Saturday, September 01, 2018

I Seem To Have Been Wrong

About four years ago I wrote about the PC competition in the conversation about Two-Spirit people among Native Americans. I still agree with much of it, but I was too dismissive of the idea.  There actually are sources that describe men who wished to live as women among some of the New World tribes, and in some cases, they were people of high status who were believed to have understanding of the spirit world. In other cases, they were tolerated by held in lower esteem.  I only read about half of it, enough to see that I had been wrong.  The topic doesn't interest me that greatly.  Some of you might find it more worth your while in contemplating the nature of humankind.

Some things to note: the practice seems to have been limited to men taking on the roles of women.  Women who might want to take on men's roles were likely not encouraged in this; while sexual relations with men were often a part of this status, a more general taking on the role of a woman is the point - it is not men living as couples, but something more transgender; some contemporary sources claim the custom was limited to certain tribes they had seen. I did not see any northeastern tribes in the mix, and those are the ones I am more familiar with. The article is a translation from the French, and stresses contact with the tribes around the Great Lakes and Mississippi River.  I don't know if that is significant.


Andrea Daley Utronebel said...

Me, Big Bull, now change my name to Happy Beaver.

Sam L. said...

Andrea, the SJWs gonna getcha for that! (If there are any here...)

Christopher B said...

Read part of it. I think your skepticism is still justified.

20th century academic interpeting and analysing an 18th century European description of Native culture given to him largely by a Native associate who seems to delight in tweaking him by encouraging advances from another Native of ambiguous sexuality. No chance for putting a thumb on the scale there by anybody, obviously.

I think james brought up a good point about definitions in your original post. I find they tend to be extremely slippery when it comes to transgender. In the example, it appears homosexuality is infered at least in part because the person is skilled at "women's work", though if the subject were how Native tribes were egalitarian an insinuation that homosexuals were resticted to low-status female tasks would be met with howls of indignation.

I'm not discounting that it's possible, just that it fits so neatly into the sexually-rigid white/uncomplicated-natural native narrative (see also Margaret Mead in Samoa).

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Decent point.