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May 21, 2024

Celebrating Two-Spirit Identity: Promoting Inclusion and Health

Two-Spirited people were often the visionaries, the healers and the medicine people. They were respected as fundamental components of our ancient culture and societies.

Two Spirit People of the 1st Nations

As we approach PRIDE Month, we recognize and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and the diversity within it. Among the many identities under this vibrant umbrella is Two-Spirit, which bridges Indigenous and Western understandings of gender and sexuality.

Two-Spirit refers to Indigenous individuals who embody both masculine and feminine qualities, who historically served unique roles within their communities as healers, teachers, and spiritual leaders. Embracing Two-Spirit identity is not only a matter of self-expression but also a deeply rooted cultural and spiritual tradition.

Understanding and honoring Two-Spirit identity is essential in promoting health within the LGBTQ+ community. Research has shown that individuals who are accepted and affirmed in their identities experience better mental and physical health outcomes.

As a foundation dedicated to improving the health of kids and families in Western Montana, we invest in organizations that uplift and empower LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit youth. We are proud to support the work of Montana Two-Spirit Society, a grassroots group dedicated to building healthy Native and Indigenous Two-Spirit communities.

The Montana Two-Spirit Society educates the Montana LGBTQ+ and broader community about Two Spirit issues, histories and traditions. They promote health, wellness and spiritual wellbeing by sharing their traditions with one another, healing past wounds, and learning new ways to combat disease. From hosting a youth program and educational workshops to advocating for policy changes that protect the rights of Two-Spirit people, they are increasing inclusivity and promoting health equity in Western Montana and beyond.

How can you support the Montana Two-Spirit Society and similar organizations? Here are 5 ways:

  1. Educate yourself! Take the time to learn about Two-Spirit identity, its history and cultural significance, and the challenges faced by Two-Spirit individuals. This video with David Herrera, Director of the Montana Two-Spirit Society is a great place to start.
  2. Amplify their voices! Share resources, articles, stories and events from @montanatwospirit and other Two-Spirit organizations and activists.
  3. Donate! Consider making a financial contribution to the Montana Two-Spirit society to help them continue their vital work.
  4. Volunteer! The Montana Two-Spirit Society is looking for willing volunteers to help out in various areas of their organization and efforts.
  5. Show up! Missoula PRIDE is happening June 14-16 in downtown Missoula. This is an inclusive and celebratory space where people from all walks of life and with all gender and sexual identities can be in community with one another.

As we celebrate PRIDE Month, let’s honor the strength and beauty of our LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit neighbors. By supporting organizations like the Montana Two-Spirit Society, we can create a more inclusive and equitable Western Montana where everyone can thrive.