#TwoSpiritPeoples // Bry Cordell Smiley: ‘Haskell is a place of inclusion’

Two-Spirit Powwow takes place February 24-25 By Kevin Abourezk // @Kevin_Abourezk // Bry Cordell Smiley introduces himself in his traditional Navajo language. He describes the clans to which he belongs, his birthright as a citizen of the Navajo Nation. The 24-year-old is studying American Indian studies at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. He is learning his traditional language and culture, as well as the history of Native Americans. His knowledge and love of his traditional tribal culture has guided him through the many challenges he’s faced as a nádleehí, or two-spirit person. Born a male, Smiley now considers himself both male and female. In some traditional Native American cultures, two-spirit people were considered healers and were vital in maintaining the balance between men and women because they carried the spirit of both genders inside them. Today, they would typically be gay people, though not all two-spirit people are gay. Smiley said he wants to share his understanding of two-spirit people, past and present, with others. On February 24 and 25 in 2018, the Haskell student plans to host a Two-Spirit powwow at the university. It will be Haskell’s first such powwow in its 133-year history, Smiley said.

%d bloggers like this: