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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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  • 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!




  • Tweens and teens to rock out at the Eiteljorg this Saturday afternoon

    by Girls Rock! Indianapolis guest blogger | Aug 02, 2013


    Girls Rock! Indianapolis recently completed its fourth camp season. The week-long camp culminated in a showcase of over 70 girls between the ages of 8 and 16 singing and rocking out on guitar, drum and bass in front of a packed crowd of almost 400 fans. Many of the girls had never picked up an instrument before attending Girls Rock! camp, but their pride in showing off their new found abilities made that theater electric.

    While it may be tough for some people to list more than a handful of influential female musicians, women have left an indelible mark on the heart of rock 'n' roll. Early female rockers Wanda Jackson, Maybelle Carter, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe heavily influenced more iconic male musicians including Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley.

    Providing campers with an understanding of women's place in music history is one of the focuses of Girls Rock! camp  That's one of the many reasons that we are so excited to partner with the Eitlejorg for Girls Rock! Day at the museum  on Saturday, Aug. 3. 







    We've seen first-hand how getting girls excited about music and self-expression builds their confidence and influences their interactions with others. In a world that's filled with media messages that tell girls how they should look, what they should wear, and how they should think, the empowerment that music gives them is more important now than ever.  

    The Eitlejorg's "Guitars! Roundups to Rockers" includes a number of exhibit pieces that are of interest to female rockers including guitars owned by Patsy Montana, who was the first country music female to have a milion-selling hit single, and riot grrrl band Sleater Kinney

    Girls Rock! Day at the Eiteljorg runs from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 3. There will be a musical "petting zoo," complete with guitar, bass and a drum kit for hands on experimentation guided by Girls Rock! volunteers. Stop by, try out the instruments, and form your own flash band. During the afternoon, Girls Rock! volunteers and campers will perform and be available to talk about camp, its history, and upcoming events. Visitors can also make their own rock 'n' roll inspired buttons as a take-away to remember the day.

    Girls Rock! Indianapolis is a non-profit organization, founded in 2009, dedicated to building positive self-esteem in girls and encouraging creative expression through music. Our music education programs provide girls with an oPpportunity to participate in an environment that fosters leadership, encourages social change, and cultivates a supportive community of female peers and mentors. The Girls Rock! program began in Portland, Oregon and similar programs now run in Austin, Seattle, Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, Paris, Iceland, Brazil, and other cities many other cities in countries around the globe.  

    For more information, visit girlsrockindy.org.

    Photos courtesy: Paul D'Andrea, Sarah Boutwell and s.Jane Mils.
    Go comment!




  • Eiteljorg employee makes a difference just by playing the banjo

    by Jordan Stout, Eiteljorg visitor experience assistant | Jun 10, 2013


    This banjo - usually housed in a storage drawer - helped a 9-year-old boy with disabilities celebrate one of his best birthdays ever.

    A little boy came to the Eiteljorg Saturday afternoon. Turned out I knew his favorite songs on the banjo, "Baby Beluga" and "Old Dan Tucker." When I played for him he danced until he burst into tears from laughter. Then when I asked him if he wanted to play he didn't take the pause needed to say yes before picking it up and starting to figure out how. At this latest - his mother froze, looking shocked. I hadn't noticed until then that the boy had limited use of his arms and wrists. His mother never imagined he could do something like play an instrument, but there he was playing away and laughing. So I quickly ran to grab others and an hour later I still couldn't have pried my ukulele away from him if I dared.

    Turned out, Saturday was his birthday. He had just turned nine. He said it was one of his best. He was unhappy to leave the museum but his mother said he and their family had a wonderful experience.

    Happy birthday little dude! Come back to the museum anytime and we'll jam to any song you want.
    The Eiteljorg later received a wonderful email from the boy's mother - grateful about her son's experience and his time with Jordan:

    "...Our family met one of your employees named Jordan Stout. Mr Stout not only wowed us with his musical talents on the banjo and uke but he was patient, informative and kind with my kids, one of which has a disability called Williams Syndrome. My husband and I both agree, meeting Mr Stout and being entertained and educated by him, was definitely the highlight for our family's trip to your museum..."

    Jordan Stout (pictured above) is a visitor experience assistant at the Eiteljorg. He has a deep love for playing music, especially ukulele and banjo. He enjoys the opportunity to play whenever possible for families who visit the Museum's RB Annis Experience located on the Canal level.

    Each Saturday from noon to 2 p.m., children and adults can take free guitar lessons at the Eiteljorg. If you don't own an instrument, no problem. We have 19 guitars and ukekeles from which to choose in our Guitars! corral. And don't forget to check out Guitars! Roundups to Rockers, where more than 100 instruments are on exhibit, including this 2013 Cutaway Tenor Ukulele (loan courtesy of Mya-Moe Ukeleles).

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  • The mating advantage of male musicians - Why all guys should play guitar

    by Zach Brown, Eiteljorg marketing/PR intern | Jun 05, 2013

    As a 20-something single guy, I’ve heard the old adage of “chicks dig a man who can sing” plenty of times. But does playing an instrument or musical ability really make a man more attractive to an interested woman? According to a study in France, it actually does, and later on I’ll tell you where to get free guitar lessons and be on your way to winning that lucky lady’s heart.

    In this particular experiment, a 20-year-old man was instructed to approach 300 women on the shopping streets of a medium-sized French city (population roughly 70,000) and ask for their phone number. The man was carrying a guitar case, a sports bag or nothing at all. The study showed that 31 percent of women gave the man their phone number when he was carrying the guitar case, while only 9 percent gave their number when he held the sports bag. When the man was empty-handed, 14 percent complied with his request.

    The conductors of this research hypothesized that the guitar case condition would yield a more favorable response from the women whom the man approached. Their hypothesis was not only supported by the results, but by me as well.

    There are plenty of ways that guys use to capture the heart and attention of lady, whether he’s good with music, sports, animals or kids (kudos to the guy who brought his son on the season premiere of ABC’s The Bachelorette). However, musical ability is special because it exudes a unique combination of confidence, compassion and intellect. In addition, the musician or “rock star” image is appealing because some woman my associate it with wealth and status (PSmag.com).

    I know what you might be thinking now: “What about sports guys? They get wealth and status, too!” Indeed they do, but the ability to play guitar lasts longer than the ability to throw a football or dunk a basketball. Athletes may also have the task of dispelling the wildly inaccurate “dumb jock” stereotype, a generalization to which I refuse to subscribe.

    The bottom line is that a music guy may be more likely to make a deep, emotional connection than someone who can’t play a note to save his life (i.e. - Me). According to Tom Jacobs of Pacific Standard, ladies see a musician as someone who is potentially willing to practice and work at something. To me, this could mean willingness to put in the effort for a relationship.
    So gentlemen, if you have musical ability, use it. You can thank me later. And to those of you who don’t, never fret (10 Cool Points if you got the guitar pun), there’s still time to learn! You can get guitar lessons from 12-2 p.m., every Saturday during the run of Guitars! Roundups to Rockers, at the Eiteljorg by Benito DiBartoli (pictured here) of the band Black Voodoo. He's an expert player who works with anyone interested in learning. Lessons are free with the price of admission. And the Museum has plenty of extra guitars if you don't have your own! Don’t forget to check out our Guitars: Roundups to Rockers exhibit as well.


    Zach Brown is an Eiteljorg marketing/PR intern and a senior at Ball State University. He is single.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    References:
    "Men's Music Ability and Attractiveness to Women in a Real-life Courtship
    Context." Psychology of Music (2013): 1-5. 1 May 2013. 28 May 2013

    Jacobs, Tom. "The Mating Advantage of Male Musicians." Pacific Standard. Psmag.com, 6 May 2013. 28 May 2013.

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