Reclaiming Two-Spirits: Sexuality, Spiritual Renewal & Sovereignty in Native America (PB)

SKU: 9780807008195

Gregory D. Smithers
Grade Levels:
Twelve, College, University
Book Type:
Beacon Press
Copyright Date:

Sale price$28.95


By author Gregory Smithers with a foreword by Raven E. Heavy Runner.

A sweeping history of Indigenous traditions of gender, sexuality, and resistance that reveals how, despite centuries of colonialism, Two-Spirit people are reclaiming their place in Native nations.

Reclaiming Two-Spirits decolonizes the history of gender and sexuality in Native North America. It honors the generations of Indigenous people who had the foresight to take essential aspects of their cultural life and spiritual beliefs underground in order to save them.

Before 1492, hundreds of Indigenous communities across North America included people who identified as neither male nor female, but both. They went by aakíí’skassi, miati, okitcitakwe, or one of hundreds of other tribally specific identities. After European colonizers invaded Indian Country, centuries of violence and systematic persecution followed, imperiling the existence of people who today call themselves Two-Spirits, an umbrella term denoting feminine and masculine qualities in one person.

Drawing on written sources, archaeological evidence, art, and oral storytelling, Reclaiming Two-Spirits spans the centuries from Spanish invasion to the present, tracing massacres and inquisitions and revealing how the authors of colonialism’s written archives used language to both denigrate and erase Two-Spirit people from history. But as Gregory Smithers shows, the colonizers failed—and Indigenous resistance is core to this story. Reclaiming Two-Spirits amplifies their voices, reconnecting their history to Native nations in the 21st century.

“From the onset of colonization until well into the present, the discourse and histories of Two-Spirit Indigenous peoples remains a puzzle for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike. Reclaiming Two-Spirits will help you solve that puzzle. Using familiar and obscure stories, Smithers skillfully reveals the centrality of Two-Spirit struggles within the matrix of settler colonial domination and the Indigenous struggle for freedom. He reveals the destructive nature of colonial violence and the possibilities of a Two-Spirit future. An original contribution to Indigenous cultural and intellectual histories, an understanding of the links between language and power, and Indigenous futures, this book will not only educate your mind, but will also touch your spirit.” —Kyle T. Mays (Black/Saginaw Chippewa), author of An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States.

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