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I met David in 2004 when we were both doing work in HIV prevention. David, as well as other friends, would talk about being Two Spirit and taught me what it meant, how the term originated, why it's important, and how their work educating about the Two Spirit experience is saving the lives of young Natives all over North America.

To learn more about David's Two Spirit Society you can go to this website: https://www.mttwospirit.org/

There are also these books on the subject: https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/two-spirit

And this documentary: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1296906/videoplayer/vi1540620825?ref_=tt_ov_vi
L: I'm Dr. Lindsey Doe, clinical sexologist, and this is David Herrera, director of the Montana Two Spirit Society.  So, David, I am wondering if you could tell our audience what Two Spirit Means.

D: Probably one of the most asked questions that we get.

Both: "What's Two Spirit?"

D: For me, it's a cultural term more than anything else as it relates to Native and Indigenous tribes and people.

L: The term Two Spirit came out in 1990?

D: I believe it was about 1988 or '89.

L: Okay.

D: Back then, you know, during the 80s and stuff, HIV was already hitting so it was already mobilizing a lot of LGB communities around that.  So there was talk about wanting to bring together and start like this Native national organization.  For the most part, a lot of the Native folks did not identify with the Gay, LGB, you know, T, community at all.  They were more identified with their tribe.  It's like I'm not a gay, you know, man, I am Cherokee or I am Blackfeet.  It was a very foreign concept to create an identity based on your sexual expression, because every tribe had their own word for what it meant to be kinda like Two Spirit or gay and lesbian and stuff.  So we knew, like, we can't use, you know, Nádleeh, the national Nádleeh, because that was really only, referred to Navajo, or Wíŋtke which would be more the Sioux and Lakota.  And so I tried to come up with a word that was a kind of umbrella that everybody would know that this is what we're talking about.  So one of the first gatherings was in Minneapolis in the late 80s and it was at that gathering that the folks came up with the term Two Spirit.  Would that work?  Was that something we could all agree on, that we could identify with and use?  That when we put that out there that we were talking about Native, Indigenous individuals who identify or maybe are gay, lesbian, or what we would know as gay, lesbian, or trans.

And at this year's gathering we had a panel of two spirit folks from Hawai'i, from Phillipines, from Mexico, and from Canada, and to hear the colonization of what happened and how those cultures and how the Two Spirit folks in those cultures were revered-same thing in Hawai'i, the exact same thing in Hawai'i, the Mahu, which would be the term that they use there, they were the ceremonial leaders, they were the name givers the same way that the Two Spirit folks in other tribes had the same responsibilities.

So to get back to the question, that a lot more than you need to know, but I guess that the Two Spirit term basically an embodiment of both the masculine and the feminine, and recognizing that in some tribes they recognize more than just two different types of- I mean, they might say that there are three or four or five different types of identities that could be female-female, male-female, male-male, whatever.  But for the most part Two Spirit is just encapsulating both the masculine and feminine.  But, like I said, there are a lot of Native or Indigenous folks that don't identify as Two Spirit, they'd rather identify as Gay or Lesbian because they see the Two Spirit as maybe not reflective of their life experience persay.  Or they might see that Two Spirit carries a type of responsibility, so you're actually working, you're helping your tribe and doing that stuff, doing kind of ceremony, then they would maybe identify as Two Spirit, but if they're not willing to do that, then they don't wanna take that term on for themselves.

(3:50)