ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

Two-Spirit Powwow: Honoring LGBTQ people

Oct 10, 2023, 11:00 AM

Native dancers dressed in regalia participate in the grand entry. The Two Spirit Powwow was held to...

Dancers participate in the grand entry during the 28th annual Intertribal Powwow in Liberty Park in Salt Lake City on Saturday, July 23, 2022. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Urban Indian Center held its 4th annual Two Spirit Powwow on Friday at Salt Lake Community College. It’s held in October because it’s LGBTQ history month.

“The Two-Spirit Powwow is a way for us to honor our LGBTQ and two-spirit relatives,” Kristina Groves, the center’s behavioral health division director, told KSL NewsRadio.

According to the Indian Health Service, native two-spirit people traditionally combined activities of both men and women with traits unique to their status as two-spirit. Two-spirit people are essentially a third gender, neither female nor male. They are often referred to with the same term regardless of whether they were born male or female.

However, two-spirit people are not viewed the same across all indigenous cultures. 

The Two Spirit Powwow held Friday was a social powwow, which means anyone can attend. The powwow starts with the grand entry.

“That’s when all of the dancers, our flag carrier, our spiritual advisor, they all enter the arena into the circle at one time,” Groves said. “It’s pretty spectacular to see.”

Dancers wear intricate regalia and dance in different categories. Although, this powwow was a non-contest powwow.

The powwow also featured a vendor market with art and food.

“It’s really just a way for us to share our culture and to kind of connect socially with Native American people and the wider community,” Groves said.

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Two-Spirit Powwow: Honoring LGBTQ people