Pride Month: 'Back to Indigenous values'

Patty Talahongva

June is Pride Month and there is a history of tribes historically accepting LGBTQ and Two Spirit people

June is Pride Month and today we look at how some tribes historically accepted LGBTQ and Two Spirit people. With colonization, things changed. Now, through time, tribes are starting to reject values imposed on them when it comes to accepting LGBTQ people. 

In Southern California, several tribes support this community. How are they doing that? And today, how does the LGBTQ community celebrate Pride Month? And how can straight allies support this community? 

To discuss decolonized love we have two guests. Wendy Schlater is the vice chairwoman of the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians. She is also the program director of the Avellaka Program and the Rainbow of Truth, both address LGBTQ issues. James Trujillo is the cultural advisor for the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians. 

Here are a few comments from James Trujillo: 

"We started looking back to our songs to ethnographic notes that were done from late 1800s to early 1900s and all the way into the mid-1930s. And, you know, with our people who were being interviewed at that time, they had discussed terms that were being used at that time for our LGBTQ two-spirit folks."

"We ran across some terms ... (that) embodies someone who embodies both male and female. We also found another term which in our songs that we sing, refers to a medicine staff. And that's a term that is being used to describe, or to bring about when you're talking about someone who is of the LGBTQ 2 community."

"We're just looking and going back to those Indigenous ways of thinking, those Indigenous terms from our people."

"One of our relatives from a tribe, to the East of us, they described them in the creation story where it talks about the sun and the moon. The moon being the feminine, the sun being the masculine. So they use the term in their language (for two spirit people). My relative shared that with us and he shared the creation story and talked about how it's from the time of beginning, from the time of creation when these things were brought about."

Here are a few comments from Vice Chairwoman Schlater: 

"It all started with our violence against women work in 2009 and creating safe spaces for our women and children to come to, to get help that were being physically, sexually abused."

"We address the sexual and physical violence in our community. And in doing the work, we also noticed that men were coming forward LGBTQ people, two spirit folks were coming forward and we didn't really have a safe space for our LGBTQ two spirit folks." 

"The only way that we knew that we were going to make an impact in our community was to build an advisory committee from our community and then also to put those safety measures and our tribal laws, which we go by our tribal value systems."

"It's so important to connect our work to our cultural value systems because our cultural value systems are what governed us pre U.S. constitution.

"Our people, our LGBTQ two spirit folk, were not discriminated against. We didn't really have those non-life affirming value system within our traditional governmental structure, that was introduced and imposed on us through colonialism."

"In creating those laws, which is today's peace and security ordinance, we went back to our cultural teachings and finding the words that described us and really working with our people to help decolonize their minds, their thinking because a lot of times our people suffer abuse from just the teachings that were imposed on them through boarding school, through religious institutions and things like that."

"We're really going back to the values of people, to help create that safe space for LGBTQ two spirit LGBTQ people."

"It's been a while. I would say probably late 80s when you see cultural revitalization programs starting to really develop in Indian Country and the push for tribes to get funding for language revitalization. And then you see a period in the 90s where people are really connecting back to the terms in their language and really using them intentionally."

"When you see the videos that we shared with you, with us marching in the parade, it was so important to get the tribal governments, our local 18 sister tribes, tribal governments on board with us."

"We called and asked to have their nations' flags in that parade with us to take a stand with us. And that was really important because it's just not a group of people saying we count, it's our tribal governments. It's our sovereign nations that are saying we count, and yes, we have our place within our circle and we have to come and reclaim it.

"It wasn't a labored effort in our families coming forward because it was really beautiful. We had a trans male come out, a youth come out that was struggling and to see his relatives come and join that parade and be a part of that was very beautiful."

"Being a part of the parade, I think is so validating because it really is a celebration of who we are as a people who creator created naturally."

"We're not like this because we choose to it's who we were born to be."

"So that was definitely a win-win (the recent SUPCO ruling), especially for our Native LGBTQ two spirit folks in the military that are out of jurisdiction. And of course, all of our federal LGBTQ two-spirit folks back in DC, BIA, working for the federal government."

"It's really important to really focus on not so much that victory, but to also reclaim our tribal sovereignty and create the same measures within our tribal government infrastructure."

Also in the newscast, Jourdan Bennett-Begaye has the latest numbers of positive COVID-19 tests in Indian Country.

The anchor and executive producer of the newscast is Patty Talahongva.

Comments (1)
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Tpepion

Please stop announcing your sexual preference because it is a private matter. No one needs to know.


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