An article by Cecelia LaPointe, who refers to “Two-Spirit”
which addresses and rekindles awareness of Native Gender
identity, was in the Ohio “Outlook” magazine. This was my
resource which I used finding great Christmas music lists
and an article about Bette Midler in December.
In November, Cecelia came to OSU campus to host a poetry
workshop and speak on racial identity and the “Two-Spirit”
existence. Ms. LaPointe has also visited Columbus during
both Native American Heritage Month and Trans-gender
Awareness Week. (Two opportunities I missed last year to
feature in my monthly calendar.)
Indigenous communities of Native Americans use the “Two-
Spirit” label to denote gender variations within their people.
In the world, they consider Europe and American cultures
“binary” genders. “Two-Spirits” become a third or even fourth
gender among native societies.
“Two-Spirits” are denoted or designated from birth, through
a ritual. This belief of a person embodying masculine and
feminine spirits, two ‘identities inhabiting a single body’ is
not considered ‘weird,’ ‘strange’ or ‘inappropriate.’ Instead
the Native Americans ’embrace’ the different way of life.
Two things mentioned in this essay about Cecelia and her
tribe’s belief in what sets these particular people known as
1.) They dress and change their choice of who they are from
day to day. They are not all ‘one way’ in their feminine or
2.) They may choose to carry out tasks or labor, not dependent
on their outward appearance. Gender roles are not delineated
or dictated in the “Two-Spirit” existence.
For example: A person could go out on a hunt or go to war, but
at other times may dress in women’s clothing and carry out
domestic chores. Women could become ‘warriors’ or chiefs
over their native tribes.
Interestingly, according to Ms. LaPointe, “Two-Spirits” were
not only tolerated, but they were ‘revered.’ For instance, they
were well respected and considered, ‘powerful.’ They often were
given special roles such as healers, mediators and counselors.
There are instances where bigotry of “Two-Spirits” has been
carried out. When historians bring up the arguments of their
contributions and respected positions it is to counterbalance
those who say Native Americans are “transphobic.”
Sometimes, Natives would bring up “tradition” as a reason to
exclude people who chose to carry out their ‘birthright’ as
“Two-Spirit” people. They would be acting close-minded to
the long history of the revered members of their tribes.
Ancestors of Native Americans were not against “Two-Spirit”
people, elders were often of this delineation.
Ms. LaPointe brings up Spanish missionaries as those who
planted the ‘bad seeds’ which germinated prejudice against
“Two-Spirited” people. “They (Two-Spirit) were essentially
the first victim in the campaign of colonial violence against
the native population of the Americas.”
Ms. LaPointe considers herself of ‘mixed descent’ and feels
she is part of “both cultures, both worlds.” She grew up in a
Detroit suburb and lives in the northern town of Manistee.
She travels to her reservation in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula)
regularly. She is a descendant of the Anishinaabekwe Tribe,
native of the Great Lakes region.
Cecelia LaPointe says her reservation is very small yet it is her
“home.” This is where she goes to be with family members. Some
of her own family members hold leadership positions within her
tribe. It is part of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. Being
located far from the city means it is a positive place for her to
retreat. It is also good since. . .
‘There is less influence from the dominant culture there.’
Ms. LaPointe reaches out to others, through her writing
and public speaking. By going to college campuses, she
can share her poetry and also, her viewpoint where the
students may be encouraged to be ‘themselves.’ She hopes
to reverse the history of discrimination against both the
Native Americans and also, those who are filled with what
they call, “Two-Spirit.”
There was a wonderful piece of artwork that accompanied
this article in “Outlook,” November issue. It has the artist,
George Catlin’s (1796-1872) painting called, “Dance to the
Berdache.” This was drawn while the Sac and Fox people
of the Great Plains were engaging in a ceremonial dance to
celebrate the “Two-Spirit” person.
Here is a part of a poem that talks of her emotions,
“Poem: Ajijaak Dodem Anokil
It is so precious,
Those tears on my hands,
Covering my face,
This grieving is beautiful,
You see we had felt those knives turned inward
On our family. . .”
You may wish to check out Cecelia Rose LaPointe’s poetry
or speaking schedule and other special events at:
My youngest daughter and I recently saw, “The Imitation Game,”
which depicts an underlying sadness within the main character.
It is a true story about Alan Turing, a genius. He was the inventor
of a de-coding machine that ‘beat’ Germany’s war coding machine,
“The Enigma.” This British machine helped the Allies win World
War II against the Germans.
Apparently, Alan Turing was a man who faced accusations and
there were parts of the film which eluded to his sexual preferences.
This movie brought up the problems that people historically have
faced (and are still overcoming). The end of the movie has details
about large numbers, unfortunately, of people who were thrown in
British prisons, due to their homosexuality.
The actor is one I enjoy as “Sherlock” on PBS and also, has been
in the “Dr. Who” British television series. His name is Benedict
Cumberbatch. You can see him in more than one 2013 Academy
Award nominated movie, since he played in “12 Years a Slave”
and “August: Osage County.”
The woman who befriends him and who is very talented in
decoding and helping with the Turing Machine, is played by the
wonderful actress, Keira Knightley. My favorite role she has
played was in, “Pride and Prejudice,” but there are many more
films to see her in.
After the movie, when I talked with my youngest daughter who had
cried (as I did, too) during some of the tender and intense parts of the
film, we both agreed upon deep emotions we have in common.
We also share values my parents and siblings embrace.
It is hard to understand why anyone would be so offended by
someone’s personal choices.
Sadly, the United States has had many different areas where
numbers of people who chose to be ‘different’ from what some
may perceive as ‘normal’ or ‘mainstream.’ Obviously, numerous
people are still either bullied or face judges in court rooms.
Persecutions in the United States have been appalling and we
talked about our abhorrence of this.
No country is totally ‘innocent’ of negative practices of prejudice
and persecution. “Racial profiling” has been a problem within our
extended family. (My oldest daughter’s father of little Micah is
bi-racial. Mainly, since 9/11/2001, he has had taunts and threats
due to his outward appearance. In his younger years, he says at
least in Delaware, Ohio, he found people wanting to be his friend
throughout his schooling and working years.)
The numbers of those imprisoned, at the end of the movie, were
such that we just shook our head and looked at each other through
teary eyes, in disbelief. Felicia asked me, “How can anyone feel
they have the right to judge someone else?”
This article about Native Americans and “Two Spirit” individuals
was saved in my WordPress drafts. It helped me to feel that there
is a positive force to include gays and lesbians within the Native
tribes. Their ‘explanation’ or interesting philosophy towards people
who choose to follow two different genders created new thoughts
in my mind. Mother Nature has some unique qualities which I
embrace, sometimes intuitively.
Of course, I have mentioned before. . . I have hope for our future
in the possibility that all peoples can accept and embrace our
Written in Memoriam of Alan Turing, scientist, original computer
inventor and mathematician who committed suicide at age 41, a
few weeks before his 42nd birthday in June, 1954.
Queen Elizabeth II gave Alan Turing a post-humous “pardon” in
2013 for his criminal charges and offenses.