two-spirit talk and discussion

Understanding the “Two-Spirit” traditions


This event will be held in the Yachats Commons Multi-Purpose Room at 4:15pm.

In this introduction and discussion of Two-Spirit traditions, we will view a short video followed by a discussion led by two members from the Siletz Tribe.


Lisa Norton, Executive Director at My Sister’s Place in Newport, OR



Robert Kentta, Siletz Tribal Cultural Resources Director and elected member of the Tribal Council of The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians

“Two-Spirit” is a contemporary umbrella English-language term that refers to the historical and current First Nations people whose individual spirits were essentially a blend of female and male spirits, or whose gender identity did not match their biological sex.

Effeminate males and masculine females are the stereotypes that come to mind, but it goes much deeper than that, and is tied to spirituality, and community supported roles, rather than behavior considered “outside the norm”.

The Two-Spirit people in most of pre-European-contact Native America were often highly revered and families that included them were considered lucky. Two-Spirit people were often recognized as specialized healers and often had ceremonial roles that only could be filled by them. Indians believed that a person who was able to see the world through the eyes of both genders at the same time was a gift from The Creator.  This term has been reclaimed by Native American LGBT communities in order to honor their heritage, mend their communities, and provide an alternative to the Western labels of gay, lesbian, or transgender.

Historically, Two-Spirit roles were one of the most widely shared fTwo Spirit Faceeatures of North American traditional societies. They have been documented in every region of the continent, among speakers of every major language group, and in every culture area, from the hunters of the arctic, to the foragers of native California, the Pueblo farmers of the Southwest, and the nomadic warrior-hunters of the Great Plains. Nonetheless, because of the catastrophic disruption experienced by so many tribes as a result of their contact with Europeans and their colonization/missionary work, we can never know the absolute frequency or significance of Two-Spirit people in many traditional cultures.

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