Then and Now: 7 More Amazing Two-Spirit, LGBTQ Native People You Should Know

Smithsonian Institution archive / Old Doctor was a Tolowa spiritual leader who dressed in both male and female garments and jewelry.

In celebration of Pride Month, ICTMN honors and recognizes pioneers in the LGBTQ community, both past and present.

Honoring this Two Spirit/LGBTQ pride, here are seven more Two Spirit/LGBTQ Natives you should know about:

Old Doctor (Tolowa)

Old Doctor was a Tolowa spiritual leader who dressed in both male and female garments and jewelry. In the photo above, Old Doctor is wearing a traditional women’s cap, according to Arnold R. Pilling’s essay Cross-Dressing and Shamanism. Old Doctor had a wife and a son. It is believed Old Doctor died during a spiritual training after he disappeared in the wild.

Steven Barrios (Long Time Holy Rain)

Steven Barrios is a Two Spirit leader and a member of the Montana Two Spirit Society. Barrios served on the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center (NNAAPC) Harm Reduction Board. He was also a member of the HIV planning group which helped author the Montana 2012-2016 Integrated HIV Treatment and Prevention Plan.

Barrios is an active member of the Montana Gay Men’s Task Force, which works to improve the health of gay and bisexual men. In 2015, Barrios was the Montana Two Spirit Society keynote speaker at the Gender Expansion Trans* Health Conference.

Randy Burns (Northern Paiute)

In 1975, Randy Burns cofounded Gay American Indians (GAI), a San Francisco based organization. GAI was founded to address discrimination from urban Indian communities Burns and gay Indians faced. According to Sabine Lang’s essay Various Kinds of Two-Spirit People, Burns said, “[W]e had had to fight like hell to be recognized. We had to fight to be at the table along with our ‘straight’ leadership, and if we came to the table they would get up and walk out of the room.” Burns said LGBTQ2S people represent tradition. “We are living the spirit of our gay indian ancestors.”

In 1984, the GAI history project was formed, resulting in the publication of the book Living the Spirit that includes a preface written by Burns.

Shawnee Talbot (Six Nations)

Shawnee Talbot is a Two Spirit singer. Also known as She King, Talbot performed at the Canadian Lesbian+Gay Archive (CLGA) 2nd Annual Disco Gala. CLGA is dedicated to the recovery of LGBTQ histories. Talbot was featured in DIVA, CBS Music, and Tagg Magazine. In 2013, she shared the stage with Lady Gaga during Talbot’s This Is Me tour in New York City.

Watch Talbot’s CLGA performance and Shawnee Live in Toronto music video.

Talbot’s Let It Burn album is available on iTunes. Follow Talbot on Twitter at @Shawneemusic and www.shawneemusic.com

Lozen (Chiricahua Apache)

Photo Credit: Arizona Historical Society/Tucson. Lozen and Dahteste, second row, sixth and fifth figures from the right.

Lozen was a rider, roper, and warrior. She joined Geronimo and his war band from 1880 until Geronimo’s surrender in 1886. According to Will Roscoe’s Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America, Victorio, the Warm Springs chief, reportedly said, “Lozen is my right hand. Strong as a man, braver than most, and cunning in strategy, Lozen is a shield to her people.” Lozen was a mediator and negotiated with the army, along with another woman, Dahteste, Lozen’s romantic partner.

Trudie Jackson (Diné)

Trudie Jackson is a transgender advocate and recipient of the 2008 Marty Prairie Award from the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center (NNAAPC). In 2013, Jackson was Echo Magazine’s Woman of the Year. In 2015, she was selected as a Trans Justice Funding Project panelist and a Trans Leadership Exchange participant. Jackson is Pageant Director of the Miss Indian Transgender Arizona Pageant which celebrated its ten year anniversary in December 2015.

Kuilix (Pend d’Oreille)

Kuilix was a distinguished warrior who dressed partially in men’s clothing. Observed by Jesuit father Nicholas Point, in Roscoe’s Changing Ones, Kuilix was the first into battle against a large party of Blackfeet. Point wrote, “Her bravery surprised the warriors who were humiliated and indignant because it was a woman who had led the charge, and so they threw themselves into the breach where nature’s shelter had protected the enemy.” In 1846, Kuilix battled the Crow wielding only an axe which is illustrated by Point above. The caption reads: “A woman warrior’s swift about-face left the enemy stupefied.”

D.A. (Hopi, Pima, Zuni, Yavapai-Apache) is a Seattle-based writer. Follow D.A. on Twitter at @DANavoti

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