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Two-Spirit - Spring 2021

by Kyra Gomes and Russ Tallchief

“Two-Spirit” is an umbrella term used by some Native Americans to represent individuals who are gender-fluid. The notion of only two genders is a social construct ingrained deeply within Western culture.

However, in Native American cultures, there are numerous gender identities and phrases used to describe these individuals. The Potawatomi have a male-assigned name for their Two-Spirit members: M’netokwe, which means “supernatural and extraordinary.” The Osage, Omaha, and Ponca also have the male-assigned name Mixuiga, which means “instructed by the moon.” The Cherokee use a male-assigned name, Nudale Asgaya (“different man”), a female-assigned name, Nudale Agehya (“different woman”), and a general name, Asegi.

Today, there are many active Two-Spirit societies around the country. Each year in June, the Central Oklahoma Two-Spirit Society participates in Oklahoma City’s Pride Parade.

People who identify as Two-Spirit, like others who hold multiple and intersecting identities, represent a range of professional positions in and across our country.

At Oklahoma City University, we have added “2S” at the front of the “LGBTQIA+” acronym. “2S” resides in the front of our spectrum initialism to represent the tribes who were protectors of this land before it was colonized. We are fortunate to be residing on this land, and it is crucial to include “2S” in “2SLGBTQIA+” to acknowledge and respect the history of Native peoples across the diaspora.

In the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, we will be steadfast in our commitment to educate ourselves and seek ways to incorporate indigenous culture into our curricular and co-curricular learning experiences at OCU. We invite you to learn more about this topic, too!

Gomes is a musical theater\/vocal performance major and student program coordinator with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Tallchief is director of Student Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

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