Here you'll be able to learn about what indigenous is, as well as other terms such as American Indian, First Nations, Aboriginal, and others.
In addition, you can also learn about what the L, G, B, T, Q, P, A, I letters mean as well as what is Two Spirit and its history.
Indigenous peoples are the original inhabitants and caretakers of a given land, water, or region. This is in contrast to individuals, communities, and populations who have settled, occupied, or otherwise colonized the areas recently and throughout history. Some words used to describe Indigenous people are Aboriginal, Native, Original Peoples, or First Nations. Indigenous is often used in an international, transnational, intertribal, and even in global context. It's usage became more popularized in the 1970's when many Indigenous nations, tribes, and peoples organized around the world, beyond nation state borders, organized for greater self-representation and presence at the United Nations. According to the United Nations, Indigenous refers broadly to groups of people who have long settlements and connections to the lands and waters who have been adversely affected by industrialization, displacement, and settlements of their cultural and traditional homelands and water by other non-indigenous peoples. For Indigenous Pride LA, we also acknowledge the effects that colonization and missionization have had on indigenous peoples, their cultures, their history, and their lands and waters. However, it should be noted that there isn't a general accepted definition of Indigenous and not all Aboriginal, Native, Original, or First Nations peoples identify with the term Indigenous.
American Indians & Alaska Natives are more of a legal term used by the United States government to define and categorize people that have origins of the Americas within the politically defined borders of early United States to present day. The term American Indian applies to the Indigenous peoples who lie within the borders which the United States occupied and then expanded into.
The generalizing term "Indian" and "sav*ges" started when Italian explorer and colonizer, Christopher Columbus, encountered the Indigenous peoples of the Caribbean. He initially thought he landed in the Indian Ocean since at the time, North, Central, and South Americas where undiscovered according to the Old World. The label Indian would stay and become popularized starting with the 13 British colonies on the eastern coast of present day United States to the Louisiana Purchase and then to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (Treaty of Paris). The Indigenous people the United States government encountered on the mainland after each war and expansion were all given the label "American Indian" except for Alaska Natives and later, the Indigenous peoples of the islands on the Pacific Coast.
It should be noted that some Indigenous peoples of the United States identify with the label American Indian or Indian. On the other hand, some Indigenous peoples of the United States do not identify with the label as well; instead, would rather be referred to with their respective nation, tribe, or peoples often in their own language.
Prior to Alaska Purchase of 1867, the Indigenous peoples of what is now known as Alaska were colonized by the Russian traders and missionaries during the mid-eighteenth century. After the Crimean War with Britain as well as other financial difficulties, Russia sold the occupied lands to the United States in 1867. The generalizing term Alaska Natives was given to the Indigenous peoples of the lands. It is because of this that Alaska Natives and American Indians are labeled separately in terms of legal and official recognition by federal and state governments.
It should be noted that some Indigenous peoples of Alaska identify with the label Alaska Native. On the other hand, some Indigenous peoples of Alaska do not identify with the label as well; instead, would rather be referred to with their respective nation, tribe, or peoples often in their own language.
Generally, this term is used to describe Indigenous peoples of the Americas, including North, Central, and South America. However, this term does not apply to many Pacific Islands in close proximity to the mainlands such as the case with Hawaii.
In the United States, this was seen as another alternative to the inaccurate term American Indian as many Indigenous peoples felt they were not Indians but rather, native to the Americas. This term also became popularized during the Self-Determination era of the 1970's which was a period of social movement, legislation, and beliefs by which Native American tribes exercised self governance and decision making on issues that affected each of their own respective peoples.
It should be noted that some Indigenous peoples of the United States identify with the label Native American. On the other hand, some Indigenous peoples of the United States do not identify with the label as well; instead, would rather be referred to with their respective nation, tribe, or peoples often in their own language.
This term is used to generalize the Indigenous people who reside in the political borders of Canada, except the Indigenous peoples who lived above the Arctic Circle in which they were generalized as "Inuits". Inuit under Canadian law are also not considered Indians as their interaction with the Canadian government is unique. "Indians" in Canada also refer to the legal identities of the Indigenous peoples who were and are registered under the Indian Act. First Nations was created to replace the inaccurate label at the time which was Indian or Band in the 1970's but increased usage in the 1980's. This term is also used in legal settings such as the Employment Equity Act in which they are classified as a "designated group" along with women, visible minorities, and people with physical or mental disabilities. They are also not considered a visible minority under the Act or by the criteria of Statistics Canada. Another group in Canada that can trace their heritage to the Indigenous peoples of Canada are the Métis which include descendants of European settlers and including but not limited to the Wabanaki, Algonquin, Saulteaux, Cree, Ojibwe, Meno, or of mixed descent from these peoples.
All three, the First Nations, Inuits, and Métis are what is collectively known as the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, also known as Aboriginal Canadians. Many Indigenous peoples on the reserves also use the terms First Nations persons, First Nations woman, and First Nations man.
It should be noted that some Indigenous peoples of Canada identify with the labels First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. On the other hand, some Indigenous peoples of Canada do not identify with the labels as well; instead, would rather be referred to with their respective nation, tribe, or peoples often in their own language.
In Australia, this legally refers to "the aboriginal race of Australia" which includes the indigenous peoples of mainland Australia and Tasmania. The term Aboriginal Australians was created after Australia was colonized in 1788 which was a generalizing term for the people they found already inhabiting the island and any descendants of them. In the early 20th century, the Indigenous peoples of Australia were excluded in many demographic data keeping and statistics that were vital in access to resources as well as political and legal representation.
It should be noted that some Indigenous peoples of Australia identify with the label Aborigine. On the other hand, some Indigenous peoples of Australia would rather be referred to with their respective nation, tribes, or peoples often in their own language.
In Canada, this refers to the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, which are the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples whose Indigenous homelands lie within or partially within the politically defined borders of Canada. The term became more popular after 1982 when Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution define the term to be inclusive to all three.
It should be noted that some Indigenous peoples of Canada identify with Aboriginal Canadian, First Nations, Inuit, or Métis. However, some Indigenous peoples of Canada would rather be referred to with their respective nation, tribe, or peoples often in their own language
Original Peoples is often used interchangeably with Indigenous, Native, Aboriginal, or First Nations depending on the context of its usage. Generally, it refers to the Indigenous, aboriginal, and Native peoples who were and are the original stewards, guardians, or caretakers of certain lands, waters, or regions. This also includes the original peoples' descendants or those with mixed ancestry who are descendant of original peoples.
Indigenous Pride LA advises that at Indigenous Pride LA events, to use labels and terms that individuals refer to themselves as. Be it American Indian & Alaska Native, Native American, First Nation, Métis, Inuit, Aboriginal, Aborigine, Original, or Indigenous peoples, individuals may identify with these labels. Be wary however, that individuals may identify with these labels in conjunction with the respective names of their nations, tribes, and peoples. Individuals may also only want to refer to themselves in their own nation's, tribe's, or people's language. Some reasons are that the individuals may feel that they cannot speak for other Indigenous peoples' experiences, history, lives, or traditions. Other reasons may be that they do not want to identify and be referred to as a collective of distinct and unique nations, tribes, or peoples.
For anytime, we recommend asking and making an honest effort to remember an individual's preferences.
Two Spirit (2S) should always be stated before LGBTQPAI or any variations as the notion of Two Spirit predated the former terms and to give respect to Indigenous peoples.
To understand more about Two Spirit and LGBTQPAI+, it is crucial to first understand the concepts of:
But first, we need to talk about the Gender Binary.
The Gender Binary is construct or popular idea that states there are only two gender and sexes in the universe. Male and female, man and woman. Male children mature into men and female children mature into women. All boys and men are to only be attracted to women and all girls and women are to only be attracted to men. This idea was popularized and enforced mainly through colonization and global missionization. Be cautious as many Indigenous people do not have or have had a gender binary system. Even today, the Gender Binary is being heavily criticized and rejected as more people are liberating themselves from the many oppressive systems colonization and missionization has instilled onto them.
However, when one looks at the world entirely, one can see that this is not entirely true. Not all infants are born male or female as it is known that intersex people exist. Intersex conditions also may not be discovered until later in a person's life. In addition, it is also known that infants cannot say what their sex or gender is; instead, a sex and gender is assigned to them, usually by a medical professional. In this way, infants or children are assigned a gender at birth and even when they are still in the womb. For children assigned male at birth, they are AMAB, and for children assigned female at birth, they are AFAB. Take caution as these are assigned sex and genders and not a biological reality as we have to remember that intersex children exist and usually have invasive “corrective” surgery to make them fit into the gender binary.
Sex is the biological and physiological characteristics that distinguishes male, female, or intersex anatomy from each other within groups of organisms or living creatures, including humans. Some but not all of these characteristics are marked by one's:
It should be noted that sex is not synonymous with gender as that will be discussed later on.
As you can see, sex is a biological reality and it is not binary at all. Even with people who are not intersex, there exists numerous variations with them such as weight, skin color, hair, etc.
Gender Identity is one's own internal sense of being female, a woman, feminine, male, a man, or masculine (also known as gender). One could also have an internal sense of being non binary where they don't identify as being entirely male, female, feminine, masculine, a woman, or a man. Some people may or may not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.
We also can see in the world that AMAB and AFAB children don’t mature into their assigned gender.
For example: a child assigned male at birth doesn’t always grow up to be a boy or a man. They might transition into a girl or a woman at any point in their lives.
When this happens, the child is transgender.
Transgender is when one does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth (as a result, is utilized as a general umbrella term). It utilizes the prefix "trans-" meaning "across from" and the root word "gender (from Latin genus meaning birth or origin)" which when put together means "the gender across the gender (that they were assigned at birth)." Transgender people can identify with any sexual or romantic orientation. It was created to replace outdated and offensive terminology to those who did not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. Offensive terminology such as "transsexual, cross dresser, transvestite, etc." though it should be noted that there are individuals who still identify with these terms.)
When a child DOES mature into their assigned gender, they are cisgender.
For example: a child assigned male at birth who DOES mature into a boy or man is a cisgender boy or a cisgender man.
Cisgender is when one identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth. It utilizes the prefix "cis-" meaning "on the side of" and the root word "gender (from Latin genus meaning birth or origin)" which if the gender binary is addressed means "on the side of gender (that they were assigned at birth)." It was created to address the invalidating terms of "biological man or woman, real man or woman, natal born man or woman" when comparing transgender people to cisgender people. Transgender people are real, natural, and natal born.
In addition, a transgender child or person might not mature into a boy, girl, man, or woman if they know themselves not to be that. They might transition into a nonbinary or gender nonconforming individual where they don’t ascribe to the gender binary.
When a transgender child or person transitions into a boy, girl, man, or woman, they are a binary transgender individual as they adhere to the gender binary and are comfortable with it.
Lastly, transgender and cisgender people can identify with any sexual or romantic orientation.
Gender Expression is how one expresses their own external sense of their gender whether is it masculine, feminine, androgynous, etc. Gender expression is not the same as gender identity or used to tell someone's sexual or romantic orientation. There are various ways in which someone expresses their gender such as:
Another observation of the world is that everyone of every gender identity expresses their gender in various ways (gender expression). Boys and men might be more masculine and girls and women might be more feminine. However, it is also known that not all boys and girls and men and women do this. Many cisgender and transgender boys, girls, men, and women express themselves in many ways through their manners, postures, voice, hair, clothing, makeup, hobbies, etc.
Sexual orientation is the sexual attraction to other people. This sexual attraction can be based on one's sexual anatomy or even gender. There can be many forms of sexual attraction such as:
Note that sexual orientation is not the same as one's romantic orientation as romantic orientation has nothing to do with sexual attraction.
Romantic orientation is the romantic attraction to other people. This term was created to be inclusive to the asexual community since even though they experience little to no sexual attraction towards any person, they still feel romantic and emotional connections to others. This term also addresses the fact that even though one can have sexual attraction towards another, they don't necessarily have romantic attractions towards them and vice versa (meaning sexual orientation and romantic orientation are two distinct identities independent of each other). There can be many forms of romantic attraction such as:
Note that romantic orientation is not the same as one's sexual orientation.
The term "Two Spirit" comes from the Anishinaabe word niizh manidoowag from the words niizh ("two") and manidoo ("spirit"). It was created in 1990 through a consensus at the Third Annual Inter-tribal Native American, First Nations Gay and Lesbian American Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The term Two Spirits is more of a descriptive term which alludes to Indigenous persons whose identities and cultural roles aren't by western colonial standards considered cisgender heteronormative. These identities and cultural roles vary from tribe to tribe, from nation to nation, and from people to people. It was an attempt to try and unify the many third, fourth, fifth, or other sacred genders and the indigenous terms that exists within many indigenous cultures (an umbrella term) as they were and continue to be a marginalized group in modern colonization and globalization. Two Spirit also addresses the western colonial gender binary system in which there are certain honorable individuals in many indigenous cultures who have varying degrees of femininity and masculinity, also known as having a feminine and masculine spirit.
Two Spirit was also created to replace the popular outdated and blatantly offensive term berdache. Prior to the inception of Two Spirit, berdache was a popular academic term used to describe the non-cisgender heteronormative individuals who exist in North America. (Etymology: It is an English spelling of the French word bardache which was used by the French colonizers in what we now know as Canada to describe the indigenous individuals who were non-cisgender heteronormative that they've encountered. The French colonizers came about this term from texts of the Old World (Europe, Africa, Asia) that had records of the Persian word bardaj ( بَرْدَج )which meant "slave." At the time, Italy and Spain also had the terms bardascia/bardasso and bardaje, respectively). All variations of the term had similar negative connotations which was used to describe a catamite or a kept young boy used for sexual purposes; however, over time the term began to lose its sexual and age definition and instead found its meaning as someone who was an AMAB homosexual. These term variations most likely resulted from influences of Muslim Spain or via contact with Muslims. The Persian term bardaj stemmed from the Old Iranian term "varta-" meaning "seized, prisonder." Vart- also stems from the Indo-European root word "wela-" meaning "to strike" or "to wound."
Two Spirit was also created to highlight, honor, and celebrate an indigenous person's cultural heritage, role, and tradition respective to their tribe, nation, and people. With that in mind, Two Spirit is not synonymous to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, pansexual, asexual, or intersex as these labels specifically address one's sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual and romantic orientation in a western colonial context. Instead, many individuals will have a dual or intersectional identity of being LGBTQPAI and Two Spirit (eg. cis gay man who is Two Spirit, trans asexual woman who is Two Spirit, intersex and Two Spirit, etc.). It is in this manner, Two Spirit is its own identity. Instead of writing LGBTQIA2S+, write:
Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+
Here at Indigenous Pride LA, we have LGBTQPAI and Two Spirit to highlight the distinction that folks can be Indigenous LGBTQPAI and Two Spirit as Two Spirit is already an indigenous identity and does not need to be reiterated.