Ethnicity, Race, & Migration | Trumbull College

Matty Motylenski
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Senior Essay Title: "The Emergence of “Two-Spirit” and Indigenous LGBTQ+ Organizing: Indigenizing and Queering Activism Across Turtle Island"

Adviser: Jay Gitlin

Abstract: Welcome to Indian Country! My Senior Essay pays tribute to the stories and the histories of our queer Indigenous ancestors and siblings across Turtle Island. This project combats the erasure, the invisibility, and the trauma-centered narratives of Indigenous Peoples by highlighting the activism and the resistance of Indigi-queer people. I describe the history and the reverence of multiple genders in Native American communities which are invaluable as they are testaments to the existence of gender-queer Indigenous Peoples from time immemorial. I chart the history of Indigenous LGBTQ+ activism in the late-twentieth-century on the eve of civil rights, the Red Power movements, and gay liberation up until today. I explain the impetus for the creation, the impact, and I analyze the complications of the term “Two-Spirit” to describe queer Indigenous Peoples. I argue that “Two-Spirit” is a process of reclamation, resistance, remembering, survival, and refusal. I intend to spread the history, the power, and the knowledge of Two-Spirits and Queer Indigenous Peoples to everyone. This project launches the recovery of the history of the resistance of our people. We learn to be radical from the elders before us. Their stories inspire and sustain us!