The Berdache Tradition, WL Williams

Tags: Western culture, berdache tradition, sacred person, vision quest, women and men, American Museum of Natural History, North America, Oglala Religion, University of California Publications, Dial Press, Theodore Stern, Early Western Travels, Pueblo Indian Religion, American Anthropological Association, Columbia University Press, C. Daryll Forde, Francis La Flesche, The Pollen Path, Dennis Tedlock, Ibid., University of Washington Press, New York, William Powers, University of California Press, pp, Reuben Gold Thwaites, University of Chicago Press, Native American culture, American Indians, Native American, Native American religions, married women, Alfred Kroeber, Ethnographer Ruth Underhill, desires of the heart, sex roles, gender role, biological sex, Elsie Clews Parsons, University of Nebraska Press, Stanford University Press, spiritual guidance, Western Judeo-Christian tradition, Indian societies, social patterns, Ruth Underhill
The Berdache Tradition Walter L. Willams Because it is such a powerful force in the world today, the Western Judeo-Christian tradition is often accepted as the arbiter of "natural" behavior of humans. If Europeans and their descendant nations of North America accept something as normal, then anything different is seen as abnormal. Such a view ignores the great diversity of human existence. This is the case for the study of gender. How many genders are there? To a modern AngloAmerican, nothing might seem more definite than the answer that there are two: men and women. But not all societies around the world agree with Western culture's view that all humans are either women or men. The commonly accepted notion of "the opposite sex," based on anatomy, is itself an artifact of our society's rigid sex roles. Among many cultures, there have existed different alternatives to "man" or "woman." An alternative role in many American Indian societies is referred to by anthropologists as berdache . . . . The role varied from one Native American culture to another, which is a reflection of the vast diversity of aboriginal New World societies. Small bands of hunter-gatherers existed in some areas, with advanced civilizations of farming peoples in other areas. With hundreds of different languages, economies, religions, and social patterns existing in North America alone, every generalization about a cultural tradition must acknowledge many exceptions. This diversity is true for the berdache tradition as well, and must be kept in mind. My statements
should be read as being specific to a particular culture, with generalizations being treated as loose patterns that might not apply to peoples even in nearby areas. Briefly, a berdache can be defined as a morphological male who does not fill a society's standard man's role, who has a nonmasculine character. This type of person is often stereotyped as effeminate, but a more accurate characterization is androgyny. Such a person has a clearly recognized and accepted social status, often based on a secure place in the tribal mythology. Berdaches have special ceremonial roles in many Native American religions, and important economic roles in their families. They will do at least some women's work, and mix together much of the behavior, dress, and social roles of women and men. Berdaches gain social prestige by their spiritual, intellectual, or craftwork/artistic contributions, and by their reputation for hard work and generosity. They serve a mediating function between women and men, precisely because their character is seen as distinct from either sex. They are not seen as men, yet they are not seen as women either. They occupy an alternative gender role that is a mixture of diverse elements. In their erotic behavior berdaches also generally (but not always) take a nonmasculine role, either being asexual or becoming the passive partner in sex with men. In some cultures the berdache might become a wife to a man. This male-male sexual behavior became the focus of an attack on berdaches as "sodomites" by the Europeans who, early on, came into contact with them. From the first Spanish conquistadors to the Western frontiersmen and the Christian missionaries and government officials, Western culture has had a considerable impact on the berdache tradition. In the last two decades, the most recent impact on the tradition is the adaptation of a modern Western gay identity. To Western eyes berdachism is a complex and puzzling phenomenon, mixing and redefining the very concepts of what is considered male and female. In a culture with only two recognized genders, such individuals are gender nonconformist, abnormal, deviant. But to American Indians,
the institution of another gender role means that berdaches are not deviant-indeed, they do conform to the requirements of a custom in which their culture tells them they fit. Berdachism is a way for society to recognize and assimilate some atypical individuals without imposing a change on them or stigmatizing them as deviant. This cultural institution confirms their legitimacy for what they are. Societies often bestow power upon that which does not neatly fit into the usual. Since no cultural system can explain everything, a common way that many cultures deal with these inconsistencies is to imbue them with negative power, as taboo, pollution, witchcraft, or sin. That which is not understood is seen as a threat. But an alternative method of dealing with such things, or people, is to take them out of the realm of threat and to sanctify them.' The berdaches' role as mediator is thus not just between women and men, but also between the physical and the spiritual. American Indian cultures have taken what Western culture calls negative, and made it a positive; they have successfully utilized the different skills and insights of a class of people that Western culture has stigmatized and whose spiritual powers have been wasted. Many Native Americans also understood that gender roles have to do with more than just biological sex. The standard Western view that one's sex is always a certainty, and that one's gender identity and sex role always conform to one's morphological sex is a view that dies hard. Western thought is typified by such dichotomies of groups perceived to be mutually exclusive: male and female, black and white, right and wrong, good and evil. Clearly, the world is not so simple; such clear divisions are not always realistic. Most American Indian worldviews generally are much more accepting of the ambiguities of life. Acceptance of gender variation in the berdache tradition is typical of many native cultures' approach to life in general. Overall, these are generalizations based on those Native American societies that had an accepted role for berdaches. Not all cultures recognized
such a respected status. Berdachism in aboriginal North America was most established among tribes in four areas: first, the Prairie and western Great Lakes, the northern and central Great Plains, and the lower Mississippi Valley; second, Florida and the Caribbean; third, the Southwest, the Great Basin, and California; and fourth, scattered areas of the Northwest, western Canada, and Alaska. For some reason it is not noticeable in eastern North America, with the exception of its southern rim . . . . AMERICAN INDIAN RELIGIONS Native American religions offered an explanation for human diversity by their creation stories. In some tribal religions, the Great Spiritual Being is conceived as neither male nor female but as a combination of both. Among the Kamia of the Southwest, for example, the bearer of plant seeds and the introducer of Kamia culture was a man-, woman spirit named Warharmi.2 A key episode of the Zuni creation story involves a battle between the kachina spirits of the agricultural Zunis and the enemy hunter spirits. Every four years an elaborate ceremony commemorates this myth. In the story a kachina spirit called ko'lhamana was captured by the enemy spirits and transformed in the process. This transformed spirit became a mediator between the two sides, using his peacemaking skills to merge the differing lifestyles of hunters and farmers. In the ceremony, a dramatic reenactment of the myth, the part of the transformed ko'lhanaana spirit, is performed by a berdache.3 The Zuni word for berdache is lhamana, denoting its closeness to the spiritual mediator who brought hunting and farming together. The moral of this story is that the berdache was created by the deities for a special purpose, and that this creation led to the improvement of society. The continual reenactment of this story provides a justification for the Zuni berdache in each generation. In contrast to this, the lack of spiritual justification in a creation myth could denote a lack of tolerance for gender variation. The Pimas, unlike
most of their Southwestern neighbors, did not respect a berdache status. Wi-kovat, their derogatory word, means "like a girl," but it does not signify a recognized social role. Pima mythology reflects this lack of acceptance, in a folk tale that explains male androgyny as due to Papago witchcraft. Knowing that the Papagos respected berdaches, the Pimas blamed such an occurrence on an alien influence .5 While the Pimas' condemnatory attitude i s unusual, it does point out the importance of spiritual explanations for the acceptance of gender variance in a culture. Other Native American creation stories stand in sharp contrast to the Pima explanation. A good example is the account of the Navajos, which presents women and men as equals. The Navajo origin tale is told as a story of five worlds. The first people were First Man and First Woman, who were created equally and at the same time. The first two worlds that they lived in were bleak and unhappy, so they escaped to the Third World. In the third world lived two twins, Turquoise Boy and White Shell Girl, who were the first berdaches. In the Navajo language the word for berdache is nadle, which means "changing one" or "one who is transformed." It is applied to hermaphrodites-those who are born with the genitals of both male and female-and also to "those who pretend to be nadle," who take on a social role that is distinct from either men or women. In the third world, First Man and First Woman began farming, with the help of the changing twins. One of the twins noticed some clay and, holding it in the palm of his/her hand, shaped it into the first pottery bowl. Then he/she formed a plate, a water dipper, and a pipe. The second twin observed some reeds and began to weave them, making the first basket. Together they shaped axes and grinding stones from rocks, and hoes from bone. All these new inventions made the people very happy.? The message of this story is that humans are dependent for many good things on the inventiveness of nadle. Such individuals were present from the earliest eras of. human existence, and their presence was never questioned. They were part of
the natural order of the universe, with a special contribution to make. Later on in the Navajo creation story, White Shell Girl entered the moon and became the Moon Bearer. Turquoise Boy, however, remained with the people. When First Man realized that Turquoise Boy could do all manner of women's work as well as women, all the men left the women and crossed a big river. The men hunted and planted crops. Turquoise Boy ground the corn, cooked the food, and weaved cloth for the men. Four years passed with the women and men separated, and the men were happy with the nadle. Later, however, the women wanted to learn how to grind corn from the nadle, and both the men and the women had decided that it was not good to continue living separately. So the women crossed the river and the people were reunited.8 They continued living happily in the third world, until one day a great flood began. The people ran to the highest mountaintop, but the water kept rising and they all feared they would be drowned. But just in time, the ever-inventive Turquoise Boy found a large reed. They climbed upward inside the tall hollow reed, and came out at the top into the fourth world. From there, White Shell Girl brought another reed, and they climbed again to the fifth world, which is the present world of the Navajos.9 These stories suggest that the very survival of humanity is dependent on the inventiveness of berdaches. With such a mythological belief system, it is no wonder that the Navajos held nadle in high regard. The concept of the nadle is well formulated in the creation story. As children were educated by these stories, and all Navajos believed in them, the high status accorded to gender variation was passed down from generation to generation. Such stories also provided instructions for nadle themselves to live by. A spiritual explanation guaranteed a special place for a person who was considered different but not deviant. For American Indians, the important explanations of the world are spiritual ones. In their view, there is a deeper reality than the here-and-now. The real essence or wisdom occurs when one
finally gives up trying to explain events in terms of "logic" and "reality." Many confusing aspects of existence can better be explained by actions of a multiplicity of spirits. Instead of a concept of a single god, there is an awareness of "that which we do not understand." In Lakota religion, for example, the term Wakan Tanka is often translated as "god." But a more proper translation, according to the medicine people who taught me, is "The Great Mystery."' ° While rationality can explain much, there are limits to human capabilities of understanding. The English language is structured to account for cause and effect. For example, English speakers say, "It is raining," with the implication that there is a cause "it" that leads to rain. Many Indian languages, on the other hand, merely note what is most accurately translated as "raining" as an observable fact. Such an approach brings a freedom to stop worrying about causes of things, and merely to relax and accept that our human insights can go only so far. By not taking ourselves too seriously, or overinflating human importance, we can get beyond the logical world. The emphasis of American Indian religions, then, is on the spiritual nature of all things. To understand the physical world, one must appreciate the underlying spiritual essence. Then one can begin to see that the physical is only a faint shadow, a partial reflection, of a supernatural and extrarational world. By the Indian view, everything that exists is spiritual. Every object-plants, rocks, water, air, the moon, animals, humans, the earth itself-has a spirit. The spirit of one thing (including a human) is not superior to the spirit of any other. Such a view promotes a sophisticated ecological awareness of the place that humans have in the larger environment. The function of religion is not to try to condemn or to change what exists, but to accept the realities of the world and to appreciate their contributions to life. Everything that exists has a purpose." One of the basic tenets of American Indian religion is the notion that everything in the universe is related. Nevertheless, things that exist are often seen as having a counterpart: sky and earth,
plant and animal, water and fire. In all of these polarities, there exist mediators. The role of the mediator is to hold the polarities together, to keep the world from disintegrating. Polarities exist within human society also. The most important category within Indian society is gender. The notions of Woman and Man underlie much of social interaction and are comparable to the other major polarities. Women, with their nurturant qualities, are associated with the earth, while men are associated with the sky. Women gatherers and farmers deal with plants (of the earth), while men hunters deal with animals. The mediator between the polarities of woman and man, in the American Indian religious explanation, is a being that combines the elements of both genders. This might be a combination in a physical sense, as in the case of hermaphrodites. Many Native American religions accept this phenomenon in the same way that they accept other variations from the norm. But more important is their acceptance of the idea that gender can be combined in ways other than physical hermaphroditism. The physical aspects of a thing or a person, after all, are not nearly as important as its spirit. American Indians use the concept of a person's spirit in the way that other Americans use the concept of a person's character. Consequently, physical hermaphroditism is not necessary for the idea of gender mixing. A person's character, their spiritual essence, is the crucial thing. THE BERDACHE'S SPIRIT Individuals who are physically normal might have the spirit of the other sex, might range somewhere between the two sexes, or might have a spirit that is distinct from either women or men. Whatever category they fall into, they are seen as being different from men. They are accepted spiritually as "Not Man." Whichever option is chosen, Indian religions offer spiritual explanations. Among the Arapahos of the Plains, berdaches are called haxu'xan and are seen to be that way as a result of a supernatural gift from birds or animals.
Arapaho mythology recounts the story of Nih'a'ca, the first haxu'xan. He pretended to be a woman and married the mountain lion, a symbol for masculinity. The myth, as recorded by ethnographer Alfred Kroeber about 1900, recounted that "These people had the natural desire to become women, and as they grew up gradually became women. They gave up the desires of men. They were married to men. They had miraculous power and could do supernatural things. For instance, it was one of them that first made an intoxicant from rainwater."' 2 Besides the theme of inventiveness, similar to the Navajo creation story, the berdache role is seen as a product of a "natural desire." Berdaches "gradually became women," which underscores the notion of woman as a social category rather than as a fixed biological entity. Physical biological sex is less important in gender classification than a person's desire-one's spirit. The myths contain no prescriptions for trying to change berdaches who are acting out their desires of the heart. Like many other cultures' myths, the Zuni origin myths simply sanction the idea that gender can be transformed independently of biological sex. '3 Indeed, myths warn of dire consequences when interference with such a transformation is attempted. Prince Alexander Maximilian of the German state of Wied, traveling in the northern Plains in the 1830s, heard a myth about a warrior who once tried to force a berdache to avoid women's clothing. The berdache resisted, and the warrior shot him with an arrow. Immediately the berdache disappeared, and the warrior saw only a pile of stones with his arrow in them. Since then, the story concluded, no intelligent person would try to coerce a berdache. '4 Making the point even more directly, a Mandan myth told of an Indian who tried to force mihdacke (berdaches) to give up their distinctive dress and status, which led the spirits to punish many people with death. After that, no Mandans interfered with berdaches.15 With this kind of attitude, reinforced by myth and history, the aboriginal view accepts human diversity. The creation story of the Mohave of the
Colorado River Valley speaks of a time when people were not sexually differentiated. From this perspective, it is easy to accept that certain individuals might combine elements of masculinity and femininity. '6 A respected Mohave elder, speaking in the 1930s, stated this viewpoint simply: "From the very beginning of the world it was meant that there should be [berdaches], just as it was instituted that there should be shamans. They were intended for that purpose."'7 This elder also explained that a child's tendencies to become a berdache are apparent early, by about age nine to twelve, before the child reaches puberty: "That is the time when young persons become initiated into the functions of their sex . . . . None but young people will become berdaches as a rule."'s Many tribes have a public ceremony that acknowledges the acceptance of berdache status. A Mohave shaman related the ceremony for his tribe: "When the child was about ten years old his relatives would begin discussing his strange ways. Some of them disliked it, but the more intelligent began envisaging an initiation ceremony." The relatives prepare for the ceremony without letting the boy know of it. It is meant to take him by surprise, to be both an initiation and a test of his true inclinations. People from various settlements are invited to attend. The family wants the community to see it and become accustomed to accepting the boy as an alyha. On the day of the ceremony, the shaman explained, the boy is led into a circle: "If the boy showed a willingness to remain standing in the circle, exposed to the public eye, it was almost certain that he would go through with the ceremony. The singer, hidden behind the crowd, began singing the songs. As soon as the sound reached the boy he began to dance as women do." If the boy is unwilling to assume alyha status, he would refuse to dance. But if his character-his spirit-is alyha, "the song goes right to his heart and he will dance with much intensity. He cannot help it. After the fourth song he is proclaimed." After the ceremony, the boy is carefully bathed and receives a woman's skirt. He is then led back
to the dance ground, dressed as an alyha, and announces his new feminine name to the crowd. After that he would resent being called by his old male name. 19 Among the Yuman tribes of the Southwest, the transformation is marked by a social gathering, in which the berdache prepares a meal for the friends of the family. Ethnographer Ruth Underhill, doing fieldwork among the Papago Indians in the early 1930s, wrote that berdaches were common among the Papago Indians, and were usually publicly acknowledged in childhood. She recounted that a boy's parents would test him if they noticed that he preferred female pursuits. The regular pattern, mentioned by many of Underhill's Papago informants, was to build a small brush enclosure. Inside the enclosure they placed a man's bow and arrows, and also a woman's basket. At the appointed time the boy was brought to the enclosure as the adults watched from outside. The boy was told to go inside the circle of brush. Once he was inside, the adults "set fire to the enclosure. They watched what he took with him as he ran out and if it was the basketry materials, they reconciled themselves to his being a berdache." 2` What is important to recognize in all of these practices is that the assumption of a berdache role was not forced on the boy by others. While adults might have their suspicions, it was only when the child made the proper move that he was considered a berdache. By doing woman's dancing, preparing a meal, or taking the woman's basket he was making an important symbolic gesture. Indian children were not stupid, and? they knew the implications of these ceremonies beforehand. A boy in the enclosure could have left without taking anything, or could have taken both the man's and the woman's tools. With the community standing by watching, he was well aware that his choice would mark his assumption of berdache status. Rather than being seen as an involuntary test of his reflexes, this ceremony may be interpreted as a definite statement by the child to take on the berdache role. Indians do not see the assumption of berdache status, however, as a free will choice on the part
of the boy. People felt that the boy was acting out his basic character. The Lakota shaman Lame Deer explained: They were not like other men, but the Great Spirit made them winktes and we accepted them as such . . . . We think that if a wo man has two little ones growing inside her, if she is going to have twins, sometimes instead of giving birth to two babies they have formed up in her womb into just one, into a half-man/half-woman kind of being . . . . To us a man is what nature, or his dreams, make him. We accept him for what he wants to be. That's up to him. While most of the sources indicate that once a person becomes a berdache it is a lifelong status, directions from the spirits determine everything. In at least one documented case, concerning a nineteenth-century Klamath berdache named Lele'ks, he later had a supernatural experience that led him to leave the berdache role. At that time Lele' ks began dressing and acting like a man, then married women, and eventually became one of the most famous Klamath chiefs. 3 What is important is that both in assuming berdache status and in leaving it, supernatural dictate is the determining factor. DREAMS AND VISIONS Many tribes see the berdache role as signifying an individual's proclivities as a dreamer and a visionary .... Among the northern Plains and related Great Lakes tribes, the idea of supernatural dictate through dreaming-the vision quest-had its highest development. The goal of the vision quest is to try to get beyond the rational world by sensory deprivation and fasting. By depriving one's body of nourishment, the brain could escape from logical thought and connect with the higher reality of the supernatural. The person doing the quest simply sits and waits for a vision. But a vision might not come easily; the person might have to wait for days. The best way that I can describe the process is to refer to my own vision quest, which I experienced
when I was living on a Lakota reservation in 1982. After a long series of prayers and blessings, the shaman who had prepared me for the ceremony took me out to an isolated area where a sweat lodge had been set up for my quest. As I walked to the spot, I worried that I might not be able to stand it. Would I be overcome by hunger? Could I tolerate the thirst? What would I do if I had to go to the toilet? The shaman told me not to worry, that a whole group of holy people would be praying and singing for me while I was on my quest. . He had me remove my clothes, symbolizing my disconnection from the material world, and crawl into the sweat lodge. Before he left me I asked him, "What do I think about?" He said, "Do not think. Just pray for spiritual guidance." After a prayer he closed the flap tightly and I was left in total darkness. I still do not understand what happened to me during my vision quest, but during the day and a half that I was out there, I never once felt hungry or thirsty or the need to go to the toilet. What happened was an intensely personal experience that I cannot and do not wish to explain, a process of being that cannot be described in rational terms. When the shaman came to get me at the end of my time, I actually resented having to end it. He did not need to ask if my vision quest were successful. He knew that it was even before seeing me, he explained, because he saw an eagle circling over me while I underwent the quest. He helped interpret the signs I had seen, then after more prayers and singing he led me back to the others. I felt relieved, cleansed, joyful, and serene. I had been through an experience that will be a part of my memories always. If a vision quest could have such an effect on a person not even raised in Indian society, imagine its impact on a boy who from his earliest years had been waiting for the day when he could seek his vision. Gaining his spiritual power from his first vision, it would tell him what role to take in adult life. The vision might instruct him that he is going to be a great hunter, a craftsman, a warrior, or a shaman. Or it might tell him that he will be a berdache. Among the Lakotas, or Sioux,
there are several symbols for various types of visions. A person becomes wakan (a sacred person) if she or he dreams of a bear, a wolf, thunder, a buffalo, a white buffalo calf, or Double Woman. Each dream results in a different gift, whether it is the power to cure illness or wounds, a promise of good hunting, or the exalted role of a heyoka (doing things backward). A white buffalo calf is believed to be a berdache. If a person has a dream of the sacred Double Woman, this means that she or he will have the power to seduce men. Males who have a vision of Double Woman are presented with female tools. Taking such tools means that the male will become a berdache. The Lakota word winkte is composed of win, "woman," and kte, "would become." 24 A contemporary Lakota berdache explains, "To become a winkte, you have a medicine man put you up on the hill, to search for your vision. You can become a winkte if you truly are by nature. You see a vision of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe. Sometimes it varies. A vision is like a scene in a movie."25 Another way to become a winkte is to have a vision given by a winkte from the past.26 . . . By interpreting the result of the vision as being the work of a spirit, the vision quest frees the person from feeling responsible for his transformation. The person might even claim that the change was done against his will and without his control. Such a claim does not suggest a negative attitude about berdache status, because it is common for people to claim reluctance to fulfill their spiritual duty no matter what vision appears to them. Becoming any kind of sacred person involves taking on various social responsibilities and burdens . . . . A story was told among the Lakotas in the 1880s of a boy who tried to resist following his vision from Double Woman. But according to Lakota informants "few men succeed in this effort after having taken the strap in the dream." Having rebelled against the instructions given him by the Moon Being, he committed suicide. 28 The moral of that story is that one should not resist spiritual guidance, because it will lead only to grief. In another case, an Omaha young man
told of being addressed by a spirit as "daughter," whereupon he discovered that he was unconsciously using feminine styles of speech. He tried to use male speech patterns, but could not. As a result of this vision, when he returned to his people he resolved himself to dress as a woman. Such stories function to justify personal peculiarities as due to a fate over which the individual has no control. Despite the usual pattern in Indian societies of using ridicule to enforce conformity, receiving instructions from a vision inhibits others from trying to change the berdache. Ritual explanation provides a way out. It also excuses the community from worrying about the cause of that person's difference, or the feeling that it is society's duty to try to change him. 30 Native American religions, above all else, encourage a basic respect for nature. If nature makes a person different, many Indians conclude, a mere human should not undertake to counter this spiritual dictate. Someone who is "unusual" can be accommodated without being stigmatized as "abnormal." Berdachism is thus not alien or threatening; it is a reflection of spirituality.
1. Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger (Baltimore:
Penguin, 1966), p. 52. I am grateful to Theda Perdue
for convincing me that Douglas's ideas apply to
berdachism. For an application of Douglas's thesis to
berdaches, see James Thayer, "The Berdache of the
Northern Plains: A Socioreligious Perspective,"
Journal of Anthropological Research
36 (1980): 292-93.
2. E. W. Gifford, "The Kamia of Imperial Valley,"
Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 97 (1931): 12.
3. By using present tense verbs in this text, I am not
implying that such activities are necessarily continuing
today. I sometimes use the present tense in the
"ethnographic present," unless I use the past tense
when I am referring to something that has not
continued. Past tense implies that all such practices
have disappeared. In the absence of fieldwork to prove such disappearance, I am not pre
pared to make that assumption, on the historic changes in the berdache tradition. 4. Elsie Clews Parsons, "The Zuni La' Mana," American Anthropologist 18 (1916): 521; Matilda Coxe Stevenson, "Zuni Indians," Bureau of American Ethnology Annual Report 23 (1903): 37, Franklin Gushing, "Zuni Creation Myths," Bureau of American Ethnology Annual Report 13 (1894): 401-3. Will Roscoe clarified this origin story for me. 5. W. W. Hill, "Note on the Pima Berdache," American Anthropologist 40 (1938): 339. 6. Aileen O'Bryan, "The Dine': Origin Myths of the Navaho Indians," Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 163 (1956): 5; W. W. Hill, "The Status of the Hermaphrodite and Transvestite in Navaho Culture," American Anthropologist 37 (1935): 273.
7. Martha S. Link, The Pollen Path: A Collection of
Navajo Myths (Stanford: Stanford University Press,
O'Bryan, "Dine'," pp. 5, 7, 9-10.
9. Ibid.
10. Lakota informants, July 1982. See also William
Powers, Oglala Religion (Lincoln: University of
Nebraska Press, 1977).
11. For this admittedly generalized overview of American
Indian religious values, I am indebted to traditionalist
informants of many tribes, but especially those of the
Lakotas. For a discussion of native religions see
Dennis Tedlock, Finding the Center (New York: Dial
Press, 1972);-Ruth Underhill, Red Man's Religion
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965); and
Elsie Clews Parsons, Pueblo Indian Religion
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939).
12. Alfred Kroeber, "The Arapaho," Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 18 (1902-7): 19. Parsons, "Zuni La' Mana," p. 525. 14A. lexander Maximilian, Travels in the Interior of North America, 1832-1834, vol. 22 of Early Western Travels, ed. Reuben Gold Thwaites, 32 vols. (Cleveland: A. H. Clark, 1906), pp. 283-84, 354. Maximilian was quoted in German in the early homosexual rights book by Ferdinand Karsch-Haack, Das Gleichgeschlechtliche Leben der Naturvolker (The same-sex life of nature peoples) (Munich: Verlag von Ernst Reinhardt, 1911; reprinted New York: Arno Press, 1975), pp. 314, 564.
15. Oscar Koch, Der Indianishe Eros (Berlin: Verlag
Continent, 1925), p. 61.
16. George Devereux, "Institutionalized Homosexuality
of the Mohave Indians," Human Biology 9 (1937):
Ibid., p. 501.
19. Ibid., pp. 508-9.
20. C. Daryll Forde, "Ethnography of the Yuma Indians,"
University of California Publications in American
Archaeology and Ethnology 28 (1931): 157.
21. Ruth Underhill, social organization of the Papago
Indians (New York: Columbia University Press,
1938), p. 186. This story is also mentioned in Ruth
Underhill, ed., The Autobiography of a Papago
Woman (Menasha, Wisc.: American Anthropological
Association, 1936), p. 39.
22. John Fire and Richard Erdoes, Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972), pp. 117, 149. 23. Theodore Stern, The Klamath Tribe: A People and Their Reservation (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1965), pp. 20, 24. Theodore Stern, "Some Sources of Variability in Klamath Mythology," Journal of American Folklore 69 (1956): 242ff. Leshe Spier, Klamath Ethnography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1930), p. 52. 24. Clark Wissler, "Societies and Ceremonial Associations in the Oglala Division of the Teton Dakota," Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 11, pt. 1 (1916): 92; Powers, Oglala Religion, pp. 57-59. 25. Ronnie Loud Hawk, Lakota informant 4, July 1982. 26. Terry Calling Eagle, Lakota informant 5, July 1982. 27. James S. Thayer, "The Berdache of the Northern Plains: A Socioreligious Perspective," Journal of Anthropological Research 36 (1980): 289. 28. Fletcher, "Elk Mystery," p. 281. 29. Alice Fletcher and Francis La Flesche, "The Omaha Tribe," Bureau of American Ethnology Annual Report 27 (1905-6): 132. 30. Harriet Whitehead offers a valuable discussion of this element of the vision quest in "The Bow and the Burden Strap: A New Look at Institutionalized Homosexuality in Native North America," in Sexual Meanings, ed. Sherry Ortner and Harriet Whitehead (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1981), pp. 99-102. See also Erikson, "Childhood," p. 329.

WL Williams

File: the-berdache-tradition.pdf
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Author: WL Williams
Author: Jeff Elman
Published: Sun Nov 5 18:43:44 2000
Pages: 9
File size: 0.05 Mb

, pages, 0 Mb

IN CONTEXT, 12 pages, 0.67 Mb

The Senate, 11 pages, 0.14 Mb

Groza jest święta, 133 pages, 2.02 Mb
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