Two-Spirit powwow shows Native American traditions of inclusion

Oct 6, 2023, 7:11 PM | Updated: 8:41 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Powwows have been a long-standing tradition but one ceremony on Friday celebrated certain members of Utah’s community.

The Two-Spirit Powwow held at the Salt Lake City Community College Lifetime Activities Center was all about blending an old belief with modern needs.

Kristina Groves, Behavioral Health Program Director for Urban Indian Center for Salt Lake (UICSL), said the powwow was a way they believed they could be more inclusive.

“This brings our entire community together,” Groves said.

Native American culture has a rich history, one that includes those who have sometimes felt excluded in other areas.

“Native American women and men both experience violence from the outside community and so it’s not safe to identify,” Groves said.

It’s why UICSL decided to host a Two-Spirit Powwow.

“Traditionally, in a lot of native communities two-spirit people were honored, they held high esteem,” Groves said.

The term two-spirit refers to gender identity and the belief that a person’s body simultaneously houses a masculine and feminine spirit. It’s a tradition that Groves said has been modernized to mean LGBTQ+.

“Before colonization, there was often more than one gender,” Groves added.

There were Two-Spirit gatherings, but now the old tradition is celebrated in a powwow – something that’s extra meaningful for Jacob Crane, the event’s Powwow Coordinator.

“It strengthens our cultural connectivity to each other, to the spirit of who we are as indigenous folks,” Crane said.

Unique to the Two-Spirit Powwow, according to Crane, is how the dancers switch roles.

“We are really creating a space for people to be themselves and feel respected for who they are,” Crane said.

Crane is hosting another Two-Spirit Powwow in Moab on October 21-22nd.

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Two-Spirit powwow shows Native American traditions of inclusion