In many Native American cultures, males displaying feminine characteristics at an early age were apprenticed to the holy man of the tribe. They were considered two-spirited, assuming the female gender yet possessing the strength of a man. By tribal sacrament, they were honored as healers and prophets.
A prime example was We'wha of the Zuni Nation. In 1886, she traveled east to Washington, D.C., at the urging of anthropologist Matilda Stevenson.
Nicknamed Princess We'wha, she gained instant celebrity. Her social circle included government officials and the local elite. She worked with anthropologists at the Smithsonian Institute, even demonstrating Zuni weaving on the Washington mall. All the while, no one knew she was a man.
Learn more about We'wha's fate in the next episode of "Rainbow Minute."
This Rainbow Minute was read by Tall Feathers.
“The Rainbow Minute” is produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and can be heard every weekday at 7:59am, 12:29pm and 2:59pm on WRIR – 97.3fm in Richmond, Virginia, and webcast at wrir.org. It’s also heard internationally on over 200 stations.