Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Before European Christians Forced Gender Roles, Native Americans Acknowledged 5 Genders

We-Wa, a Zuni two-spirit, weaving. Both the Spanish settlers in Latin America and the English colonists in North America condemned them as “sodomites.”

It wasn’t until Europeans took over North America that natives adopted the ideas of gender roles. For Native Americans, there was no set of rules that men and women had to abide by in order to be considered a “normal” member of their tribe.

In fact, people who had both female and male characteristics were viewed as gifted by nature, and therefore, able to see both sides of everything. According to Indian Country Today, all native communities acknowledged the following gender roles: “Female, male, Two Spirit female, Two Spirit male and Transgendered.”

“Each tribe has their own specific term, but there was a need for a universal term that the general population could understand. The Navajo refer to Two Spirits as Nádleehí (one who is transformed), among the Lakota is Winkté (indicative of a male who has a compulsion to behave as a female), Niizh Manidoowag (two spirit) in Ojibwe, Hemaneh (half man, half woman) in Cheyenne, to name a few. As the purpose of “Two Spirit” is to be used as a universal term in the English language, it is not always translatable with the same meaning in Native languages. For example, in the Iroquois Cherokee language, there is no way to translate the term, but the Cherokee do have gender variance terms for ‘women who feel like men’ and vice versa.”

The “Two Spirit” culture of Native Americans was one of the first things that Europeans worked to destroy and cover up. According to people like American artist George Catlin, the Two Spirit tradition had to be eradicated before it could go into history books. Catlin said the tradition:

“Must be extinguished before it can be more fully recorded.”

However, it wasn’t only white Europeans that tried to hide any trace of native gender bending. According to Indian Country Today, “Spanish Catholic monks destroyed most of the Aztec codices to eradicate traditional Native beliefs and history, including those that told of the Two Spirit tradition.” Throughout these efforts by Christians, Native Americans were forced to dress and act according to newly designated gender roles.

One of the most celebrated Two Spirits in recorded history was a Lakota warrior aptly named Finds Them And Kills Them. Osh-Tisch was born a male and married a female, but adorned himself in women’s clothing and lived daily life as a female. On June 17 1876, Finds Them And Kills Them gained his reputation when he rescued a fellow tribesman during the Battle of Rosebud Creek. An act of fearless bravery. Below is a picture of Osh-Tisch and his wife.

Osh-Tisch (left) and his wife (right). Of all of the foreign life ways Indians held, one of the first the Europeans targeted for elimination was the Two Spirit tradition among Native American cultures.

In Native American cultures, people were valued for their contributions to the tribe, rather than for masculinity or femininity. Parents did not assign gender roles to children either, and even children’s clothing tended to be gender neutral. There were no ideas or ideals about how a person should love; it was simply a natural act that occurred without judgement or hesitation.

Without a negative stigma attached to being a Two Spirit, there were no inner-tribal incidents of retaliation or violence toward the chosen people simply due to the fact that individuals identified as the opposite or both genders.

“The Two Spirit people in pre-contact Native America were highly revered and families that included them were considered lucky. Indians believed that a person who was able to see the world through the eyes of both genders at the same time was a gift from The Creator.”

Religious influences soon brought serious prejudice against “gender diversity,” and so this forced once openly alternative or androgynous people to one of two choices. They could either live in hiding, and in fear of being found out, or they could end their lives. Many of whom did just that.

Imagine a world where people allowed others to live freely as the people nature intended them to be..without harm..without persecution..without shame. Imagine a world where we are truly free.

By Pearson McKinney| 19 June 2016

Reprinted with permission from the author.

Pearson McKinney is a life-long outspoken liberal political activist, freelance writer, and Managing Editor of Bipartisan Report and Americans Against The Tea Party.

Native America before European Colonization:

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Inquisition – one of the most appalling gifts to human tyranny

Those who celebrate Christianity’s contributions to Western civilization might want to remind themselves of one of the church’s most appalling gifts to human tyranny, the Inquisition, a heresy hunt ordained by the papacy that wreaked misery upon Europe from the early thirteenth century until well into the eighteenth. Endowed with nearly limitless authority, shrouded in secrecy, and freed from all accountability, the inquisitors indulged in unfettered butchery and rapacity, taking lives and confiscating property, growing rich in the process, treating the accused as having no rights, and treating everyone, from the meanest to the highest, as potentially suspect.
The victim’s guilt was assumed in advance and confession was to be extracted by guile or ordeal. One’s regular church attendance and generous oblations, one’s verbal professions of strict devotion to orthodox doctrine, one’s willingness to subscribe to whatever was demanded by the tribune—all were as naught. For the accused might still be nursing a secret heresy. The Inquisition had to uncover the impossible: the unspoken thoughts in a person’s head. But luckily, the task was made easier by the procedure itself. The victim need not be proven guilty; suspicion alone was enough to bring on the fatal judgment. The inquiry almost always ended in execution or, less frequently, life incarceration in a dark dungeon.
Along with its judges, the Inquisition had its armed retainers, extortionists, spies, and of course, torturers and executioners. Henry Charles Lea writes that, except among the Visigoths, torture had been “unknown among the barbarians who founded the commonwealths of Europe, and their system of jurisprudence had grown up free from its contamination.” Not until the thirteenth century did it begin to be employed “sparingly and hesitatingly” in judicial proceedings, after which it rapidly won its way into the Inquisition, administered at first only by secular authorities—on command from the Inquisitional tribune. In 1252, church canons prohibited ecclesiastics from being present when torture was administered, perhaps an implicit admission that the procedure was morally tainted. Yet within a few years, inquisitors and their servitors were absolving each other of “irregularities” under the papal bull so that they might directly supervise torture sessions.
Those who confessed were burned as admitted heretics. Those who withstood all pain and mutilation and did not confess were burned as unrepentent heretics. Heresy itself retained a conveniently vague and elastic meaning. Prisoners who confessed under torture were tortured again to gain information about other evil-doers among their own family and friends, then tortured again if they subsequently recanted any of the coerced testimony—after which they were burned at the stake. Witnesses too were sometimes tortured in order to extract properly damning testimony. Anyone who showed sympathy or support for the accused, who dared to question the relentlessly self-confirming process, was doomed to meet the same fate.
In 1484 German princes were reluctant to give the Roman Inquisition entry into Germany. The Inquisition loomed as a rival authority, one inclined to go into business for itself, condemning not only the poor but some of the rich and well born and expropriating their estates. But the grave anxiety occasioned by peasant insurrections made the princes more tractable. The Inquisition opportunely arrived upon the scene, in Jules Michelet’s words, “to terrorize the country and break down rebellious spirits, burning as Sorcerers today the very men who would likely enough tomorrow have been insurgents,” channeling popular restiveness away from the ruling interests and against witches and demons.
Some historians actually have apologetic words for the Inquisition. Ignoring all evidence to the contrary, Carlton Hayes and his associates claim that the Inquisition’s most frequent penalty was a mere fine and confiscation of property, with imprisonment reserved only for the “more severe cases.” And some suspects were required to undertake expensive pilgrimages, or “wear distinctive markings on their clothes.” Hayes makes no mention of torture, and claims that the death penalty was applied only to the “relatively few” who refused to recant their heresy or who relapsed after recantation. The inquisitors, it seems, did not burn heretics but conscientiously strove to save their immortal souls through conversion.
A different summation of the Inquisition is offered by Lea, who has done the monumental study of this subject: “Fanatic zeal, arbitrary cruelty, and insatiable cupidity … it was a system which might well seem the invention of demons.” In fact, it was the invention of the Christian church of that day. A religion is not something entirely apart from the crimes committed in its name. The church’s war against heresy began in the first generation of its existence and continued without stint for more than sixteen hundred years. Centuries of Christianity’s meanspirited, violent propagation of a monopoly faith created the fertile soil upon which the Inquisition took root and flourished.
This piece by Michael Parenti was originally published at Third World Traveler.
Michael Parenti is an internationally known award-winning author and lecturer. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Yale University. He has taught at a number of colleges and universities, in the United States and abroad. Some of his writings have been translated into Arabic, Azeri, Bangla, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.
Secret Files of the Inquisition – part 1 – Root Out Heretics:

History Channel The Dark Ages Complete Documentary:

Power of the Church in the Middle Ages: