Finding Joy and Healing in Indigiqueer Stories

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Many of our trans and gender-diverse Native people grew up with little awareness of the incredible and rich traditions of gender expansiveness in our Tribal Nations prior to European colonization. The struggles that they have endured have not only come from discrimination and a lack of fair and equal representation in the mainstream American society, but also within our own communities. Centuries of colonialist oppression, trauma, and genocide have taken a toll both on the existence and prominence of gender expansive roles in our communities, but also on the feelings about our Indigiqueer relatives. In our 2020 Pride and Connectedness Survey, we found that:

Despite this toll, many Indigenous queer and trans folks have found strength, solace, and unity in the Two Spirit traditions that originate in Nations from all over Turtle Island, especially since the early 1990s. Participants in our survey report incredible levels of Indigenous pride. In fact, we found that:

We know culture and history are a source of strength and purpose for our 2SLGBTQ+ community, but some within the community do not learn about Two Spirit traditions until adulthood. We’re excited this month to share two new projects that are trying to change that.

Sassy Sassafras

Sassy Sassafras is a children’s book based on a story that originates in the southeastern woodlands tribal region among two Tutelo speaking Nations (Monacan and Occaneechi). The book captures a heartfelt encounter between the two authors, and retold through a story about Sam/Samantha, a Two Spirit person, and Miss Mary, a tribal elder. Sam/Samantha finds a home within themself, their community, and their culture through a story Miss Mary shares about Sassafras plant medicine and what she teaches us about gender. This narrative confronts bullying and discrimination with cultural strength and pride.

Join Sam/Samantha and Miss Mary in this heartwarming story of love and acceptance through a return to tradition!

Sassy Sassafras was authored by Victoria Persinger Ferguson (Monacan) and Itai Jeffries (Yesah/Occaneechi), with graphics by Trae Middlebrooks with support from the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board’s Paths (Re)Membered Project, and funding from the Indian Health Service and the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund. A Spanish version was translated by Fernando Sandoval Hernandez. A companion coloring book was created with the permission of our artist. All e-books and coloring pages are available for download free of charge. The book is available in English and Spanish. There is also a companion coloring book to accompany the text.

Purchase Sassy Sassafras:

 https://bit.ly/sassyenglish

https://bit.ly/sassyspanish

https://bit.ly/sassycoloringbook

Free copies of the book can be requested on our website. For any additional questions, email ijeffries@npaihb.org.

Stewarding Relationships Zine

In March of 2021, nine Indigiqueer and Two Spirit young people came together to create a zine focused on what it means to be in relation with ourselves, the lands on which we live, and each other. In a safe and sacred space, these young people collaborated on poetry, graphic storytelling, and art, often exploring and creating work in a new medium. Together, they created the Stewarding Relationships Zine, an interactive zine focused on vibrant and liberated queer Indigenous relationships of all kinds. 

Here’s how contributors felt about the process of creating the Zine:

I hold immense gratitude to be apart of this zine making experience. It was really powerful to create collaborative artwork that will serve our community.

  • Anpa’o Locke

 

Working on this zine is probably my favorite experience for the 2021 year. I’ve been lucky to meet the amazing Indigenous people who’ve worked with me on the zine and will be forever grateful for what we’ve created together.

– Dove Little Home

 

Being a part of this zine was a wonderful experience. It brought a feeling of community and connection during the pandemic. This zine I think shows the beauty of collaboration and how we have all connected to our identities and traditions in this project. I hope whoever reads it will be able to take the messages we placed in there, apply them, and share them with others.

  • Salvador

 

It was really fun getting to come together and connect with a group of folks I wouldn’t have had access to in my own community. And for that, I am so grateful. I know each and everyone of us put a lot of ourselves and lived experiences into the zine. I hope that the readers and consumers realize that and utilize our collective knowledge to better themselves in their relationships and pass that knowledge onto others as well. 

  • Jericho Cummings

Working on the Stewarding Relationships zine was a journey of healing.  Bringing together everyone’s amazing artistic talent and weaving a story together was a wonderful experience, and it is my prayer that the artistic way that we presented the tools that helped us along our journey will be of positive impact in the lives of all our relations. 

  • Giizhigad