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    Powwow to Celebrate Native American Two-Spirit Culture

    On Saturday, February 3, the Seventh Annual Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit (BAAITS) Two-Spirit Powwow will be held at Fort Mason in San Francisco from 10 am to 6 pm with featured dancers making their Grand Entry at Noon. This event is free and open to the public. It was the first Two-Spirit powwow in the world open to the public, and is the largest.

    A powwow is a traditional Native American event that gathers all tribes and invites non-Native guests to learn more about Native American cultures. Last year, the event welcomed more than 4,000 people and an even larger crowd is expected this year. Vendors will be on site selling frybread, buffalo burgers, Native art and jewelry, and other wares. This powwow features contest dances; all powwow dancers and drums are welcome.

    “Two-Spirit” is a Native American term for people with both female and male energies. Two-Spirits may (or may not) also identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. Two-Spirits often held—and many still hold— honored positions in their traditional Native American and First Nations communities. “Two-Spirit” is a pan-tribal term—it is rooted in the Anishinaabe term describing such individuals: “niizh manidoowag.” This translates literally as “two spirits.”

    BAAITS Board Member Ruth Villasenor says, “For our people, a powwow is a social gathering that brings people from many of the 500-plus Native American nations together.” She adds, “The reintegration of Two-Spirit people into the broader Native community is part of our mission, so this is an important step.”

    Powwow Coordinator Derek Smith adds, “This powwow provides a lot for a lot of people. For some non-Natives, it is an introduction to our people. For some Native community members, it’s a reminder of the role of Two-Spirits in our community. It’s an amazing opportunity for healing.”

    At this powwow all Two-Spirits and LGBTQ people and their allies from all over the U.S. and Canada get a chance to come together to celebrate Native culture, build community, and express themselves.

    The powwow features several head dancers who will honor the event as leaders:

    Candi Brings Plenty (Pronouns: She/Hers & They/Them) is a Queer Indigenous, Two Spirit, cis Oglala Lakota Sioux and a descendent of Crazy Horse’s Band. She is the founder of the Two Spirit Nation and led the Two Spirit encampment at Standing Rock for eleven months during the peaceful prayer movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline. As a Lakota cultural practitioner and through her spiritual activism, she works to bring her medicine to the Oyaté and advocates especially for the empowerment and visibility of Two Spirit warriors to reclaim their walk of life in the sacred circle.

    John M. Sneezy is of San Carlos Apache and Spanish descent. On his mother’s side, he is from the Istaan’Iye’, which is a water clan and identifies the people that come from the underground waters (Artesian). On his father’s side, he is of the rock clan Dzil tse’skitnn, which is Mountain of Rocks Clan. John has been dancing since he was 8 years old as a grass dancer. Since 1993, John has traveled extensively teaching and performing about the Apache Culture and the powwow community. John is a singer and songwriter of traditional and contemporary Apache and hand drum songs. He is also well known for hoop dancing. He has performed, and shared the bill, with The Sneezy Boyz (his family’s band), Apache Spirit, Ulali, Pura Fe and Yellowbird Dance Group, just to name a few. John has been working as a Certfied Nurse’s Assistant for the past 22 years. John also does presentations on caregiving for families with members who have been diagnosed with cancer. John’s goal is to return back to school to complete his education to become a Registered Nurse.

    The head youth dancer will be Jarron William Richard Goggles-Lahr, an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe of Browning, Montana, and the Northern Arapaho Tribe of Ethete, Wyoming. His Indian name is Little Singer, given to him by his Grandpa Professor Marvin Weatherwax. Jarron was born on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, MT, and lived there until 2016. He is 12 years old and is a 6th grader at Mother Load Adventist Jr. Academy in Sonora, CA.

    Host drums at the powwow will include Southern Pride Family Drum from Oklahoma. This drum group has been with the BAAITS powwow since the very beginning. The group will be traveling to the Bay Area from Jay, Oklahoma. Its members are Two-Spirit singers and drummers and their families.

    For more information: http://www.baaits.org/