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Two Spirit is a culturally distinct gender that describes Indigenous North Americans who fulfils 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.
This English term emerged in 1990 out of the third annual inter-tribal Native American/First Nations gay/lesbian American conference in Winnipeg. 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. The term can also be used more abstractly, to indicate presence of two contrasting human spirits (such as Warrior and Clan Mother) or two contrasting animal spirits (which, depending on the culture, might be Eagle and Coyote). However, these uses, while descriptive of some aboriginal cultural practices and beliefs, depart somewhat from the 1990 purposes of promoting the term.
According to Brian Joseph Gilly, male berdachism "was a fundamental institution among most tribal peoples." Will Roscoe writes that male and female berdaches have been "documented in over 130 tribes, in every region of North America, among every type of native culture."
The term berdache was coined by western anthropologists and used until the late 20th century, mainly to describe feminine Native Americans assigned male at birth. The term is however inaccurate and can nowadays be considered offensive.
Non-natives who use this identity are often accused of "appropriating Native culture."