Two Spirit starts without any music. We're shown a graphic of the title, and then we see a definition:
As the video unfolds, we meet several people who recount their experiences coming out. We start with a woman who is shown as a string puppet. She's transformed, though, and we see the string puppet dissolve into pieces. All the while she's talking, words slowly drift down the sides of the viewing window. They add an aesthetic dimension to the video:
There's a bit of history in Two Spirit. Prior to colonization, two spirit people were revered within Native Nations. That changed with the overwhelming force of Christianity:
Native resiliency and sovereignty are pushing back and embracing Two Spirit people. The stories shared in the Two Spirit video are evidence of personal resilience, and actions taken by some Native Nations to grant marriage licenses to individuals--regardless of gender--who are enrolled in a federally recognized tribe demonstrate the exercise of a tribal nations sovereignty.
I talked at length with Irvin Harrison, a close friend, about the Two Spirit video. I asked him if he could provide a comment about the film. He is the Director of the Native American Student Center at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. Irvin is a smart and nurturing individual. Students at Cal Poly Pomona are fortunate to have him there. Here's what he said:
"I really enjoyed the use of visuals to create meaning to the words. I can directly relate to each person's perspective. For myself, I use the terms - gay, two spirit, nádleehé - interchangeably depending on with whom I have a conversation. I did not become fully open of who I am until I moved out of my family home. I learned the two spirit history from readings and articles. It was my "professional" family who were the first to acknowledge and appreciate me and my partner's relationship. However, it was when both of our parents came to accept that being who we are, as gay, two spirit, or nádleehé couple, that it came full circle."
I highly recommend Two Spirit. It is beautiful and empowering and makes an additional point about where Native peoples live and what we aspire to:
I also recommend the other films at the INJUNUITY site and look forward to ones in development, too. They're ideal for use in high school classrooms. To read more about the project, check out their About page.
I'll also point you to a resource Irvin directed me to... It is called the Indigenous Ways of Knowing (IWOK) Tribal Equity Toolkit. Here's the description:
The Native American Program of Legal Aid Services of Oregon, the Indigenous Ways of Knowing Program at Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling, the Western States Center, the Pride Foundation and Basic Rights Oregon collaborated on the nation’s first guide for Two Spirit and LGBT equity in Indian Country.It, too, is evidence that Native peoples are moving in positive directions with regard to Two Spirit and LGBT people.