Friday, December 22, 2023

Christmas in Indian Country

 This is a really interesting article on different Christmas traditions throughout Indian Country. Happy Holidays from the Gadugi Partnership!!

Monday, November 6, 2023

Indigenous Fact

 Did you know that approximately 60% of the foods that constitute the world's diet originated with the Indigenous peoples of the Americas? 

Echoes of Resistance

 Please join us today for this exciting and important event!!

2:00 pm
Linville Falls (PSU Room 226)

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Friday, July 21, 2023

Fall Class!!

 Do you know a Cherokee High School student interested in Cherokee history and who would like to earn college credit? Each fall Appalachian State offers a course on the history of Cherokee education and schools--from the Moravians in 1801 through to the first schools on the Qualla Boundary. Each student who successfully completes the class receives three hours of college credit that transfers to any accredited school he or she attends!! Please feel free to share this widely if you know students who'd be interested, and feel free to reach out to me via my office phone or email if you need more information or have any questions. S'gi...and enjoy the last little bit of summer we have left!!

Click on the photo for more information!

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Pride in Indian Country: Barbara Cameron

 Shiyo! This week we are wrapping up our Pride Month celebration by examining the life of Barbara Cameron, a Hunkpapa Lakota and Two Spirit organizer and leader in San Francisco. Cameron was born on May 22, 1954 in Fort Yates and grew up on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. Raised by her grandparents, she was a multi-talented woman—working as a poet, a photographer, a powerful writer and, of course, as a tireless activist for Native American Two Spirit people. When Cameron was 9 years old, she read a news article about San Francisco. She told her grandmother that someday she would live there…“And save the world, too.” In 9th grade, Cameron won an essay contest sponsored by Pepsi. The theme, “You’ve Got a Lot to Live,” in many ways foreshadowed her life’s work. She studied film at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Sante Fe, New Mexico, before moving to San Francisco in 1973. 


In 1975 Cameron founded the Gay American Indians organization with Randy Burns (Northern Paiute). GAI was a forerunner to groups like the Bay Area American Indian Two Spirits. Cameron founded the group because of her belief that “Native American gay people had different needs and struggles than the white gay community. Moreover, there was a general lack of support for people of color within the lesbian and gay community.” In 1981 Cameron contributed an essay to the seminal work This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. In 1983, she contributed to the foundational work A Gathering of Spirit: A Collection of Writing and Art by North American Indian Women. One of her most important essays was “Gee, You Don’t Seem Like An Indian From the Reservation.” The essay has been describedas “a searing snapshot of the struggle to survive marginalization.” Another essay, “Frybread in Berlin,” discussed the lack of visability of people of color within the LGBTQ+ community. It was said of Cameron, “[Her] refusal to be queer in one corner of her life, and native in another, is as radical and transformative now, as it was then.


Cameron and her partner of 21 years, Linda Boyd, raised a son, Rhys Boyd-Farrell, and made San Francisco their home. She was the recipient of the Harvey Milk Award for Community Service in 1992 and was the inaugural recipient of the Bay Area Career Women Community Service Award in 1993. Cameron passed away at home on February 12, 2002, at the age of 47. In 2023, Google honored Cameron on her birthday with a Doodle. “In the end,” one journalist wrote, “Barbara Cameron’s passion, resilience and dedication allowed her not only to become a beacon and a voice for marginalized groups in the Bay Area, but also to act as a bridge between them.

Barbara Cameron

Monday, June 19, 2023

Pride in Indian Country: We'Wha

 Shiyo! Between December, 1885, and June, 1886, the city of Washington, D.C. was enthralled with and fascinated by a Zuni visitor named We’wha. Indigenous leaders had been visiting the capitol for years, but the society mavens and political powerbrokers of Washington had never met someone quite like We’wha. Born in 1849, We’wha was a Zuni Lhamana or Two Spirit. “Though born a male-bodied person,” Mariana Brandman wrote, “community members recognized that We’wha demonstrated traits associated with the lhamana as early as age three or four. In Zuni culture, lhamana (now more often described with the pan-Indian term “Two Spirit”) were male-bodied individuals who took on social and ceremonial roles generally performed by women. They usually, though not exclusively, wore women’s clothing and mostly took up labors associated with women. Lhamana constituted a socially-recognized third gender role within the tribe and often held positions of honor in the community.

” While in Washington, We’wha, “became the toast of the town on this trip and gained a degree of national celebrity.” We’wha met with legislators as well as President Grover Cleveland. The newspaper accounts of the visit refer to We’wha as “she” or “her,” “princess,” “priestess” “maiden,” or even “debutante.” During her time in Washington, We’wha learned to speak English. 

We’wha was brought to Washington by Matilda and James Stevenson, a married couple who were also anthropologists who had visited with and studied the Zuni. Ms. Stevenson described We’Wha as, “perhaps the tallest person in Zuni; certainly the strongest, both mentally and physically ... She had a good memory, not only for the lore of her people, but for all that she heard of the outside world ... She possessed an indomitable will and an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Her likes and dislikes were intense. She would risk anything to serve those she loved, but toward those who crossed her path she was vindictive. Though severe she was considered just.” We’wha was a brilliant potter, weaver, and took part in the Zuni men’s kachina society


Sadly, like Osh-Tisch, We’wha and the other Lhamana were persecuted by Christian missionaries. In the 1890s the Indian agent for the Zuni made it his goal to destroy the tradition of non-binary citizens of the nation. Also, like Osh-Tisch, We’wha was imprisoned along with other Zuni Lhamana. The Zuni protested and demanded their release, and the US government eventually relented, though the pressures of colonization and Christianization would not cease. 


We’wha died of heart disease in 1896 at the age of 49. Here is an excellent video from PBS on We’wha. Here’s another one


Plaque honoring We'Wha at San Francisco's 
Rainbow Walk of Honor

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Pride in Indian Country: Osh-Tisch (1854-1929)

 Shiyo! This week I wanted to share the story of a Two Spirit pioneer, Osh-Tisch (Crow). Osh-Tisch (1854-1929), whose name translates to “Finds Them and Kills Them,” was a member of the badé (also spelled baté) in the Crow Nation. Badé means “not man, not woman,” and was a sacred and well respected community within Crow society. Osh-Tisch “was an assigned-male-at-birth woman and was one of the last of the Crow Nation” to be a part of the bade—the community would be persecuted and driven underground by Christian missionaries. She earned her name in 1876 at the Battle of the Rosebud. Pretty Shield recounted to historians, “During the battle, a Crow warrior was wounded and fell from his horse. Sensing an opportunity, the Lakota charged forward to collect his scalp. In response, Osh-Tisch jumped off her horse, stood over him, and started shooting at the approaching Lakota ‘as rapidly as she could load her gun.’” 

By the 1890s, the Crow had been militarily defeated and were confined to the reservation system. A federal Indian Agent named Briskow was placed in charge of the Crow reservation, and he made one of his priorities attacking the traditional role and acceptance of badé within Crow society. Briskow forced the bade, including Osh-Tisch, to cut their hair, wear men’s clothing, and perform traditional men’s activities. It was a tragic time for Two Spirit people: “Unfortunately, harsh treatment from whites was not at all uncommon during this time, and a great many Two Spirits from other tribes ended up committing suicide after being forced into binary gender roles. A Lakota man described the treatment thusly: “I heard sad stories of winktes [Lakota Two Spirits] committing suicide, hanging themselves rather than change . . . after that, those who remained would put on man’s clothing.” Eventually, Osh-Tisch and all Crow badés were imprisoned under Briskow’s orders. Chief Pretty Eagle led a charge to get the women released, which was eventually successful and also led to the resignation of Agent Briskow. 


After her release, Osh-Tisch spent the rest of her life trying to explain and defend herself and the tradition of the badé to the missionaries and government workers who continued their efforts at undermining and erasing this aspect of Crow culture. Of her efforts it has been written, “In every case, her white contemporaries (who usually referred to her as “him”) would ask her questions like why she wore women’s clothes. She’d reply that she was “inclined to be a woman, never a man.” When they asked what work she did, she said, “All woman’s work,” and, with no small amount of pride, produced an ornate dress she’d made. Her entire life she tried to explain and normalize what and who she was. Under her leadership, a quiet intertribe outreach effort began to emerge, linking all the different tribes’ Two Spirits in secret communication in an attempt to facilitate understanding.”


Osh-Tisch died in 1929. “With no others to take up the role of baté,” one author writes, “the institution died out, and its ancient knowledge with it.” Similar losses occurred all across Indian Country. 


PS: I found this book while doing some research on Osh-Tisch that looks awesome! It’s called Rejected Princesses. Might be worth your time!


Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Pride in Indian Country: Why "Two Spirits?"

 Shiyo! Most of you have probably heard Native LGBTQ+ community members referred to by the term, “two spirit,” and you might have wondered where it came from. The phrase is a translation of an Anishinaabemowin term “niizh manidoowag,” meaning two spirits. Use of two spirit as a moniker for LGBTQ+ Indigenous people began in 1990 at the suggestion of Myra Laramee (Cree), “who proposed its use during the Third Annual Inter-tribal Native American, First Nations, Gay and Lesbian American Conference, held in Winnipeg.” The Indian Health Service describes Two-Spiritpeople in Native societies in this way: “Traditionally, Native American two-spirit people were male, female, and sometimes intersexed individuals who combined activities of both men and women with traits unique to their status as two-spirit people. In most tribes, they were considered neither men nor women; they occupied a distinct, alternative gender status.


Early French explorers noted the presence and acceptance of same-sex relationships among men in the Native societies they encountered and used the word “berdache,” meaning “an intimate male friend” to describe them. The English and Spanish, though, were less charitable, referring to these same men as “sodomites.” Walter Williams wrote, “Two-spirit people were respected by native societies not only due to religious attitudes, but also because of practical concerns. Because their gender roles involved a mixture of both masculine and feminine traits, two-spirit persons could do both the work of men and of women. They were often considered to be hard workers and artistically gifted, of great value to their extended families and community. Among some groups, such as the Navajo, a family was believed to be economically benefited by having a "nadleh" (literally translated as "one who is transformed") androgynous person as a relative. Two-spirit persons assisted their siblings' children and took care of elderly relatives, and often served as adoptive parents for homeless children.” There was no stigma in traditional indigenous communities—there was respect, honor, and love. This is an awesome video tutorial that does a great job of discussing and explaining the history of Two Spirits within Indian Country. Here is a beautiful photo essay on Two Spirit people from the Pine Ridge community in South Dakota from The Guardian by Magdalena Wosinska. 


The differences between the treatment of Two Spirit men and women by Indigenous and European societies is stark and illuminating. It’s also a reminder of the radical decency of traditional Indian Country ways of being and living. 

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Pride in Indian Country

 Shiyo, all! And Happy Pride Month! As I do each year, I will be posting materials on the month across Gadugi’s Facebook and Instagram pages as well as on our blog. Also as usual, sadly, I expect to receive pushback from folks who are normally supportive of the work but who want me to “stick to Indian issues.” It’s an amazing sentiment—as if there are not American Indians who also live and love within the LGBTQ+ communities. We call this overlap “intersectionality,” a once-obscure legal concept (like Critical Race Theory) developed by Black Feminist scholar Kimberle Crenshaw. Also like CRT, the theory of intersectionality has come under fire recently—when the state of Florida banned AP African American Studies, the state Board of Education took particular umbrage with and demanded the removal of selections from Dr. Crenshaw—along with bell hooks, Angela Davis, and others. So, the “stick to Indian issues” mantra is just one more form of erasure—a broken society telling our community “you can be Indian, you can be gay, but you can’t be both.” This does incredible damage to our LGBTQ+ relatives. 

 Although dependable numbers are difficult to come by, the most recent available statistics show that there are around 285,000 American Indian/Alaska Native adults who identify as LGBTQ+, or approximately 6% of all adult AIANs. A number of Indian communities have taken steps to protect and support this community through health and wellness programs, and you can find some powerful examples here. The assistance is deeply necessary, with many Indigenous LGBTQ+ reporting high rates of harassment, threats and violence. 35% of LGBTQ+ AIAN have been diagnosed with depression, and a heart-wrenching 56% of AIAN transgender youth report having attempted suicide. There are a number of resources available at the Indian Health Service site. There are also great resources here and here. Feel free to use these and, of course, to pass them along to anyone who may find them helpful. 


Native American LGBTQ+ people exist and deserve respect and love. Sadly, not all in Indian Country recognize or agree with this stance. Colonialism is a powerful thing that often pits us against our own cultures and traditions. This Pride Month, let’s fight colonialism, and simply do the right thing—by letting our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters know that we love them, we are here for them, and we will fight for them. Happy Pride Month!

Friday, May 12, 2023

Congratulations, Derek!

 Congratulations to Derek Torres, a former Gadugi Scholar who graduates from Appalachian State University today with a degree in communications and creative writing!! Wonderful job, young man! Best wishes for an amazing future!!

App State Graduate Derek Torres

Monday, February 13, 2023

Charles George KIA Bracelets

 Friday was a special day for the Gadugi Partnership! We were honored to present each Cherokee High School ROTC student with a memorial Charles George KIA bracelet. Charles George was a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians who gave his life during the Korean War. George won the Medal of Honor for his bravery and sacrifice. We hoped to honor the commitment of the ROTC students and to, hopefully, inspire them by reminding them of their community's long history of service. #Gadugi #gobraves #CHSROTC

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

SAIM Program at Watauga County Public Library

 Hey Boonies with children--come to the Watauga County Public Library on February 8th at 11:00 am and join App State's Student American Indian Movement for a reading of Joseph Bruchac's retelling of the traditional Cherokee story "The First Strawberries!" The first 15 children get a FREE copy of the book to take home (one per family). S'gi, and hope to see you there!

Watauga County Public Library
11:00 am

Friday, November 18, 2022


 In 864, the Mayan dedicated the Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza.

Chichen Itza: pre-Colombian city built
by the Mayans.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Indigenous Learning

 S'gi to Ms. Miranda Stamper of Cherokee Middle School for a fantastic presentation yesterday here at App! As part of our celebration of Native American Heritage Month, Ms. Stamper spoke to us about Indigenous ways of teaching and learning. It was a wonderful way for us to conclude our celebrations of the month! #gadugi #GoBraves #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth

Ms. Miranda Stamper speaks to ASU students 
and faculty on Wednesday

Monday, November 14, 2022

Who We Are

 Last week, we had the opportunity to educate campus through the “We Are Here” panel discussion series. The event went well, but there was part of it that I found discouraging and a little depressing. It seemed that so much of what we talked about was telling the people there what we are not as a community and people instead of positively asserting who and what we are. It reminded me of a quote from Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross. “Convince the world by your character,” he said, “that Indians are not as they have been shown.” That’s an unfair burden and expectation, but it is a reality for Native people. After 50 years of Hollywood stereotypes and erasure from the history books Native people—Native youth especially—confront so many ignorant tropes that we always begin with a deficit model in our conversations. Last Wednesday, we told those gathered that we are not all dark skinned. We are not all enrolled. We do not all come from cultures that use dreamcatchers. We do not all get to attend college for free. We are not all diversity admissions. And on and on.


But if we had the opportunity to tell campus who we are, what would you say? For me, I would let the world know that we are a community not merely of survivors, but of thrivers. We are a people with an extraordinary reserve of resilience, and a relentless people who for five centuries have resisted colonialism and attempted physical, cultural, and spiritual genocide. We are a community that cares for one another. We have a culture with much to teach the rest of the world about matrilineal cultures, consensus government, and being caretakers of the planet. That’s only a tiny piece of who we are, and we need to let campus—and the world—know. 


Take some time this week to consider how we may reframe this conversation from, as John Ross said, proving to the world what we are not, and instead proudly showing who we are. Who. We. Are. Together we can move the conversation in that direction. Our people and the world will be better for it. S’gi.


 In 1969, American Indian Movement activists first occupy Alcatraz Island.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Happy Veterans Day!

Did you know that American Indians serve in the United States military at 5 times the national average? Or that, since 9/11, nearly 19 percent of American Indians have served? Happy Veterans Day from the Gadugi Partnership and s'gi to you all for your service to this nation!!

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Medal of Honor recipient
Charles George statue in Veterans Park on the Qualla Boundary

Wednesday, November 9, 2022


In 1871, the 2,854 square mile San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation is established. The reservation became the home of Apache, Mohave, and Yuma Indians.