OKLAHOMA: Cherokee Nation To Recognize Same-Sex Marriages Just As They Did In “Past Centuries”

Tulsa World reports:

While a tribal court recently avoided ruling on the issue, the Cherokee Nation will begin recognizing same-sex marriages under an opinion issued Friday by the tribe’s attorney general, who noted that Cherokees practiced something similar to gay marriage in past centuries.

While agreeing that the tribe, as a sovereign nation itself, was not bound by the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision that made gay marriage legal in all 50 states, Todd Hembree echoed the court’s reasoning, deciding that the tribe’s own constitution “protects the fundamental right to marry” regardless of the genders involved in the relationship. That decision effectively nullifies a law the Cherokee Nation enacted in 2004 to specify that marriages recognized by the tribe had to be between a man and woman.

That law came after two women, Dawn McKinley and Kathy Reynolds, obtained a marriage license from the tribe. Then-Attorney General Dianne Hammons issued an opinion that the license was invalid because Cherokee law, while not specifically requiring couples to be opposite-sex, presumed the traditional definition of marriage. The Tribal Council then quickly passed a bill to make that definition explicit.

(Tipped by JMG reader Eric)

  • Good news to start a Saturday. πŸ˜€πŸ‘

  • TuuxKabin

    A highly red heart Recommended thread, that’s two this morning, Joe! Giving us a lil’ bit of Christmas a couple weeks early? And thank you Eric for the lead.

  • Michael R
    • Treant

      I’m glad you Cher-ed this with us.

      • Michael R

        I hope I didn’t ruffle any feathers .

        • TuuxKabin

          Nah, not a one! Great meme.

        • J Ascher

          Just don’t bogard the peace pipe, man!

    • Well, since I’ve plastered the faces of several of my relatives on JMG this morning, i might as well put up one of me wearing an actual warbonnet, rather than the one shown above, which is sort of like looking at a cheap weave. There’s an old Indian joke, where a Native points at a halloween style war bonnet like she’s wearing and says–“Know what we call this in our language? Tacky.” https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/818550f3a739cffcbb56426124f02b9b805dc5c2856efe1a8a6dc5ae6f6de86b.jpg This was taken as we got ready for a parade at our big annual powwow. my mom’s behind me, spreading things out on one of our trucks. She’s wearing a traditional headdress woven out of cornhusk.

        • fuzzybits


          • NancyP

            Which large bird? Golden eagle? Bald eagle? Other? I have heard that one is supposed to send really large feathers that aren’t obviously turkey or vulture to the local conservation department to forward to some portion of the Fed. government to make available to Native Americans. But all the flight primarys I ever see are from vultures and turkeys.

            We do have bald eagles, some of whom nest here. They love the locks and dams on the Mississippi – stunned fish come out the dam flow and the eagles collect on the downstream side to scoop them up. Apparently the dam water flow inside the gate tends to “whirlpool” like a front-loading washing machine – no wonder the fish are stunned.

      • another_steve

        Ty — Fyi, a story that has been much in the news here in Baltimore in recent days.

        “In the council’s final controversial act, members failed to muster enough votes to strip Christopher Columbus of his holiday. The bill to rename the day for indigenous peoples and Italian-Americans needed eight votes to pass, but the final tally was 7-6 with two members abstaining.”


        • When I used to work for United indians of All Tribes, we were told Columbus Day was “Indian Day,” and we were given the day off. Later on, Seattle and a number of other cities got on board with Indigenous Day.

          And as I’ve mentioned before–Native American as a term didn’t actually arise from American Indians, but was coined (with good intentions) in the 1970s and used as a federal term, but it automatically included three major groups–American Indians like me, Alaskan Natives (there are American Indians in Alaska, but there are other Native groups there that don’t self-identify as American Indian, such as the Eskimo (a non-pc term in Canada, where they use the term Innuit, but there are no Innuit in Alaska. The dialect spoken in northern Alaska is Innupiaq. There are also Eskimo who speak Yupik and Siberian Yupik. Eskimo is actually Cree in origin and means “Eaters of raw meat,” and was intended as a slur, but it’s accepted in Alaska. You have to realize if we’re not using our own language, then any word in English, Russian, French, or another Native language is just another foreign word for us, so we don’t tend to get bent out of shape over the usage, other than the racist “Redskin(s).”There are also Alutes in Alaska who don’t identify as Eskimo or American Indian. Btw, having eaten raw caribou myself, if might be helpful to know it’s actually frozen when you eat it, and it has the texture of eating frozen strawberries, and is naturally sweet. Which then makes sense as to why “Eater of raw meat” doesn’t seem like it’s a judgment. Seal meat is black and tastes very strongly of fish.

          But Native American also included Native Hawaiians. This resulted in an unintended consequence, where suddenly Native Hawaiians were the second largest Native group, but no additional resources were allocated for them. Two of the oldest and largest American Indian organizations–the National Tribal Chairman’s Association and the National Congress of American Indians protested the name, which is why on your federal forms and the U.S. census, I’m identified under “American Indian/Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiians are now classified under Polynesian/Pacific Islanders.

          But back on the Reservations, we just call ourselves “Indians,” since we grow up on an American Indian reservation and we have to deal with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA–originally this was under the Department of War, which explains a lot of our history) and we get treated by the Indian Health Services. But a non-Native can never go wrong using the term Native American and we recognize they mean well and are trying to be respectful. But it does irritate a lot of us when we’re told what we should be called by outsiders.

          • another_steve

            I’m a strong proponent of the right of a person and a people to choose their name, Ty. How they wish to be referred to. Others should not — must not — choose for them.

            It’s a layered and subtle matter. Your comment above illustrates it. Here on JMG there have been discussions with regard to how trans people wish to be referred to. The “name” they choose for themselves. For their “tribe,” if you will.

            Catholic gay activists (I’m married to one) lobby their Church hierarchy and request that LGBT people be referred to, by the Church, in the way that LGBT people in the pews wish to be referred to. Not as the hierarchy chooses, but how the Catholic LGBT tribe chooses.

            Great comments, Ty. Thanks for all your insights.

          • amen. When I was teaching, i told my students, “Telling you what to call us is about self-empowerment. You telling us what we should be called is Colonialism.”

          • UrsusArctos

            As soon as I heard the Canadian “1st People” my heart jumped. My dad always said his people here the 1st Americans. I wish that phrase had taken hold instead of Native Americans. 1st People probably won’t fly south of the border because it involves thinking about anyone other than Europeans.

          • NancyP

            I like First Nations. Native Americans also ok. Both are broad terms helpful for non-FN/NA people who don’t know specific affiliation of the individual they want to address. I find “Indian” confusing because I work with a lot of South Asian Indians.

          • McSwagg

            Thanks for the History and Culture lesson. I have always been interested in Native American History and Culture. The difficult thing has always been to find information from the Native American perspective, rather than from the non-Native “white man” perspective. Again, thanks for sharing.

  • Bill_Perdue

    This is tremendous news and it’ll have an impact on many native nations.

    • This makes the Cherokee Nation number 33 among Indian tribes/nations to recognize same-sex marriage; along with 70-odd that do not specifically proscribe it. (I ran across this story earlier and did some research.)

    • Bill’s Old SWP Buddy

      You’re the last person to be speaking on the interests of native peoples. Why don’t you come clean about your past with the SWP? We know what you did.

      • David Walker

        The honorable gentleman from Wisconsin, Senator Joseph McCarthy, returns from the dead.

      • Bill_Perdue

        hi vorpig

  • lymis

    Good for them.

    Welcome to the 21st century.

    • The opinion is really interesting, in that he points out that the Cherokee recognized differences in sexual orientation and may have formalized same-sex relationships in some way before European contact — or, as he put it, Christianity.

    • ByronK

      Or just returning to their traditions. Indigenous wisdom is too often ignored and has been for centuries. Climate change specialist are finally waking up to realize that Indigenous communities are encyclopedias when it comes to the environment and changes in nature. Makes sense when you culture sees itself as part of nature and the greater whole unlike people like Coulter who claim we have the god-given right to rape the shit out of it.

      • CanuckDon

        “You think you own whatever land you land on
        The earth is just a dead thing you can claim
        But I know every rock and tree and creature
        Has a life, has a spirit, has a name”

  • BearEyes

    Happy for the Cherokees and I love the reasoning about reclaiming their heritage

  • another_steve

    I’m quite sure early American indigenous peoples — unencumbered by Judeo-Christian religion — had no hang-ups with LGBT people. We know that the tradition of the “Two-Spirited” is deeply rooted within their cultures.

    Religious/spiritual traditions not tainted by Judeo-Christian anti-body anti-sex obsession are generally (not universally, but generally) unopposed to the reality of same-sex love and attraction.

    I’m part of Philosophical Daoist circles and have rarely encountered straight Philosophical Daoists with hang-ups on the issue.

    • SoCalGal20

      I remember learning a bit about third and fourth genders recognized by some of the tribes in an anthropology class a while back. Very interesting.

    • Silver Badger

      That depends on the tribe. If memory serves, the blackfoot tribe simply killed their gay people.

      • another_steve

        If so, it was probably the result of primal species-extinction fear.

        If you’re part of an endangered and diminishing population, it’s important to reproduce and reproduce often. Same-sex attraction might get in the way.

        I believe that explains the anti-(male) homosexuality taboo in Hebrew scripture, for instance.

        • David Walker

          Thanks for the reminder. That’s how I saw it for many years, but it’s always nice to have your opinion backed up.

        • (((GC)))

          That and “Don’t be like our heathen neighbors who have sex with female and male temple sex workers as a way to be close to their gods.”

      • https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/944b35dfd3160ab71fe6fa8d294b592aed1dab9a01461b1da76becf7116f1e71.jpg (I used to lecture on this stuff, so that’s why I have a lot of relevant images loaded on my laptop). I was named a National Humanities Scholar (when the NHA called, one of my workmates answered the phone and then replied, “Are you sure you have the right person?” I was required to give a presentation at one of the universities in Montana, and got to see their new museum exhibition before it opened for the public. This dress was on display. My Blackfeet guide (The Canadian folks are called Blackfoot, and their relatives on this side of the border are Blackfeet) mentioned the dress is designed for someone over 6ft 3″–the little plaque on the display case read “Medicine Woman’s Dress.” I asked her, “Are a lot of your women over 6ft 3”?

        Guide: “No.”

        me: “Isn’t this actually the clothing of a Two-Spirit?”

        Guide: “Yeah, that’s what we told the (white) director of the museum, but he thought it was too controversial, so he had it printed up this way.”

        Which is called “erasure,” where both Natives and non-Natives are not even allowed access to history and truth.

        To the best of my knowledge, the Blackfeet and Blackfoot didn’t kill their Two-Spirit folks. I was also able to find a historic photo of a Blackfeet Two-Spirit on horseback with the Glacial National Park in the background.

        • Silver Badger

          I am so glad memory failed me. This time. I do remember that native american acceptance was not universal but I am sorry for defaming the wrong tribe.

        • NancyP

          Lovely dress, btw.

        • greenmanTN

          I’m sure you know much more about this than I, but I loved the book The Zuni Man-Woman, who lived for a while in 1880s Washington DC demonstrating native weaving, for which she was reknowned. She was welcomed at society parties and even met Pres Cleveland.


    • UrsusArctos

      The Iroquois, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Apache, Hopi, and many peoples were matrilineal and that the real power laid with women – making them in effect matriarchal as well. Nothing Xian there, for sure.

      • another_steve

        Cultural Jews reading here know that traditional Jewish society and household is heavily matriarchal. Despite what Jewish men may think.

        A bit of Kabuki theater, the whole scene.

        • David Walker

          Indeed. I’ve known a few Jewish mothers. Enjoyed their company and knew to do as they “suggested.”

          • another_steve

            One messes with a Jewish mother at one’s peril.

            The Italians think their mothers are tough.

            Wusses they are, compared to ours.

          • UrsusArctos

            I’ll ask an Italian Jewish buddy for confirmation if they get “the best of both”. *grin*

        • UrsusArctos

          My husband is a member of the (Jewish) tribe. He said that while his father always wore the pants in the family, his mom told him which pants to wear.

          • another_steve


            That’s it.

            Exactly. πŸ˜‰

  • Does anyone know if this is binding on the Eastern Band of the Cherokee? I don’t know if they maintain a separate government or not.

  • SoCalGal20

    Great news!

  • TrollopeReader

    O/T …hope all enjoy a happy weekend — stay safe for those in the snow and blizzard zones — and stay safe from crazy shoppers everywhere!

    • TuuxKabin

      You too! If I can find the Mike-Hot-Pence’s schedule, in Time Square we want to go lay some cash on him.

    • Ragnar Lothbrok

      Snowing here.

    • David Walker

      We were forecast for flurries yesterday. Snow was a no show. It’s in the forecast for tomorrow. Could happen. Although meteorology fascinates, I won’t believe a forecast more than 12 hours out and seldom believe 24 hours out. Weather still thrives on the Chaos Theory, that a butterfly in Africa can be responsible for the next hurricane just by flapping its wings.

      • TrollopeReader

        beautiful but chilly (30s) here … i usually have to figure out the weather once its happened … the canal is a definite line of change … snow one side, rain the other … or the opposite…

    • CanuckDon

      Got my shovel ready…..for the snow…. (not for the shoppers…oh no…not for the shoppers).

      • David Walker

        Ha! Jack wrote a poem called “Tourist Season” in which he wished it meant the same thing as “hunting season.” He was a strange and wonderful person. I think he might have something to say about shopping season, too.

      • William

        Tasers are for shopping.

  • gaymex1

    The small amount of Cherokee dna I have did a happy dance when I read this.

    • TuuxKabin


      • gaymex1

        I didn’t have any spare eagle feathers, so I just grabbed a couple of faded boas and flapped around for awhile…temptingly close to the bar, but it’s early still so I refrained.

        • TrollopeReader

          mimosa or bloody mary time, though!

        • TuuxKabin

          “temptingly close to the bar, but it’s early”? Numero uno, dollingk, the sun’s up, isn’t it?

          • gaymex1

            The sun may be up, but I can’t see it. Overcast and rainy. The rain’s needed so I’m not complaining. It’s a grey day anyway since hubby will be landing in Los Angeles right about now. I hate being apart. Drinking alone is probably not advised.

          • TuuxKabin

            Damn I hate separations, and you’re correct, drinking alone is prolly not advised. Friend just sent photo of him and BF and their schnauzer from Progreso yesterday. Looked ideal. In your opinion and observation has the weather pattern change on the Yucatan, the summer monsoons not as predictable as, say 12 – 15 years ago?

          • gaymex1

            It does seem like there is less summer rain now than when I lived here 30 years ago. A couple of years ago we had a really dry summer with lots of brush fires, but take everything I say with a grain of salt…it pretty much depends on where you live. Thirty years ago I lived in Merida and Isla Mujeres…of course, the rain fall, prevailing winds, etc., were totally different in those two locations.
            Just a couple of miles between locations can make a huge difference when it comes to thunderstorms and squalls.
            I guess the answer is: l don’t know. All the information I have is anecdotal and I wouldn’t want to rely on it.
            As you know, the temp is either hot, very hot, or extremely hot. That said, nights for the last week or so required neither pool plunges nor fans. Pool is about 78 degrees, which I now consider too cold….lol.

          • TuuxKabin

            If you follow BBC on line, maybe you found/saw this article. Fascinating. And you are there. I was too several years ago.

            I remember the UNO bus ride from Cancun to Merida, in May one year. Before landing we could smell the smoke in the cabin of the plane. On the approach, the smoke from the many fires. We took the bus to the UNO terminal to get the bus to Merida, and on the autopista, driving into the setting sun it was smoke, haze and fire on either side of the road, and even in the meridian of the highway. I thought of Dante’s “Nine Circles of Hell”.

            Hope you’re no longer on your own, but re-united with the Hubs. We just had an appointment with our attorney to cross all the t’s, and dot all the i’s in our will. Tweak it a bit, as things have changed. Was nice, in that her building is connected to Grand Central Terminal, one of my favorite places in the city. On the way out we spent $70 on a wee bottle of balsamic vinegar and another on basil olive oil. The combo on the taste spoon was phenomenal. Part of our ‘joint’ Christmas present to the ‘household’.


    • greenmanTN

      Me too and a little black, via a Melungeon ancestor. Other (distant) family members were upset and I was going hurrah!

      • gaymex1

        I’d like to have a DNA test done. Just to see what’s what. I’m just happy to exist and the more of a blend, the better. Rainbow.

  • Dale Snyder

    Ah, and here I thought that marriage was only between one man and one woman for the last 5,000 years. /s

    • J Ascher

      Years ago, I tried to point out to Sen. John Cornyn that, not even in the Judeo-Christian tradition, was marriage always between a man and a woman. Of course, he didn’t accept that.

    • Bill Post

      One man… one chattle

    • Guest

      I dated a wonderful native American man in Denver for over a year. We had this conversation with a number of his native American friends and his family. While my sources are but him , those conversations, and some online reading, he always said that only some tribes accepted us and then it was off and on over time. To the rest, we were still just f$gs. I am not sure if acceptance was as grand as this image makes it seem like it was

      As to him,i still chat with him about every year to year and a half. He is well, and I suspect still one of the best dang subs you would ever meet.

      • justmeeeee

        what’s his number?

        • Guest

          Well, it starts with 303. He grew up there and has an older number, so usually they have the 303 ones, not the 720 ones, but as people give up numbers, that will become less true.

          6′ tall, has a lighter skin for a native American, but you can still see the beautiful features of his people. He is thinner with dark hair and greenish brown eyes. He does go to Charlies occasionally, or he used to. If he goes, it would be on a Friday. He also usually wears a baseball hat and has an amazing smile.

          That is all you get. The rest is up to you.

          • justmeeeee

            So I have to try every thin dark-haired baseball cap wearer I can find, and then after when he gives me his number and it’s not 303, I have to keep on trying! Ok, I’ll do it.

  • Henry Auvil

    Tony Perkins will be calling for the Cherokee to be deported over this. Oh wait…

    • McSwagg

      Sadly, it’s been done. (Trail of Tears)

  • Ragnar Lothbrok

    Good good!. Now to erase the rest of xtian influence, then we can all survive and thrive.

    • Ray Taylor

      What is that newspaper trying to hide? Hmmm.

  • David From Canada

    When I was a kid growing up, we used to play a game called Cowboys And Indians in which the Cowboys were the good guys and the Indians were the bad guys, the savages. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that we had the roles reversed.
    Kudos to the Cherokee Nation for recognizing same-sex marriage without all the fighting and shouting that the ‘civilized’ people did.

    • OdieDenCO

      …Well I found a book the other day,
      so I looked up red and white to see what it’d say.
      One was a savage the other unlearned,
      like a look in the mirror the tables were turned,
      for history has named you – savage…

      song of crazy horse – JD Blackfoot

    • I will admit to having tied up more than one cowboy, but it was always consensual…

    • David Walker

      For some reason (gee, I wonder why) I was always made to be one of the Indians. While I always knew the outcome would not be in my favor, it DID make me sympathetic.

  • Yeah, i figure since I’m pretty much the only member of this community who regularly identifies as American Indian I’m expected to comment on this. Well–i’m happy. I am unaffiliated with the Cherokee (I’m Sahaptin and Tiwa), but I did run a substance abuse prevention for them over a decade ago. While a handful of Native Nations have recognized marriage equality, there’s a definite correlation between how Christianized a reservation is and how anti-LGBT it tends to be, like many General American rural communities. Back in the day of American and Canadian apartheid, when we weren’t permitted to attend white schools, both federal governments forced Native people to attend federally run boarding/residential schools. We were franchised out to different Christian groups in the manner of KFC or McDonald’s, so there wouldn’t be competition. That means even today you’ll see Native communities tend to be of a specific denomination. For many this meant Catholic, and that also means we shared a long and terrible history of sexual and physical abuse within the residential schools. When I was chief curriculum writer for the Gathering of Native Americans (the National Native American Substance Abuse Prevention Program we field-tested with the Cherokee) I had included in the index of the curriculum information about the sexual abuse from the Catholic Church, which helped explain why generations of sexually abused Native people turned to alcohol and drugs as a type of self-medication. The feds removed that information without comment before the curriculum was distributed by Health and Human Services. This was around the time the Boston Globe was doing its expose on the Catholic Church’s sex scandals.

    Historically, there was a decision made by the federal government to reorganize the government of all American Native Nations into corporate board structures. The feds didn’t care Native Nations had been governing themselves for thousands of years, or that the Iroquois Confederacy actually served as a model for the American Founding Fathers. The federal overlay of a tribal board of directors often split communities. Happily, my mom’s reservation managed to ‘thread the needle,’ where they kept our traditional government, where we have three life time hereditary chiefs (we’re “confederated” which means when the reservation was created in the 1800s, the feds forced three linguistically unrelated groups into one geographic area. Two of our peoples were from the Columbia River, and were forced on to the high desert territory of the Paiute. In March, my Wasco relatives have a dirge ceremony, when we sing our canoe songs in memory of our life on the Columbia River.

    But it did mean for some of the more traditionally minded communities, the tribal councils were seen as little more than puppet governments of the feds. This meant often the most traditional of the Native groups wanted nothing to do with the tribal councils, and they were often filled up by the least traditional of the community (ie., often the most fundamentalist Christian or Mormon) who had no interest in keeping up culture and language(s). They called families like mine the slur, “Blanket Indians.” I was really creeped out when I did a on-site visit of a Headstart program on a reservation in Alaska, where for their culture activity, the children were taught one of the Mormon Native kiddy songs–which includes the lyric “Go my son, leave your reseration. Go my son, get your education…”

    T[hat’s why some of the fundies on tribal councils got pissy and drew up laws NOM would be proud of on reservations like the Navajo and up until now, the Cherokee. Some of you may remember years ago when the Mohawk blocked their roads so the Canadian government couldn’t bulldoze a Mohawk burial ground for a golf course. The armed standoff traumatized a lot of the community, including the children. The Mohawk began using an American therapist. At one point she asked,”You’re not healing th way you should. There’s something you’re leaving out–what is it?” And a Mohawk woman stood and said, “It’s homophobia. No one here will talk about it.” So she told them to bring me in. The Mohawk require all information shared with community members be provided in English, French, and Mohawk. But one of their (Christian) Native speakers refused to translate the flyer on our Two-Spirit Gathering, saying there was no Mohawk word for Two-Spirit, since gays only existed among white people. Sound familiar? I ended up running my workshop off reserve, in Montreal, so the Mohawk Two-Spirits and their allies felt safer.

    So–good on the Cherokee’s finally honoring their own traditions and getting with the 21st century, but I regret it’s taken them so long, and that so many other Native Nations have held back from recognizing the rights of all their citizens.

    And to lighten the load on this fine Saturday–here’s an old photo of my mom (in the middle) and her two sisters–she explaiened they were bored one day, so “dressed crazy” and took pictures of each other. it cracks me up my mom is cross-dressing. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bbcfc77e17e737afc258008ea37ab8ecb1cbc12cf5ff6227afdd289afdacddc0.jpg

    • https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7d4f990d424ca273b45c946cc2de9b185efc0ce05601f9dedf91640e640eeb28.jpg And here’s a photo– on the right side is my Aunt Prunie (in the B&W photo, she’s on the far left) and her husband, my Uncle Rooster in his red sweater. On the left side is my Uncle Nelson, who is one the Three Chiefs (Wasco) and his husband, who I always called my Aunt Jack. They had been together at least twenty years when the photo was taken. Everyone knew about their relationship, and my Uncle Nelson both being a Chief and a Medicine Man provided a very useful role model for the community. The photo was taken at the raising of the headstone for my Uncle Rooster’s mother.

      • bzrd

        Ty, you do all of us a service sharing your history and part of ours even though many will not recognize it. This one reason alone is why JMG is so good for us. Thank you

        • Aww– I need to go blush now, lol

          • Ray Taylor

            Really great that you share with us your history. I would like to know more of the story this picture brings. You could write an entire book about it. Thank you.

          • This photo was on display in the Tribal Council building, so anyone walking in to do tribal business would see it. I have no idea of how many non-Natives would see it and not make the connection that it was recognizing two respected couples.

          • Robinjanderson

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      • gaymex1

        Absolutely fascinating Ty Nolan. Thank you for that. I always wanted to find out more about my American Indian heritage and you writing about your own hertage has given me the push I needed to explore further. So far, only handed down family stories. Who knows how accurate they are?
        Aunt Jack…I love it.
        Again, thanks.

      • NancyP

        THank you for your comments, and for sharing your story, including the family photos.

    • David Walker

      Wow. Just wow. I always like it when I leave here having learned something. This, however, is phenomenal. Thank you SO much for sharing this, for taking the time to write this. And the photos…photos can be “worth a thousand words,” too. I’m stunned, actually, and grateful. Thank you again, Ty.

      • Jerry Kott

        I agree

      • Thank you. You know, I’ve lost almost all the people in these photos and it warms my heart to have been using some of them for #TBT on Facebook, bringing up so many memories. As we say back home, the Singer is silenced, but the song goes on. I’m also struck by the fact the older I get, the more I look like my Aunt Prunie (her formal name was Puenella. My Aunt Bean’s formal name was Verbena. I’m not sure how my grandparents picked those names. My mom was the oldest and was named Bernice.

      • Christian1234567

        If you are interested in learning more about boarding schools, colonization and the effects on various tribes, etc., I can give you some great book titles.

        • David Walker

          Thanks, but I’m about to tackle Shirer’s epic “The Rise And Fall…”, so I’ll be pretty much devoted to that until the end of the year (due date). However, I live near a town that had an Indian school, Carlisle Indian School, and I’ve read some of their history. As an aside, Carlisle this past week passed its own LGBTQ non-discrimination law. Since Pennsylvania can’t bring itself to do it, cities and counties have to do it. I think Carlisle brings the total to 37 now.

          • Christian1234567

            I used to live near Lancaster county. I am so glad to hear that some cities and counties in PA are passing NDOs. Congrats to Carlisle for passing one!
            The abuses that occurred at the Carlisle school break my heart.

    • Jerry Kott

      Ty – thank you very much for sharing your living history. Your story should be told over and over because it is important to read first hand accounts of Human Struggle .
      When I was a young Gayling, it was suggested by a Shaman I knew to read Joseph Campbell’s work to get a perspective of where we were, who we are and how we got here as Human Beings. What was very important in my self acceptance as a Gay man was reading Campbell’s accounts of how Indigenous Cultures all over the world had a place at their table for LGBT folks. We were always never considered outcast but it was believed that our Twin Spirit gave us a gift with a perspective valued by the tribe. Our point of view had value. It helped me find my place and take my stand.

      • One day, another person on staff at our clinic asked if i’d go with her to pick up a speaker at the Seattle Airport. “I haven’t heard of him–some guy named Joseph Campbell.” i was thrilled, since i had quoted him a lot in grad school. This was pre-9/11, when you could meet passengetrs as soon as they got off the plane. He looked just like the photo on the back of his books. I told him how much I appreciated his work and gifted him a beaded eagle feather in gratitude.

        “This means more to me than so many other awards. Do you know why I got involved in mythology? When I was a boy, all I wanted to do when I grew up was to be an Indian. When I was around 9 or 10, my parents took me aside and explained I’d never be an Indian. But it was my love for American Indian culture that led me to reading about legends and stories from around the world.”

        We stayed in touch until he passed away. A very dear man.

        • bzrd

          His wife, Jean Erdman is living in Hawaii and will be 101 Feb. 20

          • She was with him in Seattle–lovely woman. She was a dancer and i had invited them to the Winter Spirit Dancing. The Winter Spirit Dances are done by the Salish, as they channel their guardian spirits while they dance, a shamanistic tradition that as you might expect, interested both of them.

            They were planning on coming, but he ended up writing back he was concerned about his health and wanted to focus on completing his magnum opus, so they never made it.

          • bzrd

            Her meeting Campbell in college helped her interest in the dance cultures of the world and gave her insight into their meaning. What a life they shared. So happy you knew them both.

        • Ninja0980

          Ty for sharing your history and perspective on this.
          Enlightening for all of us.

        • Jerry Kott

          WOW, what a blessing. I , as an artist, have had a cosmic attraction to Native American Art and Culture. I found the way Indigenous cultures expressed their truth in how they designed the objects they used in everyday life were part of their being, fascinating. I always felt we may have smoked the same weed at some time.
          We can all learn things about our Universe when we see how other’s have structured their’s
          I sincerely appreciate your contribution here. Thank you.

        • McSwagg

          My introduction to Joseph Campbell was his PBS series with Bill Moyers, The power of Myth. It made me a life long fan of both men. Thanks for the stories.

    • karmanot

      Bravo Sir, bravo…..excellent piece of writing and history!

    • EweTaw

      Excellent post. In the mountain west the Mormon Church has its claws deep into the psyche of the Navajo Nation, the Ute, Piute, Goshute and Shoshone tribes. The spiel of bullshit they feed young Native Americans is disgusting. For almost a century Utah State government sponsored what was known as “The Indian School” north of Brigham City, Ut, where children were taken from their native american families and forced to acclimatize to white values and beliefs. Fortunately, that school is now just a collection of crumbling buildings. But the harm that was forced on those tribes and their children is incalculable.

      • sadly true…

      • UrsusArctos

        Earlier and further south many of the Cherokee, Choctaw, and Creek peoples who remained/avoided relocations ethnic cleansing married into frontier (read as low end white) and later black families. At those points the Xian overrun of tradition was a matter of survival. Among my folk and the people around them this meant hard-shell Baptist, Hellfire Methodist, and later Pentecostalism and abandoning all old ways that attracted attention. Families that are more racially mixed often went AME. All of the above focused on eradicating “heathen” practice. So, yeah, the fragmented bands across the southeast are in many ways off as church ridden as the people in the Mormon West and Plains.

        • EweTaw

          It’s a major cultural tragedy. In my opinion much worse than Catholic priests burning all of the Mayan codexes. The loss in cultural history, human lives and dignity is impossible to know.

      • McSwagg

        That school needs to be preserved as a historical museum and monument in the same way that the Nazi Death Camps are preserved as a reminder of things NOT to repeat in the future. As such, it could serve an historical explanatory role and a healing role.

        • EweTaw

          Last time I drove to Logan, Ut, I remember passing by the place and seeing it all boarded up. It has always been surrounded by heavy electrified fencing. It also has always looked like a prison more than a school.

          • McSwagg

            I kind of figured it would look like that, hence my comparison to the prison camps. It is part of a sad and troubling history that needs to be remembered so that we don’t repeat it.

    • Christian1234567

      Have you read the books When did Indians Become Straight or Spaces Between Us?
      Thank you for what you wrote and for sharing the photos!

    • CharlestonDave

      Thank you for writing this, Ty. You have educated me greatly.

    • the mutt

      Nope, you’re not the only one. I’m a proud member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, so this news is a wonderful step in the right direction!

    • Ben in Oakland

      I used to know a young Navajo man who was also Mormon and gay. He was terribly screwed up, but a nice guy. It wasn’t the Mormon screwing him up, but the Navajo Mormon combination, as he told it to me.

    • Ben in Oakland

      Every place Christianity has gone and sunk it’s fangs into other cultures, the gay has been eradicated as much as they could. The comrade loves of the samurai, the love of the cut sleeve,the two spirits of the Indians,the mahu and ‘aikane of the Hawaiians and other Polynesians.the list goes on and on,

  • EweTaw

    Any members of the Cherokee tribe(s) looking for a LTR with a “mature” male who still has most of his hair, isn’t fugly, and likes to travel?

  • TrollopeReader

    O/T ,… accd’g to msnbc / andrea mitchell …XOM ceo will be sec’y of state, with …..bolton as deputy.

  • Mike Knife

    Two Spirits

  • Uniteri Januti

    My Grandmother was Seminole on my Mother’s side and Grandfather Haitian Jew on my Father’s side. Many Native Americans held the Two-Spirit (Male and Female) in one person belief and tolerance. It was believed that Two-Spirit Persons were supremely gifted. As my Mother used to say, “sometimes it does not hurt to be able to see what’s growing in both gardens.”

  • rednekokie

    Wonderful! Just reassures my belief that all Oklahomans are not insanely homophobic – or any other kind of phobic. Just the loud-mouthed ones.

  • BeaverTales

    Christianity has done more damage to the Cherokee nation than centuries of gay marriage ever did.