“When Europeans arrived in North America they were shocked that native peoples often interpreted gender differently from them. Not only were many cultures matriarchal, a great many tribes accepted three genders instead of only two.
Zuni Pueblo, in western New Mexico, honored three genders before the coming of protestant missionaries. Men who chose not to become hunters and warriors became lhamanas, members of the alternative gender that bridged the other two. While they were initiated into male religious societies, they became crafts specialists and wore female garb. They were nonwarriors who moved freely in the male and female worlds.
We-wha was a Zuni lhamana who helped bridge his culture and that of Anglo-Americans. He was one of the first Zunis to experiment with new economic activities, something essential in the changing world of his day. He was a cultural ambassador for Zuni, traveling to Washington, D.C., where no one guessed he was not a woman in the many months he mixed with "high society” there. He assisted Anglo scholars who came to record the ways of his people, but he also resisted Anglo incursions when they seemed improper – once even ending up in jail.
He was a deeply spiritual person… His photograph hangs in the tribal museum today, and gay Native Americans throughout North America remember him as a spiritual hero and guide.“ // –Robert Lentz
Demian DinéYazhi’ Untitled (For Anna Mae Aquash Pictou), 2013
– Printable poster 18"x 24" –
In the spirit of International Women’s Day, let us take a moment to honor the words and work of the late Mi'kmaq warrior Anna Mae Aquash Pictou, whose lifeline was shortened due to her brave and resilient spirit!
This poster was inspired by Anna Mae’s Aquash’s statement to the Court of South Dakota, made after her arrest and interrogation by the FBI regarding fellow activist Leonard Peltier, who was wanted tor the murder of two FBI agents. The FBI had arrested and interrogated Aquash a number of times throughout 1975, including one in which she was allegedly told she would not live out the year it she did not give up the information they wanted. Aquash claimed to have no information about Peltier. She was murdered in late 1975, and her body was discovered along a stretch of highway in South Dakota in February 1976.
About Anna Mae Aquash (March 27, 1945 – mid-December 1975):
Annie Mae Aquash (Mi'kmaq name Naguset Eask) was a Mi'kmaq activist from Nova Scotia, Canada, who became a member of the American Indian Movement, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, United States during the mid-1970s.
Aquash participated in the 1972 Trail of Broken Treaties and occupation of the Department of Interior headquarters in Washington, DC; the Wounded Knee Incident in 1973; and armed occupations in Canada and Wisconsin in following years. On February 24, 1976, her body was found on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota; she was initially determined to have died from exposure but was found to have been executed by gunshot. Aquash was thirty years old at the time of her death.