General > Member Introductions

Hello I am pantspants and I am recovering from ignorance

(1/2) > >>

pantspants:
Hi everybody. For the time being, I am hesitant to disclose my name, for privacy reasons, so I chose the name pantspants. Someone many years ago started calling me pants as a pet name (the only person to have done so), and I later found out this term is British slang for "everything is terrible", so, might as well double-down. I don't know why.

My lineage on my father's side is Scandinavian and Scottish, on my mother's side is half-mystery (continuing working on this still, for over ten years now) and half-Slavic. I was raised in violence, and I experienced a lot more when I escaped home.

I grew up in central Alberta, and left on my own to live away from all my biological relatives on the west coast, where it turns out, I moved right back to where my mother and her father's family all grew up.

I am queer, my gender is non-normative, and the past nine years for me, becoming more and more involved in surrounding indigenous communities, looking for a way to give an extra set of hands to some of the labour, sitting with elders (some of whom are no longer with us now) and listening to them, picking up bits and pieces of languages and learning songs, oral histories, and hearing personal accounts of residential schools directly from the people who survived them, there's been a lot going on, and not all of it has been truthful or honest. I spend a lot of time searching for the truth, and untangling myself out of having been misled.

I found this board several years ago (probably 2015) while attempting to obsessively research the background of someone who very seriously exploited my ignorance about indigenous cultural practices, and found a lot of interesting food for thought left by a lot of people who have clearly done a great deal of research in other areas of the country that I've never had the means to set foot in. Unfortunately, the thread concerned with the individual I was looking for does exist, but it's 14 years old already, and no one at the time appeared to know enough about who this person was. Boy, what I wouldn't have given to know, in 2013 when I first met her, what I know now.

In the years I've been quietly lurking, I've also been becoming more and more involved in fostering responsible kinships with the communities in which I live. As a result, I've also uncovered a whole list of people whose names surprisingly are not listed even as suspected frauds.

I don't want to go into all-out info-dumping straight off the top. I'm open to receiving feedback about whether or not there is a meaningful distinction between sharing information about someone who is a textbook ethnic fraud harming people and misrepresenting the culture, and people who simply know better but still go around claiming to be native but aren't doing so for any apparent profit-driven motives.

I spent literally hours sifting through posts yesterday and reading many of them, and have some information to fill in gaps on some existing suspected frauds, as well as people who are ethnically legit but culturally sideways -- however, some of those threads are years backdated now, and I'm not sure how much needs to be said any more?

I am also, it seems, very probably still proximal to some hot messes. People pretending to be indigenous and successfully publishing themselves as journalists, repeatedly repeating revisionist histories no one else would verify, passed down to them by a single individual whose identity they didn't even understand. People pretending to be indigenous and claiming to be two-spirited or heyoka. People who make claims of being a descendant of someone very highly revered in the indigenous community, but who never had children. People who actually are indigenous but who are conflating, misrepresenting, or confusing teachings about... everything. I even remember someone who was passing out business cards claiming to be a two-spirited Cree elder, giving anti-oppression workshops. We host a lot of these types here in the lower mainland in BC.

Before I say too much, I just want to express that I'm here to share information, standing in my integrity as I do, and to learn what I can to better protect myself, if and when need be, in the future.

This feels like I said a lot... Thank you for your time.

pantspants:
I can only speak for what I've been told, which comes from someone who was at the conference. She told me it was intended as a placeholder until such a time as the original language could be rediscovered by the people returning to their communities to find their places within them.

The whole "we are two-spirit because we have a male spirit and a female spirit" is just bogus pan-Indianism (I would definitely agree this comes from white anthros), and even before I heard any better, it always struck me as disingenuous and revisionist.

I have since learned that there are communities where at least some of the original language and teachings around people on the LGBTQ spectrum exist, and I admit to having more curiosity about that (for instance, the Lakota-Dakota-Nakoda). In the communities I live in (Coastal Salish), the teachings still exist but the language around these identities has disappeared for the time being.

Being that I'm a white person, this isn't so much a search for loopholes for me to jump into with both feet (what I see most white people chomping at the bit to do), but cultivating my understanding so that I am better prepared to have these sensitive conversations if and when necessary, but with compassion for the other person. I spend a lot of my social time in the indigenous communities whose territories I live in, who are also host to displaced indigenous folks from all across the continent.

Understandings about what I even am as a queer person in these communities within communities varies from person to person, and understanding of how transferable the indigenous teachings about LGBTQs are to me as a white person is also highly variable. I tend to err on the side of learning as much as I can so I don't reinforce bad ideas and false teachings.

I'm also never certain I have the right information or good teachings, so if I'm out of line speaking up about this, I apologize.

Diana:
In the communities I live in (Coastal Salish), the teachings still exist but the language around these identities has disappeared for the time being.

Pants, being a white person how would you know about the languages of the Coastal Salish? And specifically language describing LGBTQ Indigenous people. Just curious.

I spend a lot of my social time in the indigenous communities whose territories I live in, who are also host to displaced indigenous folks from all across the continent.


Wow! The Tribes (Coastal Salish) in Washington State let "displaced Indigenous folks" from all over the country come live with them? Am I understanding you right?

May I ask what communities you live in? I'm very familiar with the Tribes and have many friends there. If you want you can pm me.

Lim lemtsh,

Diana

pantspants:
I understand, as much as I am able to from where I sit, what you are telling me. I don't intend to come across as minimizing or ignoring any of it. It's serious. I take it very seriously.

I am not the type to interrupt someone in the middle of telling a story that important, to start asking questions about who else was there, so unfortunately, I can't answer that question. I don't know the answer. I am merely relating what was told to me that, for once in my life, did not sound like some hoakey, revisionist, romanticized, pan-Indian clap-trap like I might have found in the first books I read about native people when I was a kid (thanks for that, Scholastic book fair). She also told me, the reason the term was adopted at that conference, has to do with an important distinction between indigenous LGBTQs (of whom she is one) and settler LGBTQs -- that my people are fighting for rights we've never had, whereas indigenous LGBTQs are fighting for the return of rights they already had before. No one who has ever spoken with me about what "two-spirit" means has ever made a point of saying that.

As for resisting the assimilation and melting together of hundreds of vastly different cultures, for my part in that resistance, this is why I keep satellite dish ears open listening for the teachings when they do come out. Occasionally I actually have the kinds of relationships with local indigenous folks of a wide variety of ethnicities and cultures, where I can ask important questions. Unfortunately, even in most of them, there are often very strongly misleading ideas about LGBTQs as, for example, innate healers, heyokas, or having the innate right to cross or violate gender boundaries at our whim and fancy or as we see fit to do so. I generally resist blindly accepting every single thing I'm told about "two-spirits". I remain conscious at all times that some of these folks don't have language other than "two-spirit" to try to convey to me, how they feel about how I, as a white queer person, might fit into their cultural paradigm. And I definitely resist the urge to try to correct them about whether or not I even have a right to think of or refer to myself as "two-spirit".

I'd be more than happy to pick up credible literature on the subject of indigenous LGBTQ history, but so far, I haven't heard of any such literature existing specifically about LGBTQs in the period prior to contact or during the early contact period (which I'm sure we can both agree, is a completely different point in time depending on where you're referring to). In some communities, such as the one in which I am most invested, only oral teachings exist. The language does not. People in the community generally know LGBTQs exist, but they can't talk about it in a historical context, because they don't have the words for it. Sometimes they can't even really talk about it in the present context, because they have complex barriers about that (which no reasonable person would try to take away from them). This is all largely because of how complex and devastating European contact was by the time it formally arrived here and changed everything (in the very late 1700s).

As for what I've heard before that one person who seemed to be telling me the truth for the first time, I've sat in a lecture (on invitation) where someone claiming to be native (little did I know at the time, she most certainly is not) told a version of this history that sounds like a white person trying to whitesplain it to a room full of indigenous folks--except the room was full of non-indigenous folks trying earnestly to learn about indigenous culture in an academic environment. This same individual spreads disparaging information about people known as winkte (if you believed what she says, you would form the mental picture that is conveyed by the use of the French slur). She convinces white people of all sexualities and genders to call themselves two-spirited and tries to recruit them to being fully convinced that they are "metis" or some other indigenous identity by virtue of a family myth of a long-ago indigenous ancestor -- to what end, I know not.

This is about where the local "radical" faeries enter from stage left. They pick up all these fictitious stories and run wild with them. They consequently rub shoulders with members of the local queer community who are indigenous (mostly through the drag scene), who then pick up this example and drape themselves in it. White queers who don't know even half as well as I at least hope I do, observing from the audience at these drag shows or from simply being a background figure in the life of these local indigenous folks, then think they've learned something about the culture and about themselves as LGBTQs.

I'm sure you could see why, even though I am a white person, I perceive a problem with this, despite it not effecting me either directly or personally. When my white queer relatives (I say relatives, but not kin, and I don't mean biologically, but culturally) enter indigenous spaces like sweat communities, they make *sses of themselves, anticipating or even expecting exceptional treatment because of their LGBTQ identity when they arrive. When they don't get it, or even worse, someone is just honest with them, they turn to people like the woman where I saw all this ideology entering the perpetual feedback loop for the "radical faeries" to pick it up and run with it.

She then manages to come off as an enormously credible "indigenous" person, because she's just telling these white queer folks the same horse pocky people have been repeating for decades without knowing where it comes from, and they in turn vouch for her to be more present in and representative of the indigenous community, where their good intentions are trying to magically turn into inclusivity. They have no idea what harm they're doing or how much of their *sses they're showing. I've tried to get through to them, to no avail. She could know them for a tenth of the time they've known me, and somehow she's still more credible, because I'm telling them something they don't want to hear that no one else they interact with validates.

Then I have folks like someone I've met on the other side of cutting myself out of that mess, who is full-blood Dakota, who casually told me in the middle of an unrelated conversation that I am winkte. And while I appreciate what he's trying to say, it wouldn't even be fitting or appropriate if I were Dakota. I am not even remotely feminine-identifying.

I'm trying not to change the subject, avoid engaging with what you're telling me, whitesplain anything, or contradict you, and I'm sorry if for all the efforts I'm making, I've somehow managed to fail in one or more (or even all) of these areas. I'm really just trying to say, the so-called radical faeries aren't just coming up with all of this alone. But they are certainly comfortable with putting it on and stripping it off when it suits them to do so.

I don't know what the solution looks like, except learning as much of the history as possible, and trying to do better (including steering my own people--and myself--away from the misleading stereotypes, and the harm they cause, whenever possible).

I also make great pains to be specific when I do have these conversations. I hope I haven't made a regrettable post here. There's a lot going on all at once.

pantspants:

--- Quote from: Diana on May 23, 2021, 05:05:52 am ---In the communities I live in (Coastal Salish), the teachings still exist but the language around these identities has disappeared for the time being.

Pants, being a white person how would you know about the languages of the Coastal Salish? And specifically language describing LGBTQ Indigenous people. Just curious.
--- End quote ---

From sitting and listening to some of the elders in the community who grew up hearing the language, still speak some of it, hold onto some of the history (particularly of migration among nations of the same language family to replenish some of the lost population after the beginning of European contact), and who also talk to me about growing up with queer family and friends, raising queer kids, and then meeting me, and watching how people respond to my presence in the community. Some of those relationships happened very quickly, some of them took years before those teachings came out.


--- Quote ---I spend a lot of my social time in the indigenous communities whose territories I live in, who are also host to displaced indigenous folks from all across the continent.


Wow! The Tribes (Coastal Salish) in Washington State let "displaced Indigenous folks" from all over the country come live with them? Am I understanding you right?
--- End quote ---

I wouldn't describe the process of all the displaced indigenous folks from all over the country coming and building entire adjacent indigenous communities here as "the Coast Salish let them". There's a long and complicated history going on there, and much of it can't be attributed to choice on the part of the xwulmuxw mustimuxw here in the lower mainland of BC (Canada side). Some of the relations of the stateside Coastal Salish were displaced up here, to parts of Vancouver Island. I don't want to say too much more, because it's going to be an extremely sensitive and delicate conversation beyond saying this much about it. If you know about what happened stateside to the Coastal Salish tribes, you know enough to have an idea of what happened here, too. It's ugly, it's extremely violent, and the role of the occupying settlers (among whom I and my relatives before me are counted) in what took place here is nothing short of heinous. Most non-indigenous folks round here don't know even the first thing about it.

Beyond that, I think it might be best to share privately. You never know who's reading, and how upsetting it might be to be spontaneously confronted with that kind of information (let alone by a white person).

Navigation

[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version