Squaw Jim, "Osh-Tisch, Finds Them and Kills Them," Crow. This remarkable photograph is titled "Squaw Jim and his Squaw." On the left is Squaw Jim, a biological male in woman's attire — a Crow berdache or male homosexual, afforded distinctive social & ceremonial status within the tribe. In addition to special attributes that distinguish the berdache or boté, Squaw Jim served as an enlisted scout at Fort Keogh & achieved a reputation for bravery when he saved the life of a tribesman in the Battle of the Rosebud, June 17, 1876. This image is the earliest known photograph of a North American Indian berdache.
The following information is NOT printed on this postcard:
Two-Spirit People, an English term that emerged in 1990 out of the third annual inter-tribal Native American/First Nations gay/lesbian American conference in Winnipeg, describes Indigenous North Americans who fulfill one of many mixed gender roles found traditionally among many Native Americans and Canadian First Nations indigenous groups. The mixed gender roles encompassed by the term historically included wearing the clothing and performing the work associated with both men and women.
A direct translation of the Ojibwe term, Niizh manidoowag, "two-spirited" or "two-spirit" is usually used to indicate a person whose body simultaneously houses a masculine spirit and a feminine spirit.
According to Brian Joseph Gilly, the presence of male two-spirits "was a fundamental institution among most tribal peoples." Will Roscoe writes that male and female two-spirits have been "documented in over 130 tribes, in every region of North America, among every type of native culture."
Until recently, the term berdache was used by anthropologists as a generic term to indicate "two-spirit" individuals; however, this term is increasingly considered outdated and inappropriate. Use of the term has widely been replaced with two-spirit (except in scholarly literature), which originated in Winnipeg, Canada in 1990 during the third annual intertribal Native American/First Nations gay and lesbian conference. It was chosen to distance Native/First Nations people from non-natives as well as from the words berdache and gay.
These individuals were sometimes viewed in certain tribes as having two spirits occupying one body. Their dress is usually a mixture of traditionally male and traditionally female articles. Cross dressing of two-spirit people was not always an indicator of cross acting (taking on other gender roles and social status within the tribe). Lang explains “the mere fact that a male wears women's clothing does not say something about his role behavior, his gender status, or even his choice of partner...” Two-spirits might have relationships with people of either sex.