The limited-but-sturdy evidence provided by historians that Bronski draws on suggests homosexuality was treated matter-of-factly among most Native American tribes. In the records of the Lewis and Clark expeditions, Nicholas Biddle observes: "Among the Mamitarees, if a boy shows any symptoms of effeminacy or...
Best answer: The limited-but-sturdy evidence provided by historians that Bronski draws on suggests homosexuality was treated matter-of-factly among most Native American tribes. In the records of the Lewis and Clark expeditions, Nicholas Biddle observes: "Among the Mamitarees, if a boy shows any symptoms of effeminacy or girlish inclinations he is put among the girls, dressed in their way, brought up with them, and sometimes married to men."
Among the Crow tribe, a horrified white observer wrote, "men who dressed as women and specialised in women's work were accepted and sometimes honoured; a woman who led men in battle and had four wives was a respected chief". This shouldn't be entirely romanticised. One tribe "accepted" homosexuality by raising young men to be "passives", available as "sexual resources" to the tribe, which sounds uncomfortably close to rape. But in most places, different sexualities were granted room for expression, much of it consensual.
The Navajos have a rich, documented history of accepting and even honoring people that identified with different genders and sexual preferences.
In fact, as recently as 10 years ago, same-sex unions were recognized by the Navajos.
“We were recognizing same-sex unions between a man and a man and a woman and a woman long before white people came on to this land,” Alray Nelson, lead organizer at the Coalition for Navajo Equality, a local community group working to end the ban on gay marriage, told Fusion.
That changed in 2005, when, following the footsteps of the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act, the Navajo Nation introduced its own version, called the Diné Marriage Act.
The Navajo nation recognizes what are known as “tribal common-law marriages.” If a couple is cohabitating and “holding out to the public as being married” then the tribal government recognizes that couple as a married unit.
“Before the 2005 Diné Marriage Act, that was a law for everyone,” Nelson said.
Going back further, there are drawings, photographs, oral histories, and even language that advocates say is evidence LGBT Navajo tribe members were once accepted.
The Navajo language has at least one term for tribe members that don’t fit traditional heterosexual roles: nádleehí.
Don Pedro Fages was third in command of the 1769–70 Spanish Portolà expedition, the first European land exploration of what is now the U.S. state of California. At least three diaries were kept during the expedition, but Fages wrote his account later, in 1775. Fages gave more descriptive details about the native Californians than any of the others, and he alone reported the presence of homosexuality in the native culture. The English translation reads:
I have submitted substantial evidence that those Indian men who, both here and farther inland, are observed in the dress, clothing and character of women – there being two or three such in each village – pass as sodomites by profession.... They are called joyas, and are held in great esteem.
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