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Berdache: Two Spirit People

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Vanessa Flores

on 8 August 2013

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Transcript of Berdache: Two Spirit People

BERDACHE ( Two Spirit People)
It is a Persian (current day Iran) word meaning male slave who were kept for only sexual purposes

It an offensive term so many use "Two Spirit People"

Many native tribes have different terms for this word.
Two Spirit People
Are seen as more than a Shaman: A conduit
- Conduit: a person who is capable of connecting with both the physical and spiritual world

They are capable of seeing further both from a female and male perspective.

Two Spirit People were not seen as less of a person they were seen as more. They were special in the Native American culture.

Today there are many organizations to help Natives Americans who are there to give support to those who struggle.
Pronounced "ber-dash"

A term used to describe an an American Indian who assumes the dress, social status, and role of the opposite sex.

Two Spirit People became a well known term after the third annual Native American gay and lesbian conference in 1990

Being two spirited has nothing to do with being sexual and it had little to do with biology.

It was more about how to function in the community
Native Americans did not see gender as only female or male.

They have four different genders
-feminine man
- masculine woman
This video is very informative and helps understand what Two Spirit people meant.
Berdache in the Community
married berdache with a male
Roles in the community were very important in tribes
They were valued in society.

The female figures in society would be the first to notice whether their child was different at an early age (5-7 years old)

The berdache culture was different in many tribes. Each had different rules for berdaches.

They can fit the role of a wife or were involved with the spiritual part of a tribe's ceremony.
The males think about the more feminine roles such as
-house hold

Feminine Man
Masculine Woman
And the women do the more masculine roles
-hunting and warfare

Once the Europeans started colonizing the native land they tried to convert the Native Indians to Christianity and blamed the absurd behavior to the Devil's work.

Because Europeans were not used to such behavior many berdaches were victimized as sodomites

Europeans tried to remove any berdache behavior. They succeeded for a few years but as time has gone on many Native Americans have tried to rekindle those traditions.
**I will use the word berdache, but keep in mind I am not using it in a derogatory way.
Western culture have made a binary thinking of gender.

Gender is viewed as only male and female. They're views as a typical male or female. The way a gender is suppose to act. Anything that is different from the "norm" face a lot of hateful crimes. Some are so violent it leads to murder.

Although this tradition slowly faded it is now coming back.
There are support systems that help native people to be themselves and who want to bring tradition back instead of falling into the western culture and seeing gender as a binary.
press play to watch (22mins long)
**this video was not created by me
Fred C. Martinez; Navajo. Murdered
Full transcript