1990 Indigenous lesbian and gay international gathering: adoption of the umbrella term Two-Spirit (Driskill 72)
–> Defined as having both a male and female gender
Historically served as mediators between women, men and spirit, and often adopted roles of “healers, people of medicine, […] storytellers, seers and visionaries, artists and artisans” (41).
Main argument: studying Two-Spirit people leads to a wider issue: the absence of object to represent their identities vs the presence of objects from non-Two Spirit people to judge or criticise them.
–>Look at performance studies specifically as a way to seize back control of one’s identity.
1) Kent Monkman’s art.: widely-recognized, interdisciplinary Two-Spirit Swampy Cree contemporary artist, who plays with sexuality and gender to reinsert queer Indigenous narratives into colonial history. June Scudeler argues that “if he sees sexuality in many Indigenous cultures as a fluid concept, Monkman also sees history as a fluid concept” (111). Indeed, Monkman’s alter ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle is a Two-Spirit time traveler featured heavily in his work, who reverses colonial power relationships by putting “the Indian on top” in “acts of erotic sovereignty” (Scudeler 110). –> OUT OF TIME (Conference notes)
Monkman’s installation draws upon historical and colonial representations of queer Indigenous people and rituals, to metaphorically reclaim their eroticized bodies as well as their historical and territorial presence. The work echoes a painting by George Catlin, American painter and author who sought to document the ‘vanishing Indian’ during his travels. His painting Dance to the Berdashe (figure 5) depicts a “dance common among the Sauk and Fox nations, of warriors dancing around Berdashe” (Monkman), which the painter later described in highly derogatory terms, as an “unaccountable and disgusting custom ”that he wished could “be extinguished” (Catlin 214-215).
2) In A Journey In Gender (Aiyyana Maracle): queerphobia in Indigenous communities has been a result of colonisation and has had influence for many generations now, leading some elders to impose Christian or Eurocentric values in their communities. Presence of the Church “have been the determinants of the moment when the genders beyond male and female went underground” (42).
3) More generally, Disconnect between academic studies about Two-Spirit people and the lived experiences of members of the community; the latter are often unable to meet and connect with each other