Those who arrived in the Native American Garden of Eden had never seen a land so uncorrupted. The Europeans saw new geography, new plants, new animals, but the most perplexing curiosity to these people were the Original Peoples and our ways of life. Of all of the foreign life ways Indians held, one of the first the Europeans targeted for elimination was the Two Spirit tradition among Native American cultures. At the point of contact, all Native American societies acknowledged three to five gender roles: Female, male, Two Spirit female, Two Spirit male and transgendered.
Traditionally, Native American two spirit people were male, female, and sometimes intersexed individuals who combined activities of both men and women with traits unique to their status as two spirit people.
All across Turtle Island, there are documented accounts of multiple gender roles beyond just man and woman, often acknowledging more than two genders. In all accounts, Two Spirit people were respected by their communities, valued for their gifts, and accepted for who they were. Within many of our communities, Two Spirit people were regarded as third or fourth genders, with some some Nations recognizing up to six genders, and in almost all cultures were regarded and revered for the roles and responsibilities given to them. Third and fourth gender are terms that were historically used to describe Two Spirit people, acknowledging within our traditions that there are more than only the two genders of man and woman.
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