University of Connecticut

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Lecture: Two Spirit: Past, Present, Future & Reclaiming

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
12:00pm – 1:30pm

Storrs Campus
Rainbow Center; Student Union 403

The Out to Lunch Gender, Sexuality, and Community is a weekly academic lecture and discussion series with guest scholars and community activists from various disciplines examining a variety of topics related to gender identity, gender expression, and sexuality. Each semester offers a broad sampling of the areas.

Today's lecture is entitled, "Two Spirit – Past, Present, Future and Reclaiming Traditional Roles in Native America" and will be presented by Sheldon Raymore.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Native American Cultural Society/Programs Office the University of Connecticut, Student Union room 416B.

from Native Peoples Magazine: The phrase “two spirit” began to gain traction across Native America after 1990, when 13 men, women and transgender people from various tribes met in Winnipeg, Canada, with the task of finding a term that could unite the LGBTQ Native community. Numerous terms in tribal languages identified third genders in their cultures that encompassed both masculine and feminine, and the struggle for those gathered in Winnipeg was finding a contemporary term that would be embraced across all tribal cultures. The attendees at the gathering settled on “two spirit.” They wanted a term that “reflected the combination of masculinity and femininity which was attributed to males in a feminine role and females in a masculine role,” says author Sabine Lang in the book Men as Women, Women as Men: Changing Gender in Native American Cultures. Many two spirit, historically, were keepers of traditions, tellers of the stories of creation, and healers.

Sheldon Raymore will speak about the concept of Two Spirit people and their places in today’s contemporary Indigenous societies. The presentation will begin with prayer and cleansing.

Sheldon Raymore is from the Cheyenne River Sioux Nation and currently resides in New York City. He is the Outreach Coordinator at the American Indian Community House which was established in 1969. He is a Native American Storyteller, Activist, Visual Artist, Actor, Choreographer, and an award winning Grass Dancer. In 2015 he starred in ABC’s Born to Explore with Richard Weiss “Legend of Dance” where he was the featured grass dancer at the National Museum of the American Indian in NYC. He’s also danced for the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers at the Theatre for the New City. Sheldon Raymore is a member of the East Coast Two Spirit Society (EC2SS) leadership council and serves as chair. The East Coast Two Spirit Society (EC2SS) is devoted to Two Spirit Native American and First Nations communities and the reduction of bias and discrimination due to lack of information. The EC2SS provides information to the general public and support and services to Two Spirit Natives, formerly known as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or gender non-conforming. EC2SS works to increase the positive visibility of Two Spirit communities and to provide safe, supportive opportunities for social, tradition


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