LGBTQ2 indigenous event provides food for thought and dinner

    Students from the 2018 Queer Indigenous Gathering. <br><p>Photo courtesy of Brook Colley{/p}

    A free event called “Love Medicine: Reclaiming Our Sacred Power,” featuring three indigenous artists and writers who focus on education about the LGBTQ2 community, is touted as a way to fill the belly and feed the soul.

    The Southern Oregon University Queer Indigenous Studies class will hold the fourth annual event from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, in the Rogue River Room of Stevenson Union, 1118 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

    The event includes a dinner catered by SOU.

    “This collaborative final project brings together concepts explored in our class, including survivance (survival + resistance = continuance), settler colonialism, heteropatriarchy, heteronormativity, eroticism, love, healing and community,” according to a press release.

    Nationally recognized speakers include author Tommy Pico (Kumeyaay) of the Viejas Indian reservation in Southern California, Two Spirit artist Ryan Young (Anishinaabe/Ojibway) of the Lac du Flambeau reservation in Wisconsin, and singer/dancer Hawane Rios (Kanaka ’Oiwi) of Waimea, Hawaii.

    While attendees finish dinner, each presenter will take the floor for a half hour. Several informational booklets and resource displays created by the class will be on display, as well.

    SOU student Avram Sacks defined the term “Two Spirit” as an indigenous person who considers themselves in the LGBTQ2 community.

    He said in Native American cultures sexuality was historically more fluid, and those claiming homosexuality were revered by the community. He said a stigma wasn’t associated with the term until missionaries were introduced into the culture.

    “In our culture, we’re more concerned with who someone has sex with,” Sacks said. “In Native American culture, it’s more of how they feel in their body. You didn’t get successful by amassing things, you got ahead by having successful relationships within the community.”

    The first half of the event will be devoted to socializing, he said, and local organizations and campus groups will pass out information at the event, including women studies and Rogue Climate.

    He said the room is usually packed, with more than 250 attendees at past events. No registration is required.

    “We envision this event as a community dinner, an educational celebration, and a gift to our community, while it is also an intervention that serves to unsettle racism, settler colonialism and heterosexism,” according to the press release.

    For more information, email SOU Chair and Assistant Professor of Native American Studies Brook Colley at

    Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

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