Finding LGBT Identity in Native American History

HuffPost Gay Voices
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December 11, 2012
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Human nature does not curse or favor any one race or people. There have been gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in every nation that has ever existed on this Earth -- that is, with the possible exception of Iran, whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stood at a podium not so very long ago and proclaimed that there are no homosexuals in Iran. He was greeted with raucous laughter for this statement.

Among the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota tribes, gays and lesbians were called "winkte" (pronounced "wink-tay"). But if you look up the word in the New Comprehensive Edition of the Lakota dictionary, which is the edition compiled and edited by Eugene Buechel and Paul Manhart, both Catholic priests serving on Indian boarding school missions in South Dakota, you will find that these editors were not able to separate their Catholic religion from the reality of the word. Their dictionary translates "winkte" to mean "a hermaphrodite; a plant or animal having both male and female reproductive organs." These Jesuit priests and many who followed them to the Indian missions were too detached from the real world to face the facts about gays and lesbians. (Maybe it's because there were so many among their own ranks.) If the subject was ever broached with their Indian students, I'm sure it was beaten to death as a mortal sin of the first order.