The 6th Annual Bay Area American Indian Two Spirits (BAAITS) pow wow is coming up this weekend and it’s sure to be one of the most popular on the California pow wow circuit. The BAAITS pow wow is currently the world’s’ only Two Spirit organized pow wow.
The pow wow will be on February 4th at the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason Center, in San Francisco, from 10am to 6pm. Last year’s gathering drew nearly 5,500 attendees, as well as the attention of several notable media outlets, Native celebrities, artists and vendors.
BAAITS is a community-based volunteer organization offering culturally relevant activities for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Native Americans, their families and friends. According to organizers, BAAITS offers a place for Two-Spirit people to explore their rich heritage through culturally-based activities in a safe, drug and alcohol free environment.
The BAAITS website explains the term Two-Spirit: “Two-Spirit refers to the commonly shared notion among many Native American tribes that some individuals naturally possessed and manifested both a masculine and feminine spiritual qualities. American society commonly identifies Two-Spirit People as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgender.”
“I think about how our pow wow continues to build bridges to a variety of communities, and brings our Two Spirits back into the circle. I think of the BAAITS pow wow, as a healing pow wow,” shared long-time committee member Ruth Villasenor.
“The BAAITS pow wow has long been a special event throughout the Bay Area community. The LGBTIQA2S+ community faces issues that many other folks would never encounter, so having this space and time to address the social and spiritual needs of the Native American Two-Spirit community is seen as a cathartic event.”
On February 4th, Two Spirit community members, allies and traditions will be honored. A Gourd Dance will kick off the festivities and Native Americans from the southeast will hold an exhibition Stomp Dance. Grand Entry will be at 12 noon.
A pre-pow wow celebration will be held at Center for Sex and Culture at 1349 Mission Street in San Francisco on Friday and will feature Native American foods, singing contests and other traditional activities.
Head Staff and Dancers:
Kaylene Diamond Baltys
Travis (Buffalo Barbie) Goldtooth
L. Frank Manriquez