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  • TWO TAKES ON TWO SPIRITS | Recording the History of Multiple Genders in Native North America

    by Guest Blogger Gregory Hinton, Out West Curator | Sep 11, 2013

    Many explorers, missionaries, traders, soldiers and artists reported sightings of third or fourth gender (Berdache, Two Spirit) tribal members on their travels through the American West and of the perceived acceptance they observed in their clans.  That said, some were disdainful of the practice of assuming opposite gender characteristics, including artist, showman and entrepreneur George Catlin (1796 – 1872) best known for his international traveling Indian Gallery which included over 500 paintings, drawings and artifacts.

    GEORGE CATLIN
    Traveling west five times in the 1830’s, Catlin was the first artist to record the Plains Indians in their original terrain, seeing them as the embodiment of “natural man” living in harmony with the environment.  

    Feeling certain that westward expansion heralded their certain doom, Catlin viewed his Indian Gallery as a way "to rescue from oblivion their primitive looks and customs."  Catlin’s expressed bias against the Berdache practice may well have been informed by the prevailing Euro-American opinion of what constituted “natural” in his day. 

    Catlin wrote in his papers:

    “This is one of the most unaccountable and disgusting customs, that I have ever met in the Indian country, and so far as I have been able to learn, belongs only to the Sioux and Sacs and Foxes— perhaps it is practiced by other tribes, but I did not meet with it; and for further account of it I am constrained to refer the reader to the country where it is practiced, and where I should wish that it might be extinguished before it be more fully recorded.

    Ironically, George Catlin best immortalized them in his painting Dance to the Berdache –Saukie ,now in the National Gallery of Art. 

    George Catlin Dance of the Berdache
    George Catlin (1796-1872), Dance of the Berdache. Drawn while on the Great Plains, among the Sac and Fox Indians, the sketch depicts a ceremonial dance to celebrate the two-spirit person.

    HUGH LENNOX SCOTT
     
    Conversely, in 1877, five years after the death of Catlin, Hugh Lennox Scott, (1853-1934) a young Seventh Calvary lieutenant first became aware of third gender males after arriving in the big camp of Mountain and River Crow country at the mouth of the Big Horn. 

    The demands on Scott in his early avocation distracted him from his youthful cognition of third and fourth gender natives, but he later vowed to take “every opportunity to study the matter among Indians of various tribes.” 

    Custer’s disastrous defeat notwithstanding, once self-sufficient tribes were now wards of the ultimately victorious U.S. government.  Officers like Scott were tasked with their care, including the distribution of rations and the enforcement of order and regulation of their social and religious life.

    Scott needed to know how to communicate and took it upon himself to master the Plains Indian gesture (sign) language.  Scott’s intellectual curiosity and affinity for other cultures would stand him – and the Presidents he would eventually serve throughout his career - in good stead and he eventually became a Major General.
    hugh lennox scott
    Major General Hugh Lennox Scott with Buffalo Bill Cody
    courtesy bbhc.org

    He wrote in his memoirs that his “contacts with many races and colors... have contributed much to the delightful memories of a soldier’s career.” 

    Osh TischScott’s research on third gender Natives led him to investigate prominent texts of European anthropologists and sexologists.  In 1919, on occasion of an official inspection on behalf of the Board of Indian Commissioners, Hugh Scott secured an interview with a third-gender Crow woman named Osh-Tisch, or “Woman Jim” as he called him (pictured left)

    He gained her trust by sharing memories about old Crow chiefs he had met in 1877 – Iron Bull, Blackfoot, Old Crow, Two Belly, etc.”  He knew that Osh-Tisch had built a much-admired lodge for Iron Bull, which until recently was displayed at Crow Fair in Montana.

     With utmost gentlemanly tact, Scott asked her why she wore women’s clothes.

    “That is my road”, Osh-Tisch replied. 

     --Gregory Hinton

    Bloggers Note: For a much more in-depth study of the story of Osh-Tisch and Hugh Lennox Scott, I strongly recommend Will Roscoe’s CHANGING ONE, Third and Fourth Genders in Native North American, which I gratefully acknowledge in the writing of this blog.

    ---
    To meet Greg Hinton and learn more about the Two-Spirit experience, visit the Eiteljorg Museum, at 12:30 p.m., Saturday, Sep. 28 for a screening of the powerful documentary, Two Spirits. The film focuses on the brief life and hate crime murder of Two-Spirit teen Fred Martinez. The film and panel discussion will also cover the history of Two-Spirit cultures. To help the Eiteljorg fund this project, please make a donation to Power2Give.

    Here is a preview of Two Spirits:

    Click for Video
    From the website, twospirits.org.
     
    Two Spirits screening schedule for Sep. 28.
    12:30 p.m. Welcome by Gregory Hinton, Out West founder
    12:45 p.m. "Two Spirits" film screening
    1:45 – 3:30 p.m. Panel discussion
    3:30 p.m. DVD/book signing Eiteljorg Museum Store

    PANEL
     - Moderator: Jodi A. Byrd, Ph.D. (Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma), associate professor of American Indian Studies and English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
     - Lydia Nibley, director, Two Spirits
     
    - Brian Joseph Gilley, Ph.D. (Cherokee of Oklahoma), associate professor of anthropology and director of the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center, Indiana University Bloomington; author of Becoming Two-Spirit
     
    - Wesley K. Thomas, Ph.D. (Diné), chair/professor, School of Diné Studies, Education & Leadership, Navajo Technical College (Crownpoint, NM)

    Go comment!




  • Eiteljorg Insider: 5 Questions with Western Art Society member David Anderson

    by Guest blogger David Anderson, Western Art Society | Sep 03, 2013

    I am a stay-at-home dad or, as I sometimes prefer to be known, professional minivan driver. My wife, Caryn, and I have three kids who have gone from diapers to teenagers in the blink of an eye. I dabble in creative writing, like to golf and ski, and spend a fair amount of time chasing volleyball and hockey schedules.

    What is your favorite piece in the Eiteljorg’s permanent collection?
    Eanger Irving Couse, The Wedding, 1924
    The Wedding, 1924
    Eanger Irving Couse (1866-1936)
    Oil
    Gift: Courtesy of Harrison Eiteljorg

    That’s a tough one. I love Eanger Irving Couse’s The Wedding because I identify that with the Eiteljorg and we had a poster of it as one of our first wall hangings right after we got married. But I’m going to have to say Dan Smith’s Stillwater Crossing. It’s a piece that just sticks with me. Like all of Dan’s work, it is amazingly detailed. The wild eyes and the head above water give it a unique perspective that makes it a very moving example of wildlife art. (Pictured: Stillwater Crossing, 2009, Daniel Smith (1954), Acrylic, 2009 Quest for the West Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award.)

    If you could invite any artist to dinner, who would it be and why?
    Well, as part of Quest for the West, I’ve been lucky to be able to participate in basically inviting 50 artists to dinner for a weekend every September. The best part of the show has been to get to know the artists. But if I had to limit it to one, I would invite George Hallmark because it would be fitting since he was the first artist I met. I was in a gallery during my first trip to Scottsdale. I was admiring Hallmark’s work and said to the fellow next to me, "I don’t know much about art but I like this guy’s work." It turned out that the fellow next to me was George. We had a great conversation that was the beginning of me becoming hooked on Western art. 

    What book are you reading right now?
    I am reading The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I am a fan of young adult literature and The Princess Bride is one of my all time favorite movies. I realized that I had never read the book. It is a very interesting premise: it is an abridged version of a classic novel that never existed. Goldman is a talented writer, having written the screenplays for movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Maverick, and Misery.


    Caryn and David Anderson

    Why do you collect Western Art?
    I started as an enabler for my wife, who is genetically predisposed to it. Caryn’s parents, Ed and Phyllis Cockerill are original members of the Western Art Society. We discovered our own passion for it, and I think it has to do with the combination of history and beauty that is represented by the genre. To a large extent, the story of the West is the story of America. It holds most of our natural monuments and represents our greatest triumphs as well as our greatest tragedies. And, living in the Midwest, it is awfully nice to sit in our house, admire the art, and take a virtual vacation to the places and stories represented.

    What inspires you?
    Extrinsically speaking, trips to the National Parks, standing on the top of a snow covered mountain, and writers who are doing great work. Intrinsically, I am inspired by the notion that "it is over before you know it" and it is imperative to do something.

    Go comment!




  • Quest for the West artist Howard Post

    by Quest artist Howard Post | Aug 29, 2013

    When I was first invited to show in the Eiteljorg Museum’s New Art of the West show 23 years ago I thought, “How peculiar, a museum for western American art in Indianapolis of all places…” Of course after visiting the museum and learning the story of the Eiteljorg family and their great love of Indian and Western art, I was pleasantly surprised, particularly to be a part of what I consider one of the premier museums in the country. From my first involvement with the Eiteljorg my experiences have been first rate, a real treat.

    Obviously, as an artist it’s an honor to be invited to participate in any of the museum shows, but particularly so to have that opportunity with Quest for the West at a major venue like the Eiteljorg.

    Howard Post
    Corrals in the Country, 2013
    Oil
    12 X 24 in.

    Howard Post
    Distant Storm, 2013
    Oil
    40 x 30 in.

    Howard Post
    Two in the Canyon, 2013
    Oil
    24x36 in.

    One of the impressive things about Quest and the Eiteljorg is how the support base has grown over the years. Obviously, in a Midwest setting, the Western genre is not the most typical or prominent in the area, yet the strong and consistent collector list for the museum seems to grow each year. As one of the artists, we’d love to take credit for that. How can people resist such great work? Of course, honesty and modesty kick in to credit the efforts of the staff and countless others associated with the museum to help make it happen.

    I will mention one of the challenges for a participating artist. With the invitation comes the subconscious pressure to  provide your very best work to the show. Knowing you will be hanging with a group of 50 quality artists is a welcome challenge for sure, but brings with it a self imposed pressure never the less. Personally, I simply try to stay focused on portraying my own perspective of the West I know, executing it the best I can, and hoping viewers will discover something that speaks to them.

    2013 Quest for the West® artist Howard Post

    MORE ON THE 8TH ANNUAL QUEST FOR THE WEST® ART SHOW AND SALE
    Opening weekend: Sept. 6 & 7

    Some of the world’s most celebrated artists, whose work captures the spirit and strength of the American West and Native cultures, will exhibit and offer for sale prized paintings, drawings and sculptures during the Quest for the West® Art Show and Sale. Quest features 50 artists whose exceptional work attracts art enthusiasts and collectors from across the nation. Guests will appreciate the unique opportunity to meet the artist(s) whose precious work(s) may become their newest acquisitions. Collectors unable to attend opening weekend may register as absentee buyers and purchase art from afar. A Friday evening reception will honor 2012 Quest Artist of Distinction John Coleman and open a special exhibit of his work. The Quest exhibit is open to the public Sept. 8 through Oct. 6. The Coleman show closes Nov. 17.

    * Visitors must pay to attend this event: Reservations are required for weekend activities. Participation costs $300 per person ($250 for Eiteljorg Museum members) and includes an exhibition catalog, bid book and attendance at all related events. There are special prices for couples. More information on the show and sale can be found in the Quest for the West section of www.eiteljorg.org.  The site also allows visitors to find artist profiles, images of works for sale, a full schedule of events and much more.

    Go comment!




  • Becoming Two-Spirit | Excerpt from book on Native American Gay Identity and Social Acceptance

    by Brian Joseph Gilley | Photos and additional info provided by DeShong Perry-Smitherman, Eiteljorg public relations manager | Aug 28, 2013


    Traditional Navajo/Diné people recognize four genders and hold a respected place for same-sex unions within their culture.

    The Two-Spirit man occupies a singular place in Native American culture, balancing the male and the female spirit even as he tries to blend gay and Native identity. At 12:30 p.m., Saturday, Sep. 28, learn more about the Two-Spirit identity during the screening of Two Spirits and a panel discussion at the Eiteljorg Museum. In his book, Becoming Two-Spirit, Indiana University professor Brian Joseph Gilley features Two-Spirit men who speak frankly of homophobia within their communities, a persistent prejudice that is largely misunderstood or misrepresented by outsiders. Here is an excerpt from the book. 

    Gender Diversity and the Cultural Crossfire
    Two-Spirit men are well aware that at one time in the history of Native America, mostly before European contact, sexual and gender diversity was an everyday aspect of life among indigenous peoples. The following historical overview of Native American gender diversity is intended to help frame the ways contemporary Two-Spirit men are in the cultural crossfire between contemporary constructions of Native identity and historical knowledge. As we will see throughout the book, the history of acceptance of sexuality and gender diversity within Native communities places Two-Spirit men’s desires at odds with contemporary community expectations. Two-Spirit men are well aware that at one time in the history of Native America, mostly before European contact, sexual and gender diversity was an everyday aspect of life among indigenous peoples. The following historical overview of Native American gender diversity is intended to help frame the ways contemporary Two-Spirit men are in the cultural crossfire between contemporary constructions of Native identity and historical knowledge. As we will see throughout the book, the history of acceptance of sexuality and gender diversity within Native communities places Two-Spirit men’s desires at odds with contemporary community expectations.

    What scholars generically refer to “Native American gender diversity” was a fundamental institution among most tribal peoples. The fact that there were men among North America’s tribal peoples who preferred to do women’s work, dressed in a mixture of female and male clothing, and had sexual and domestic relationships with men is extensively documented in the academic and colonial –era literature. However, among Native societies these male-bodied gender-different people, referred to as “berdaches” in the academic and colonial literature, were in fact not considered men; rather, they were a separate or third gender (Roscoe 1993:336-349). Lang refers to the male bodied third-gender person as women-men, which I find a convenient descriptive term in lieu of the colonial term berdache (1998, xvi). Not to be confused with transvestitism, this third gender often embodied a mixture of the social, ceremonial, and economic roles of men and women. For example, among the Zuni there were men, women and lhamana. Lhamana was the third gender occupied by a male-bodied person. The lhamana dressed as women and performed women’s crafts such as weaving and potting, but also had the physical strength to fulfill certain male-oriented pursuits such as hunting big game and cutting firewood (Roscoe 1991:22-28).
    - Becoming Two-Spirit, Brian Joseph Gilley, p 7-8

    Gilley's panel and book signing is at 12:30 p.m., Saturday, Sep. 28 as part of the museum's Out West series. The signing takes place after the screening of the powerful documentary, Two Spirits. This film is about the brief life and tragic hate-crime murder of Two-Spirit teen Fred Martinez. 
     

     SEP. 28 OUT WEST SCHEDULE

    12:30 p.m. Welcome by Gregory Hinton, Out West founder
    12:45 p.m. "Two Spirits" film screening
    1:45 – 3:30 p.m. Panel discussion
    3:30 p.m. DVD/book signing Eiteljorg Museum Store
     
    Two SpiritsTWO SPIRITS PANEL
     - Moderator: Jodi A. Byrd, Ph.D. (Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma), associate professor of American Indian Studies and English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
      - Lydia Nibley, director, Two Spirits
      
    - Brian Joseph Gilley, Ph.D. (Cherokee of Oklahoma), associate professor of anthropology and director of the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center, Indiana University Bloomington; author of Becoming Two-Spirit
      
    - Wesley K. Thomas, Ph.D. (Diné), chair/professor, School of Diné Studies, Education & Leadership, Navajo Technical College (Crownpoint, NM)

    About Out West
    Out West was conceived by author and independent curator Gregory Hinton. Hinton created the program series to illuminate positive contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community to the history and culture of the American West.

    Support LGBT Programming at the Eiteljorg
    Donate to

    Help support the screening and discussion of the powerful film, TWO SPIRITS, an acclaimed PBS Independent Lens documentary that tells the story of the brief life and tragic murder of transgender Navajo teen, Fred Martinez. The film, including a panel discussion, will take place at 12:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28.

    To donate to this project, click
    Power2Give. Chase Bank will contribute one dollar for every dollar donated. To learn more about the film visit the website: twospirits.org.

    Photo #1 credit - Historic photo of Navajo couple from the collection of the Museum of New Mexico. Photographer: Bosque Redondo 1866. 

     

    Go comment!




  • The best of the West head to Indy for Quest Art Show and Sale

    by James H. Nottage, vice president and chief curatorial officer | Aug 26, 2013

    Walks in Beauty, 2013
    John Coleman, Walks in Beauty, 2013
    Bronze, 24x19x12 inches

    High-end paintings and sculptures, spirited discussions about Western art, plus the chance to meet artists and collectors in the comfort of a Hoosier home – three reasons you won’t want to miss the eighth annual Quest for the West® art show and sale! Quest begins Friday, Sept. 6 with several events. Then it’s game on Saturday, Sept. 7 with the thrilling sale.  The exhibit opens to the public Sunday, Sept. 8, and will run through Oct., 6.  Excitement is building, registration is up and there’s a palpable buzz in the world of Western art.
     
    Robert Griffing, Family, 2013
    Oil, 46x42 inches
    On sale during Quest


    Scott Tallman Powers, Hidden Melodies, 2013
    Oil, 20x18 inches
    On sale during Quest

    Daniel Smith, The Suitor, 2013
    Acrylic, 24x36 inches
    On sale during Quest
     
    Quest has grown in stature as one of the top shows of its kind in the nation, based upon the reputations of the participating artists, their work  and our delivery of first-class hospitality. Another Quest is the presentation of the Artist of Distinction award. This year’s honoree is John Coleman.  

    Best known for his sculptural portrayal of the American story through depictions of 19th century Native people, Coleman will be honored with a solo exhibit in the museum’s Paul Gallery, through Nov. 17. The Coleman exhibit acknowledges the quality of his work submitted to Quest and celebrates his long-term achievements. Coleman’s show will feature his best known sculptures including a major series of ten figures inspired by the 1830s work of painters George Catlin and Karl Bodmer. They traveled separately up the Missouri River to record members of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and other tribes.  Also included in the show are paintings and drawings for which the artist is increasingly well known. 

    On Saturday afternoon of the opening weekend, guests of the event will be able to enjoy a special panel presentation featuring three artists and their spouses. We expect it to be a rousing discussion about how couples work together during the creation, promotion, and marketing of the art.

    Most of the nearly 50 Quest artists wil be in attendance and five new artists are included: John Moyers, Mike Desatnick, C. Michael Dudash, Logan Maxwell Hagege, and Blair Buswell.  Museum staff and our collaborators in the museum’s support group, the Western Art Society, think you will find this presentation of Quest even better than last year! Visit Quest pages on the museum’s website to see work by all the artists.

     John Coleman, Artist of Distinction (pictured)

    Since receiving the Artist of Distinction Award in 2012, John Coleman has graciously worked with the Eiteljorg as we planned his special exhibition that opens to the public Sept.  8. Coleman devoted himself to art after a career in contracting and construction.  He became a member of the prestigious Cowboy Artists of America in 2001, joined Quest in 2006 and is a frequent winner of major awards for works shown at these and other shows.  He speaks with ease and enthusiasm about art and his subjects. 

    “[I tell] a story that is deeper than what you see on the surface, and that conveys an underlying emotion or mood. . . .I find Native American culture has so many stories that lend themselves to being told visually and in
    ways people understand.”

    Coleman draws inspiration from the art of others and surrounds himself with paintings, sculptures, and examples of Plains Indian clothing, weapons, and accessories.  A large library of art and history books makes the accomplishments of others accessible to him. His bronze sculptures, drawings, and paintings that will go on exhibit at the Eiteljorg are usually featured in private collections across the country.

    “I want to draw you in, to convey a story about life and to share something about the lives of others,” he said.

    Coleman says he holds the idea of art at a high plane.

    Visitors to his exhibition, Honored Life, The Art of John Coleman will be able to enjoy what he has learned from art and history. 

    Go comment!
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