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K-State professor's book is first to explore Two-Spirit literature in Northwest native groups
Date:8/24/2010

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Western culture's grappling with homosexuality and alternate genders isn't strictly limited to the United States, but is also prevalent in many Native American and native Alaskan groups -- or native nations. That issue is the focus of work by one Kansas State University researcher.

Lisa Tatonetti, associate professor of English and American ethnic studies, received a fellowship to "Native Cultures of Western Alaska and the Pacific Northwest Coast," a National Endowment for the Humanities' summer institute. She used the opportunity to meet with various native groups to learn about their policies and cultures, including those on alternative sexualities and genders.

Her findings will contribute to her upcoming book, "Queering American Indian Literature: The Rise of Contemporary Two-Spirit Texts and Criticism." It will be the first literary exploration into recorded Two-Spirit literature, mapping its inception in the early 1970s to its rise in present day and its criticism.

"Two-Spirit is a term coined in the '90s that refers to people of native cultures who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender/transsexual or queer," said Tatonetti, who is a foremost scholar in this field. "There's been this explosion of Two-Spirit literature since the '70s."

A native nation refers to a collective body of Native American people who are citizens in an indigenous nation existing within the U.S. or Canada, Tatonetti said. In Alaska alone, more than 300 native cultures exist.

"Traditionally in native cultures, many native nations have alternate genders and different sexuality spaces," she said.

But when Spanish and French missionaries and settlers first encountered these beliefs and practices in native cultures, they deemed them barbaric, often resulting in the practitioners' deaths because they did not adhere to beliefs of Judeo-Christian origin. Consequently, this forced the Two-Spirit movement underg
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Contact: Lisa Tatonetti
tatonett@k-state.edu
785-532-2174
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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