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AIRC plans ‘Two Spirit’ event this week

BEMIDJI -- The American Indian Resource Center will host a parade and informational bazaar Wednesday to raise awareness of “Two Spirit” American Indians and help connect them with helpful resources.

At 4:30 p.m., marchers in traditional Native or rainbow regalia will head from the Chief Shaynowishkung (Chief Bemidji) statue on Lake Bemidji to the resource center on the BSU campus, where they can speak with representatives from nearby tribal colleges, Planned Parenthood, the Rural AIDS Action Network, dementia and Alzheimer’s service organizations, and more.

So what does it mean to be Two Spirit? It generally encompasses LGBTQ American Indians, but has a broader cultural and spiritual significance, explained event organizer Arnold Dahl-Wooley, who advocates for Two Spirit awareness, among other causes, and was one half of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe’s first gay marriage.

“Pre-colonization...you just grew up to be who you were. It didn't matter what sexual orientation or sexual identification was,” Dahl-Wooley told the Pioneer. “You weren't just man or woman but considered a little bit of both, so you were more well attuned to people, in a sense, whether they be male or female, and that's why these people were looked at more as the healers and leaders and so forth.”

Joe Bowen

Joe Bowen covers education and health for the Bemidji Pioneer.

He is a Minneapolis native and a 2009 graduate of St. John's University. Before moving to Bemidji, Bowen covered education, local politics, crime, and everything in between for the Perham Focus in Perham, Minnesota, and Sun Newspapers in suburban Minneapolis.

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