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    World’s Largest Public Two-Spirit Powwow Set for February 8 at Fort Mason

    On Saturday, February 8, the 9th Annual Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) Two-Spirits Powwow will be held at Fort Mason-Festival Pavilion 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. BAAITS is the first established and largest public Two-Spirit powwow in the world.

    A powwow is a traditional Native American event that gathers all tribes as well as inviting non-Native guests to learn more about Native cultures. Last year the event welcomed more than 5,000 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 crafts. This powwow features several hours of ceremonial honor dances, contest dances, and a drum contest; 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. Traditionally Two-Spirit people often held—and many still hold— honored positions in their 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,” embodying both the feminine and the masculine in all of us. Two-Spirit is an addition, not a replacement term, for Indigenous communities that already have a term to signify gender and sexual orientation variance.

    BAAITS Board Chair Amelia Vigil welcomes attendees to the powwow saying, “This is a space for all of us to gather respectfully and celebrate Native traditions. Whether you are African-American, Native American, White, gay, straight, transgender, whoever you are and wherever your roots originated, come with curiosity and kindness and you will enjoy the company of 5,000 likeminded good and connected people as we celebrate traditions of music and art and togetherness.”

    Powwow Chair and Board Member, Roger Kuhn (Poarch Creek), adds, “The powwow represents a place where Two-Spirit people and their allies come together to celebrate community, friendship, and love. The BAAITS powwow is unique in that we do not gender the dance categories—all dancers are welcome in any of the dances. It is the mission of BAAITS to help Two-Spirit people return to the circle of healing. Our powwow is one way in which we work to accomplish this goal. The powwow is an incredibly exhilarating experience.”

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

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

    Opening Prayer
    Carla Munoz (Costanoan Rumsen, Carmel)
    Dessiree Munoz (Costanoan Rumsen, Carmel)

    Head Dancers
    Beverly Little Thunder (Standing Rock Lakota)
    Erik Ramone (Aaniih/Diné)

    Head Gourd Dancer
    Marc Goggles-Keka (Wichita & Affiliated Tribes)

    Arena Director
    Eric Kimple (Blackfeet)

    Drums
    Northern Drum: Blue Medicine Well
    Southern Drum: Southern Pride

    Co-MCs
    L. Frank Manriquez (Tongva-Acjachemen)
    Coy McLemore (Kiowa)

    When: February 8, 10 am–6 pm

    Where: Fort Mason, 2 Marina Blvd, San Francisco

    Cost: Free, donations welcome at the door or at www.baaits.org/donate

    Parking: Pay lot on site; limited free street parking off site. Elders parking: Limited availability, first come, first parked.

    Who should attend:
    Everyone is welcome. This will be a family-friendly, clean and sober event. Street attire is encouraged for non-Natives. No costumes allowed. This event will be wheelchair-accessible.

    Published on January 30, 2020


    Honoring the Lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Trans and Two-Spirits

    The Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) reports that there were 5712 cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in 2016 alone and, of those, only 116 were logged into the Department of Justice database. UIHI further reports that murder is the third leading cause of death among American Indian/Alaskan/Native women.

    “Native American women are victims of violence far greater than any population in the country simply because of who we are as Native women, and what we represent, our tribal nations,” Lisa Brunner, Co-Director of the Indigenous Women’s Human Rights Collective told The Center for Public Integrity.

    HRC shares that “fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and unchecked access to guns conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare, and other necessities, barriers that make them vulnerable.”

    Given such problems concerning violence and discrimination, the Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) Two-Spirits Powwow this year will be in service to the missing and murdered Indigenous women and Two-Spirits. As Powwow Committee Member Roger Kuhn told the San Francisco Bay Times, “BAAITS is committed to bringing attention to this international crisis.”

    For more information, see the public database “It Starts With Us” ( http://itstartswithus-mmiw.com/ ) and GLAAD’s resources concerning the Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual observance on November 20
    (https://www.glaad.org/tdor ).

     


    Roger Kuhn of BAAITS Feels the Two-Spirit Community Love

    Every time the Grand Entry takes place at the annual Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) Two-Spirits Powwow, Roger Kuhn is moved by the powerful experience. “There is a place where I belong,” explains the Two-Spirit Kuhn, who also identifies as being gay.

    Kuhn recently shared more with us about his personal connection to the powwow and to Native life.

    San Francisco Bay Times: Please tell us about yourself and how you became involved with BAAITS.

    Roger Kuhn: I have been a member of the BAAITS community since moving to the Bay Area 8 years ago. Having been involved with other Two-Spirit organizations before joining BAAITS, I know that upon moving to a new city, community would be important for me. Being a part of Two-Spirit community is where I feel most comfortable. I joined the BAAITS board shortly after arrival and spent 3 1/2 years as the Board Chair. My current role is Board Member and Powwow Committee Member.

    San Francisco Bay Times: What are you most looking forward to at the 2020 powwow?

    Roger Kuhn: What I am most looking forward to at the 2020 powwow is seeing the many friends I have made over the years and feeling the love that comes from being a part of Two-Spirit community.  

    San Francisco Bay Times: It’s our understanding that your heritage is Poarch Creek. What lessons can all of us today learn from such Native American culture?

    Roger Kuhn: I am an enrolled member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. We are the only federally recognized tribe in the state of Alabama. Many of my family members, including my mother, make their home on the Poarch reservation. One of the greatest lessons that I have learned from my community is the power of resiliency. Even though our people and our culture have been oppressed and marginalized, we continue to rise above the adversity and grow stronger with each other.  

    San Francisco Bay Times: Outside of the BAAITS Powwow, what other events do you recommend that those of us who are interested in Native American culture attend here in Northern California?

    Roger Kuhn: Northern California has some great Native American offerings. My first suggestion is to know the people and the culture upon whose land we now reside. Learn about the Ohlone people, attend the Ohlone Big Time Gathering, eat at the Café Ohlone ( https://www.makamham.com/cafeohlone ). There are several powwows that happen throughout the Bay Area, including the Stanford Powwow, Indigenous Peoples Day Powwow in Berkeley, and the Richmond Powwow. 

    The BAAAITS Two-Spirit powwow is organized by an all-volunteer committee of mostly Native and Two-Spirit identified people and their allies. The powwow is also a community funded event. If you wish to make a donation, please visit http://www.baaits.org/donate 

     


    Trace Your Family’s Native American Heritage

    Historically, tribal nations have used a variety of ways to determine an individual’s heritage. One of the more modern tools is genetic testing and analysis from popular services like 23andMe and Ancestry. The results from such services, however, often lead to individuals having even more questions about their family heritage, including those who have likely or possible Native American ancestry.

    While Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) does not have the capacity to help people trace their family histories, the organization does suggest that you check out the following websites:

    The Bureau of Indian Affairs: http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc002656.pdf
    Department of the Interior guide: http://www.doi.gov/tribes/trace-ancestry.cfm
    National Indian Law Library: http://www.narf.org/nill/resources/roots.htm
    Powwows guide: http://www.powwows.com/2012/07/27/am-i-native-american-how-to-find-my-indian-ancestors/

    BAAITS also recommends paying a visit to your local library, since libraries often not only house helpful resources, but they may also offer genealogy research classes or provide other related assistance.

    The San Francisco Public Library’s genealogy resources are listed at: https://bit.ly/37pQ4Yh

    And a little-known treasure is the Sutro Library, located on the campus of San Francisco State University. (It’s in room 610 of the J. Paul Leonard Library, 1630 Holloway). The Sutro Library houses the largest genealogy collection west of Salt Lake City! Items can be borrowed from there via interlibrary loan. https://www.library.ca.gov/sutro/

    Published on January 30, 2020