Why We Need To Be Standing With Standing Rock

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If you recall, from one of my prior posts, I stated that I sometimes purposefully overlook headlines and news of current events; however, in light of the on-going battles for the Standing Rock Sioux, I have made sure to pay better attention to the headlines pertaining to the American Indian Community as of late. As a citizen of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, I was quite proud of the many Tribal Nations and Tribal Citizens who lent their bodies and their voices to assist the Standing Rock Sioux in their efforts to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline. Perhaps most importantly, I continue to be particularly (and pleasantly) surprised by the number of Two-Spirited individuals who took a stand at Standing Rock.

““Two-spirited” refers to a person who has both a masculine and a feminine spirit, and is used by some First Nations people to describe their sexual, gender and/or spiritual identity. As an umbrella term it may encompass same-sex attraction and a wide variety of gender variance, including people who might be described in Western culture as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, gender queer, cross-dressers or who have multiple gender identities. Two-spirited can also include relationships that would be considered poly. The creation of the term “two-spirited” is attributed to Albert McLeod, who proposed its use during the Third Annual Inter-tribal Native American, First Nations, Gay and Lesbian American Conference, held in Winnipeg in 1990.” [1]

In a post from earlier this year, I wrote about Caro Gonzales, a citizen of the Chemehuevi Tribe who identifies as Two-Spirited and assisted at Standing Rock in multiple capacities. Caro is a wonderful example of the efforts made by the Two-Spirit Community to assist in the actions at Standing Rock. Pictures of Caro serving on the frontline in stand offs against law enforcement were circulated on the internet without much discussion of the determination, courage, and dedication required for a person identifying as American Indian, let alone Two Spirit, to continue to fight in the face of injustice.

One of my first posts for SOULE discussed how frequently LGBTQIA women were erased from social justice movements. With that post in mind, I must admit that seeing a movement that was so embracing of LGBTQIA people was beyond inspiring. The many pictures and stories that accompanied the coverage of and conversations about the actions taking place to honor prior agreements and treaties between the United States government and American Indians appeared to provide an alternative look at social justice movements. Instead of seeing people erased, ignored, or reduced to their sexuality, we saw people celebrated, encouraged, and provided with a platform to discuss the hardships that they had endured and their role in the Movement.

Though the work done at Standing Rock was undermined in multiple ways by the actions of the current President of the United States, the legacy and actions that continue provide a sense of encouragement for women such as myself who saw what it was to be embraced for our passion, our courage, and our conviction regardless of our sexual or gender identity.

May we continue to #DefendTheSacred. May we continue to #StandWithStandingRock.


[1] Researching for LGBTQ Health. http://lgbtqhealth.ca/community/two-spirit.php. March 26, 2017.

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