long before the traders' befuddlement led to gleeful acceptance, after realizing Qangon would be one hell of a qualified trapping guide to the interior's abundant natural resources. For the next 25 years, she worked as a professional Columbia and Snake Rivers guide, trapper, courier, and is still honored by the Kootenai people as a "warrior, prophetess, and peacemaker." During that time, between blazing trapper trails and living Kootenai tribal life she, in effect, walked between two worlds.

Qangon was a lesbian berdache, or Two-Spirit, and she wasn't alone. Historians say gay and lesbian Two-Spirits have existed in nearly every aboriginal culture, including virtually all North American aboriginal tribes. Two-Spirits were the trendsetters, the songwriters, the vanguard ambassadors to other cultures. Because they were considered to have a spiritual "foot in two worlds," Two-Spirits presided over conflict resolutions, acted as couples' counselors, and were prized as the best of shamans.

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Two-Spirit Resource Websites

Two Spirits Rising - A Fascinating History Lesson of First Nations Gays - by John Dooley

2 Spirited People of the First Nations (Centre for Indigenous Sovereignty)

2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations - Support, referrals, advocacy * HIV/AIDS education and prevention including distribution of male and female condoms, lubricant and Aboriginal resource material * needle exchange * same sex domestic violence information and referral * care teams and caregiver training * social events * free Internet access * volunteer opportunities

Areas served: Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Durham Region, East York, Etobicoke, Halton, Mississauga, North York, Scarborough, Toronto, York - Toronto, York Region

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