Native PFLAG hosted the first Two Spirit powwow in Arizona earlier this month thanks to support from the Phoenix PRIDE Community Grant Program and South Mountain Community College, where the event was held. This powwow, focused on Two Spirit people, joins only two others: Bay Area American Two Spirits hosted their 8th annual event in San Francisco earlier this year, and another was held by a student at Haskell University last year.
Roughly 800 people attended, along with 20 LGBTQ-focused and Native population-centered non profits, including vendors selling Native arts & crafts and traditional foods.
The event featured three extraordinary dancers.
Jordan Waquiu, Pueblo of Laguna, from the village of Mesita, whose clans are big sun and little eagle, identifies as two-spirit. She has been on her journey for five years and has endured many struggles within the tribal community. Despite the struggles she is honoring herself and showing future generations how to do the same. She couldn’t have done it without the help of her husband (Vincent) who has been by her side.
Lacy Bacon, Shoshone-Bannock/Colville/Spokane Tribes, was honored to be asked to participate as a head dancer. In her tribe Two-Spirit people were known as healers and very special to traditional values. Lacy saw this as a special opportunity to express her gratitude and hosted an Owl dance special, encouraging all Two-Spirit people and their allies to participate.
The third dancer was Aaron Fry, Cherokee/Chickasaw, who has been dancing since the age of 10 and is a champion southern straight dancer.He resides in Laguna Pueblo with his wife and their two children. Aaron is an ally of the LGBTQ/Two-Spirit community and was honored to be asked to serve as a head dancer.
Following the BAAITS model, PFLAG Native removed gender from their dance categories. According to PFLAG Native president Sheila Lopez, “Traditionally, powwow categories are listed with the gender binary. However, many tribes recognize more than two genders so the powwow committee decided to remove gender from all categories. This gave all dancers an opportunity to participate in the category they wished to. We welcomed all gender expressions and honored those that don’t identify with the gender binary.” According to Lopez, “The Arizona Two Spirit Powwow was a Safe Space and welcoming environment for everyone.”
The event opened with a blessing from a member from a local tribe (Salt River) and a welcome from a Two Spirit individual. Overall there were around 35 dancers and awards were given in a variety of categories, including Tiny Tots, Teens, Adult Northern Traditional/Southern Straight, Committee Two Spirit Special, and more.
Photographer Polaroid Phoenix captured beautiful photos of the event and even the local news covered the event.
Congratulations to all who participated, and to Native PFLAG for co-hosting such an extraordinary event!