- By Darren Thompson
The 3rd Annual Two-Spirit Powwow celebrated with 60 registered dancers and six drums representing various tribes from all over Indian Country.
Prior to European colonization, many Indigenous communities acknowledged five genders: male, female, two-spirit males, two-spirit females, and transgendered. Two-spirit is a term generally and exclusively used by American Indian people and communities that define a male or female as having two genders—male and female simultaneously.
“In many different tribes, many Two-Spirit community members are very important and vital, and because we’re in an urban center, we’re not necessarily around our ancestral homelands,” Phoenix Indian Center’s Chief Executive Officer Jolyana Begay-Kroupa told Native News Online. “In many instances, our teachings become lost over time. This powwow is really about organizing a way to come back together, support and celebrate our brothers and sisters who are in the LGTBQ2S community.”
The Phoenix Indian Center has been organizing the powwow since 2021, when it was held virtually and has remained committed to supporting the LGBTQ2S community ever since. Founded in 1947, the Phoenix Indian Center is the oldest urban American Indian Center in the United States.
Last weekend’s Two-Spirit Powwow was co-organized by Mesa Community College and the South Mountain Community College and drew the largest crowd the event has seen so far. The powwow included more than two dozen art vendors, food vendors, and booths for people to sign up for information from the Phoenix Indian Center, Native Health, or how to become allies for the LGBTQ2s community.
“This was a great turnout today, lots of smiling faces,” Begay-Kroupa said of the powwow.
Monique “Muffie” Mousseau drove down from Rapid City, S.D., to attend the powwow to support both her partner, Felipa De Leon, as one of the head dancers and the Phoenix Indian Center.
“They supported us when Felipa and I were having a difficult time,” Mousseau said in an interview with Native News Online.
Mousseau and De Leon were married with seven other couples at the National Gay Marriage Celebration in 2015 at the Mount Rushmore National Monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota. When the couple discovered same-sex remained illegal on the Pine Ridge Reservation where they grew up, they petitioned for a change in the reservations law — which they achieved in 2019 when the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council passed a same-sex marriage ordinance in a 12–3 vote.
Mousseau and De Leon went on to start Uniting Resilience, an organization that advocates for other Indigenous communities to establish laws of protection and rights for marriage equality.
They help organize an annual two-spirit powwow in Sioux Falls.
Tony Duncan, award-winning hoop dancer and Native American flute player, attended the event with his family to support his brother, who was one of the head dancers of the powwow.
“We came as a family to support my brother, Kyle,” Tony Duncan told Native News Online. “It’s great to see everyone here.”
More Stories Like This‘Take this and carry it to the top of the world’ | Lakota Man Becomes the First Native American to Summit Mt. Everest
WATCH: Native Bidaské with MSNBC Contributor Alyssa London as She Discusses The Culture Is: Indigenous Women
Here’s What’s Going on in Indian Country, June 01—10
Long Awaited “Killers of the Flower Moon” about 1920 Osage Murders Receives a Nine- Minute Standing Ovation at Cannes Film Festival
First Nations Singer’s New Album A ‘Stamp in Time’ and ‘Act of Resistance’
Native News is free to read.
We hope you enjoyed the story you've just read. For the past dozen years, we’ve covered the most important news stories that are usually overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the rise of the American Indian Movement (AIM), to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous People (MMIP) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools.
Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps. Most readers donate between $10 and $25 to help us cover the costs of salaries, travel and maintaining our digital platforms. If you’re in a position to do so, we ask you to consider making a recurring donation of $12 per month to join the Founder's Circle. All donations help us remain a force for change in Indian Country and tell the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.
Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.