Headdress

Introduction

The term Two Spirit is an umbrella term that focuses on the important roles that Two Spirit held prior to colonization. Specific teachings, roles, language, and meanings come from the certain community. There are many examples that come from the different language groups in Saskatchewan. The following are some examples:

  • Dakota/Lakota- Wintike (double woman)
  • Ojibwe – Okitcitakwe (warrior woman)
  • Ojibwe – Ogokwe (warrior man)

The Cree people have several names that reflect the Two Spirit name.

  • ayahkwêw (U-yuh-gwayo): roughly translates to “neither man nor woman”. A man dressed/living/accepted as a woman.  Some have suggested this word can actually be used as a ‘third’ gender of sorts, applied to women and men.
  • napêw iskwêwisêhot (nu-PAYO ihs-gwayo-WIH-say-hoht): a man who dresses as a woman
  • iskwêw ka napêwayat (ihs-GWAYO ga nu-PAYO-wuh-yut): a woman dressed as a man
  • înahpîkasoht (ee-nuh-PEE-gu-soot), a woman dressed/living/accepted as a man. (also translated as someone who fights everyone to prove they are the toughest?  Interesting!)
  • iskwêhkân (IS-gwayh-gahn), literally ‘fake woman’, but without negative connotations.
  • napêhkân (NU-payh-gahn) literally ‘fake man’, but without negative connotations.

The teachings, roles, and responsibilities for a Two Spirit person will differ from community to community. Each tribe and Indigenous person has their own understanding and beliefs of what it truly means to live and be Two Spirit. An important element is that the identity is specific to being Indigenous. There is a direct acknowledgment of the disruption of Two Spirit teachings that took place when first contact between Indigenous peoples and settlers were made.