Native Americans talk gender identity at a ‘two-spirit’ powwow

Fusion

San Francisco’s Cow Palace has hosted livestock expositions, Rolling Stones concerts, and a U.S. heavyweight championship.

But this Saturday, it was home to something really special: the nation’s only Native American powwow for “two-spirited” tribe members that’s open to the public.

Two-spirited people don’t all define themselves in the same way. Many say they embody both male and female characteristics, and that such a role was recognized and honored by their tribes before colonization. Others might identify as gay when they’re around outsiders.

At the Cow Palace, they came together seeking community, and to raise awareness of some of the issues that LGBT people face on reservations, like hate crimes and high rates of suicide.

The term “two-spirit” is a relatively modern term but the concept is not. And the concept of a more complicated gender system has become fairly common in the mainstream: Half of all Millennials believe that…

View original post 1,077 more words

Maslow’s hierarchy connected to Blackfoot beliefs

You always have a choice.

A Digital Native American

This slide shows basic differences between Western and First Nations perspectives, as presented by University of Alberta professor Cathy Blackstock at the 2014 conference of the National Indian Child Welfare Association. This slide shows basic differences between Western and First Nations perspectives, as presented by University of Alberta professor Cathy Blackstock at the 2014 conference of the National Indian Child Welfare Association.

I first heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in an advertising course I took in college many years ago. I remember looking at the pyramid and its five layers – with basic needs at the bottom and “self-actualization” at the top – and thinking that self-actualization belonged in the foundation.

It turns out I was thinking like a Blackfoot.

At a conference last week of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, I learned that Abraham Maslow, one of the founders of humanistic psychology, borrowed generously from the Blackfoot people to refine his motivational theory on the hierarchy of needs.

Briefly, Maslow’s theory suggests that humans are motivated to fulfill first the most basic of needs, such as…

View original post 617 more words