Honor Project

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ed hagen

Waving burning sage around and reciting chants from other cultures does not a spiritualist make. The poseur Bo Young (b. Bob Ehrenberg) is obsessed with appearing important. Instead of sucking up to accomplished people, however, he should focus on self-control and be still. If so, in time, he might be able to represent something authentic and spiritually relevant.

Kent Lebsock

I really want to thank Ekosi for the thoughtful and accurate response to the article about the "rift" between Indigneous two-spirit peoples and what I will simply call others. Within some of our cultures, there are even things that other people in the community are not suppose to know if they are not part of a specific society, kiva, etc. We as Native people know that this cultural diversification, even within our own nations, are a part of the differences on which balance depends. It is the natural orderof things and it is respected. The definition of colonialism that is given really should answer the whole question. As Ekosi says, many white Americans believe that simply because they want something they are entitled to it and therefore those opposing it are "prejudice." Unfortunately, this is also a part of "liberal" American history and the whole idea of a melting pot. We are not all suppose to be the same. We are all different. This is not a bad thing. Again, the universe is meant to be diverse, and respect for that diversity is balance. The ease with which the dominant culture destory ecological diversity is evidence that this idea is not respected. But, one would hope, that people want to be our relatives or allise and they are different, have a different history, different languages, different cultural experiences, they could embrace that diversity without having to consume it. Why do white people (and I'm sorry, but it is mostly white people)insist upon being a part of it, of making it there own? Like Ekosi states, if Mr. Young was being truly taught about Indigenous traditions, one lesson should have been to respect the boundaries established by our cultures.

Pila maya yelo
Mitakuye Oyasin

Tetuwan Okshila
Kent Lebsock

nehi katawasisiw


Perhaps the source of the rift of which you write comes from the fact that white people are, through treating Two Spirit traditions as up for grabs, trying to claim a culturally specific tradition and history surrounding spirituality & sexuality (i.e.: two spirit) as their own (that is, to colonize it) when it is not.

Two Spirit is not simply an indicator of "sexual orientation"; it is not an umbrella term---it has as much specificity and particularity as Cree, Saulteaux, Asini-pwat, Dine, Innu, Salish, Spokane, Tohono O'odham, et al all do. All of which contain their own discrete identities, separate from European identities.

The tension that you and the Elder you claim is "teaching" you choose to dismiss as irrelevant and born of the "fear" of Two Spirit people is actually born of something else entirely: respect for our Grandparents, for ourselves, for our traditions.

In our many diverse Indigenous communities there are many, many different traditions and yet among these societies there are threads of commonality that run through them all like iron ore through the deep stone of the earth. One of these threads is the practice of respect through stepping back.

This practice is something that the European-American community has yet to learn and would benefit from learning before all else.

If you truly understood and respected the Indigenous traditions and beliefs of the people you claim to be a "student" of then you would understand that this "rift" you write about (yet understand nothing of; perhaps you need to study harder) has about as much to do with your "prima facie racism" as it does with fear.

Do you know what colonization is? Let me tell you....colonization is when a person (or entity/polity) decides that the thing it wants, by virture of that desire, belongs to him/her, it.

Your assumption that you can own and have a piece of my Two Spirit history just because you want to is no different from the colonial assumptions that drive manifest destiny.

Actions speak louder than words; the Two Spirit people have spoken and still you are deaf with a whiteman's deafness and insist on intruding where you are not wanted.

An Indigenous person, understanding the principle of stepping back, would accept this and would respect it by not insisting that they have a claim to a specific cultural and spiritual tradition just because they want it.

But then, you are not Indigenous and that makes all the difference in the world. It has nothing to do with race (a ridiculous European phallacy, this idea of "race"), but everything to do with ontological belief systems and soci-cultural cosmologies.


nehi katawasisiw
pipikisis cree nation

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