Although the summer institute wasn't focused on Two-Spirit work, Tatonetti said it allowed her insight into the Yup'ik, Tlingit, Tsimshian, Haida and Kwakwaka'wakw nations, whose cultures differ greatly from those of native nations in the lower 48 states.
For her research she met with internationally known scholars and native artists every day for month.
"When I learned about a particular culture, I asked if their nation had these Two-Spirit traditions. It was amazing because everywhere I went these traditions existed," Tatonetti said.
Even though a part of many cultures' histories, she found that acceptance of Two-Spirit practices varied, and contemporary Two-Spirit people often faced the same tribulations as those with alternative sexuality and gender roles in the U.S.
"There are Two-Spirit societies all over the northwest area I visited and also throughout the U.S.," Tatonetti said. "It's funny, because while nations like the Navajo and Cherokee have multiple gender traditions, they also have passed their own defense of marriage acts.
"It's been a back-and-forth in many nations for a long time. I think this literature is blossoming right now because of shifts in the larger conversations in academia and queer studies, and because of the changes in understanding happening in the U.S.," Tatonetti said. "Historically these native nations are ahead of where American culture currently is in terms of their understanding of the complexity of gender and sex roles, but today they face similar debates and challenges."
Tatonetti recently co-edited and contributed to "Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Contemporary Two-Spirit Literature," which is slated for release with the University of Arizona Press in spring 2011. Her work on Two-Spirit literature has appeared in various journals, edited collections and contemporary magazines.
Tatonetti began studying Two-Spirit literature soon
|Contact: Lisa Tatonetti|
Kansas State University