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The 13th Annual Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit Powwow, held on February 10, 2024, marked the 25th anniversary of the Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit community. Organized by the Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit Society (BAAITS), this annual event serves as a testament to the resilience and cultural richness of the Two-Spirit community. 

Originating from a prayer in 1999, BAAITS emerged as an outcome of the International Two-Spirit gathering held in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since then, it has operated as a labor of love, driven by volunteers dedicated to fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment among Two-Spirit individuals and their allies.  

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Over the past 25 years, BAAITS has expanded its reach to embrace IndigeQueer and LGBTQ+ individuals, fostering a journey of rediscovery and reconnection with their Indigenous heritage. 

Two-Spirit is an Indigenous term for individuals who embody both masculine and feminine qualities, revered for their unique roles in their communities as mediators, healers, and spiritual leaders. It represents a holistic understanding of gender beyond the Western binary, emphasizing a deep connection to ancestry and cultural traditions. 

 “The reason that the BAAITS powwow and BAAITS exist is to welcome folks back into the sacred circle. Many folks, because of their gender expression or sexuality, unfortunately, were outcasted from their communities, and thus needed to create safe and sober spaces, to be able to create spiritual, cultural, and artistic expression for Two-Spirit community members,” BAAITS Executive Director Angel C. Fabian (Ben’Zaa/Zapotec), told Native News Online

The powwow represents a significant milestone in the journey of the Two-Spirit movement, addressing the exclusion faced by community members in mainstream events. BAAITS powwow became the first open public Two-Spirit powwow in the nation, evolving into a powerful celebration of Indigenous identity, culture, and resilience. This year’s powwow drew nearly 5,000 Two-Spirit, IndigeQueer, and LGBTQ+ relatives and allies.

“It has just been an amazing journey to be able to create these beautiful healing spaces for the community to come back into their traditions,” Fabian said. 

Leading up to the main event, a week of diverse activities set the stage for connection and healing. From talking circles and writers panels to ceremonies and drag shows, each event offered an opportunity for community members to share their experiences, celebrate their identities, and reconnect with their cultural heritage. 

“I’m hoping that by continuing and creating these safe, sober spaces for the community to embrace their multiplicity, their identities, and their authentic selves, that we can thrive as a people,” Fabian said. 

To donate to the Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit Society and support their initiatives for the Two-Spirit and IndigeQueer community, visit their website

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About The Author
Kaili Berg
Author: Kaili BergEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Staff Reporter
Kaili Berg (Aleut) is a member of the Alutiiq/Sugpiaq Nation, and a shareholder of Koniag, Inc. She is a staff reporter for Native News Online and Tribal Business News. Berg, who is based in Wisconsin, previously reported for the Ho-Chunk Nation newspaper, Hocak Worak. She went to school originally for nursing, but changed her major after finding her passion in communications at Western Technical College in Lacrosse, Wisconsin.