SKC course focuses on gender and identity

Aug 15th, 2012 | By | Category: 24-1: Communicating Yesterday's Stories Today, Tribal College News
By Lori Lambert

In 2012, Salish Kootenai College (SKC, Pablo, MT) offered a new online course entitled “Gender and Identity in Indian Country.” Two Spirit and gender diversity is one of the least understood and one of the most common features of Native North America. Two Spirit individuals have been documented in over 150 tribes. In the past, Two Spirit individuals were widely accepted and considered holy people, name givers, warriors, ceremony leaders, and performed many duties needed by their tribe. Two Spirit societies are still in existence today, although their roles may have changed.

This course offers an introduction to lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, queer (LBGTQ) studies. It traces the history of gender identity in Indian Country and gay pride, and examines prejudice and violence against gay people, legal rights, issues of “coming out,” HIV and AIDS, and other issues that LBGTQ people face on a daily basis from their community. Gay studies issues in Native American arts, theater, and literature are also examined.

The course identifies role models from the LBGTQ community in art, film, and literature, and touches on recent “Queer Theory.” The course, along with “Two Spirit Identity Theory,” is part of a new focus track within the Social Work Department called Two Spirit Gender Studies. Dr. Lori Lambert (Mi’kmaq/Abenaki) designed the course.

“I just want all of our students to understand the history of Two Spirit people, of LBGTQ people, and to understand their challenges,” she says. “I also want our students to know that SKC is a diverse campus and they are safe here. Dr. Luana Ross, President of SKC, encouraged me to do the course, as well as my friend Rosalinda de La Luna-Long, whose television program on KSKC-TVE inspired me.”

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