The Native American Student Association (NASA), Students for Violence Protection (SVP), Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA), and Q-Space came together and hosted a two-spirit education event on Nov. 4 at the KTC.
“Two-spirit is a new term for an old age idea,” said Blake Johnson, junior in creative writing and president of NASA “So, two spirits were traditionally known under many different names in each tribe. So, these were people whose bodies held both male and female spirits, and these people would fulfill both male and female roles within the tribe. So, they would take care of children, create jewelry, and build teepees. But then they would also be the hunters, they’d fight in war parties, even some served as chiefs.”
Johnson talked about her experience learning about two-spirit people.
“I saw two-spirit people making a resurface and when I grew up, I thought it was just any queer Native American person used the title, but I learned that it was just these gender nonconforming people and I know that gender has become a very like big topic now like people don’t understand gender nonconformity and there’s a lot of misconceptions about it and that like they aren’t valid for some reason,” Johnson said. “And I thought it was really cool that these people have existed for so long like in a culture that was untouched by any part of the world, it still existed, but we don’t learn about it. And so, I thought that it was really cool to kind of show that this isn’t a new idea, it’s been going on for centuries.”
Johnson reached out to the other organizations to work on the event together.
“I think it’s really great to have this event specifically highlighting two-spirit individuals because that’s someone as a society don’t talk about and it’s something that many people don’t know exist,” said Ali Smith, chair and founder of Q-Space. “They think of gender non-conforming individuals and trans individuals that is new when it’s been around for centuries. We find that in history especially with indigenous groups this is a great way to have that conversation.”
Q-Space is a non-profit organization for people in Southeast Kansas with goals to create a more welcoming environment for LGBTQ and work on activism and educating the community.
The event will be done again in April, which is the month the university celebrates LGBTQ Pride Month.
“I think it’s important because right now, especially we’re in a time where people are very scared about new things, but they want to hold on to traditions, especially in a conservative area,” Johnson said. “You know, that’s the whole idea is that you want to hold onto conservative values. And tradition can be really important for these people. And because they see this as a new thing, it’s scary. But when you look at it as something that’s been going on, you just don’t recognize it, then it isn’t as scary.”
For anyone interested in upcoming events hosted by NASA, SVP, or GSA more information can be found on Gorilla Engage or social media. For those interested in more information about Q-space, information can be found on social media.