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  • 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. 

     

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  • 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!




  • Unlock the mystery of the totem pole

    by Cathy Burton, Eiteljorg Director of Education | Aug 19, 2013

    Marmon Family Totem Pole 

    Author Richard Feldman, M.D. will be in Indy Tuesday, Aug. 19, talking about his new book, Home before the Raven Caws: The Mystery of a Totem Pole

    In 1903, a collection of totem poles were removed from Sitka National Historical Park. The 15 poles were sent to the 1904 World’s Fair, the Louisiana Purchase Centennial Exposition, in Saint Louis. One pole was damaged and moved to another part of the fair. At the end of the fair 13 poles were sent back to Alaska, as promised to the Native Alaskans.  One pole went to the Milwaukee Public Museum. The repaired pole was sold and people lost track of it and thought it was missing. Dr. Feldman discovered that the missing pole was given to David Parry of Indianapolis  and it was placed in the Golden Hill neighborhood in 1905. The pole was the namesake for “Totem Lane” and eventually rotted and fell, in 1939. Dr. Feldman continued the Totem Pole Project research and raised community interest in bringing a new pole to Indianapolis. One of the delightful chapters in the story was to find out that the carver for the new pole, Lee Wallace, was the great-grandson of the original carver.  

    While visiting R.B. Annis Western Family Experience on the Canal level of the Eiteljorg Museum, young people can see a totem pole and build their own using various symbols.

    The Native Haida family who owned the right to tell their ancestral story, the Yeltatsie Family, allowed their story to be carved on the new pole. While not an exact replica, the totem pole, inside at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, carries the same story as the original, the story of Wasgo the sea monster, or what the Haida people would call a sea wolf.

    Dr. Feldman will speak about the tale of the missing pole and how it ended up in Indiana. His talk will be  in the Multipurpose Room at the Indiana Historical Society tomorrow from Noon to 1 p.m. The Historical Society is located at 450 West. Ohio, downtown Indianapolis.

    You’re encouraged to buy or bring in your lunch to enjoy during their Author Series.

    Cathy Burton
    Director of education


    Go comment!




  • TWO SPIRITS film about the short life and murder of Navajo teen to be screened at the Eiteljorg

    by DeShong Perry-Smitherman, Eiteljorg public relations manager | Aug 07, 2013

    Two Spirits
    In June 2001, the body of 16-year-old Navajo teenager Fred Martinez was found on a dirt road in the Southwest Colorado town of Cortez. Martinez had been bludgeoned beyond recognition by a man who had bragged about the crime, according to an anonymous tip.

    Martinez was the victim of a hate crime. He never considered himself gay or transgendered. Instead, he identified himself as nádleehí (nod-lay), which is a Navajo term defined as a male-bodied person who has a feminine essence. That term in English is “Two Spirit.”

    On Saturday, Sep. 28, the documentary "Two Spirits" will be viewed at the Eiteljorg, followed by a panel discussion. The film is about Martinez’s brief life and tragic murder. We talked with director Lydia Nibley and Out West curator Gregory Hinton about the film and why they’ve chosen the Eiteljorg to show it.

    EITELJORG: What does the term “Two-Spirit” mean?
     
     
    LYDIA: On nearly every continent, and for all of recorded history, thriving cultures have recognized, revered, and integrated people who have more than two genders. Terms such as “transgender” and “gay” are strictly new constructs that assume there are only two sexes (male/female), just two sexualities (gay/straight), and only two genders (man/woman).Yet hundreds of distinct societies around the globe have their own long-established traditions for third, fourth, fifth, or even more genders.

    Fred Martinez, the subject of the film "Two Spirits," was not a boy who wanted to be a girl, but both a boy and a girl. Most Western societies have no direct correlation for this Native Two-Spirit tradition, nor for the many other communities without strict either/or conceptions of sex, sexuality, and gender. Worldwide, the sheer variety of gender expression is almost limitless.

    The term “Two-Spirit” was recently created by Native people as a short, useful phrase in English that could begin to represent concepts that are much more nuanced and complex, and that are represented in over 200 Native languages.

    EITELJORG: What will people learn from the film?

    LYDIA: We hope people take away a new appreciation for the richness of gender. Fred was considered to have a special gift according to his ancient Navajo culture. If he had lived, he could have participated in multiple roles in sacred ceremonies, counseled couples, offered insight as a matchmaker, expressed gifts as a medicine person. But the place where two discriminations meet is a dangerous place to live, and Fred became one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history when he was brutally murdered at 16. "Two Spirits" interweaves the tragic story of a mother’s loss of her son with a revealing look at a time when the world wasn’t simply divided into male and female and many Native American cultures held places of honor for people of integrated genders. We hope the story of Fred and other Two-Spirit people in history and in contemporary life inspires people to think and feel differently about what is possible. To embrace all of the human family because as the Navajo/Diné say, “we’re all the five-fingered people.”
     
    EITELJORG: Why show "Two Spirits" at the Eiteljorg?

    GREG: The Eiteljorg is a great place to have complex conversations. With its innovative public programming, your museum is a leader in offering socially relevant programs that expand imagination and promote respectful, intellectual discourse. The film team is thrilled to screen "Two Spirits" in this legendary institution as a way of linking the past and present, and we hope that having sophisticated conversations around gender can help us all shape a more equitable and humane future.

    EITELJORG: What does this film do for LGBT or Two-Spirit teenagers who are at risk for bullying or violence?

    LYDIA: We hope "Two Spirits" moves attitudes from mere tolerance, or acceptance, to a celebration of LGBT and Two-Spirit people. The film demonstrates how people who express multiple genders contribute to their families, friends, and communities not in spite of, but because of who they are. That’s a big change. It’s about same sex unions having been honored for thousands of years. It’s about a natural spectrum of gender. It’s about respecting who people really are and what they have to contribute. Like when a young person comes out to their traditional Native grandmother and her response is, “Oh, my friends will be so jealous!” That’s what we hope people experience: that shift.

    EITELJORG: How does "Two Spirits" open hearts and minds?

    LYDIA: It’s one thing to learn that many tribes have multiple genders and much more connective to see the story of one particular life and to feel empathy and understanding for someone like Fred while seeing him through the eyes of his mother. Any time we can get out of our own heads and into someone else’s experience, our own understanding expands. Perhaps that’s why "Two Spirits" was the highest-rated film of the 2010-2011 season, and received the Audience Award from PBS-Independent Lens. The film introduces viewers to the amazing ways traditional Navajo people express gender, takes them into the world of contemporary world of Two-Spirit people, and shows how this richer view of gender has always been with us and can be reclaimed.

    EITELJORG: What is the lasting message this film leaves for its viewers?

    GREG:
    Between tradition and controversy, sex and spirit, and freedom and fear, lives the truth—the bravest choice you can make is to be yourself.

    EITELJORG: Is there an opportunity for people to get involved in getting the message out?
     
     
    LYDIA: We’re working to place the film in more colleges, universities, high schools, and libraries and are seeking funding from individual philanthropists and foundations to make that possible. Any help is welcome! Imagine a world that isn’t simply divided into male and female, where it’s safe for people to be who they are. Please join us to make the film more widely available by making a contribution and by sharing it in person, online, and in every way you can. 

    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.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
    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

    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.
    , 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., chair/professor, School of Diné Studies, Education & Leadership, Navajo Technical College (Crownpoint, NM)
     
    Photo credits:
    - "Two Spirits" poster from film festivals
    - Navajo same sex couple, photographer Bosque Redondo 1866, Museum of New Mexico
    - Two-Spirit dancers prepare
    - Lydia Nibley's headshot
    - Photographs were given to us by Lydia Nibley

    Go comment!




  • Eiteljorg Insider | 5 Questions with James Nottage

    by Jaq Nigg, Eiteljorg festivals and markets manager | Aug 05, 2013
    As vice president and chief curatorial officer, James has oversight of the Curatorial, Collections and Exhibitions departments. This means planning and administration for the development of all the collections and their care and overall planning for exhibitions and related publications. He also serves as the Gund Curator of Western Art, History and Culture, developing exhibits, publications and the collections related to traditional art of the American West. 

    James Nottage
    James next to Bartering for a Bride by Alfred Jacob Miller

    Favorite piece of art at the Eiteljorg
    : Are you really going to make me pick just one?  Certainly, one of my favorites is Ernest Blumenshein’s The Plaster. It is beautifully painted. Then again, our beaded James Bay Cree hood is rare and quite special.  Or, how about Alfred Jacob Miller’s 1847 oil painting, Bartering for a Bride? Or, maybe . . .

     
    1. What inspires you?
    Great art and literature are at the top of the list. People who are devoted to important causes are as well. Beauty in nature is there too. I could go on and on.

    2. If you could have any piece of art in the world in your home, what would it be? Being a typical curator, I can’t imagine having just one! Let’s see. Maybe I would like . . . No, how about . . . Oh, wait a minute, wouldn’t . . . Oh, boy. This is a tough question. Oh, I know:  Claude Monet’s Waterlillies, 1926. Now, ask me again and it will be something else.

    3. If you weren’t a museum curator, what would you do?
    I was first intrigued by museums in the 4th grade and decided to be a museum curator when I was in high school. I have not been able to get out of the game since. I enjoy doing free-lance writing and would be challenged by teaching. 

     4. Do you collect anything? 
    I
     really am not a collector in an organized way. You might say that I accumulate books on Western art and the history of the West and I accumulate a lot of music, mostly blues, jazz, swing and American roots music. 

     5. If you could invite any artist to dinner, who would it be and why?
    In the work I do as a curator, I often have this opportunity to interact with many of my favorite artists. The individuals it would be nice to connect with are the painters and sculptors who are no longer living. I’d love to spend time with George Catlin, talking about his 1830s trips to the West. A. P. Proctor would be interesting to be with, talking about his sculptures and techniques. Oh, and Thomas Moran in his later years would be good company, discussing how the art world changed during his career and what kept him inspired.

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