Very, very rarely will you find me plugging a mainstream television program. If you see or hear of me doing so, the show must be of superlative quality and of great social impact. I’ve been told by some of my more media savvy pals that I need to consider a documentary called “Two Spirits”. So I’ve been looking over the emails and other info that has appeared in my snail mail about the program. From all appearances, the program will not only be of the very highest quality; it will address an emotionally laden topic of current interest within our social debate.
Lydia Nibley’s documentary film, “Two Spirits” is the final installment of the PBS Independent Lens Series for this spring. In as much as it is the last segment of a series, I’d judge that it is probably going to be among the best of an always top-notch grouping of programming efforts. I like to borrow PBS documentaries from the public library because I know that I will be spending my time wisely. I’ve never been disappointed with any production that PBS has aired and/or endorsed.
The air date for Lydia Nibley’s “Two Spirits” program is June 14th, 2011. I believe that every single PBS affiliate in the USA will be carrying the show. To find out the time it will air in your market, you will probably need to check your teevee listings in TV Guide, your newspaper or online. My media mavens tell me that programs of this nature usually attract a nationwide audience of a million and a half viewers. But if enough publicity is spread, the goal of six-million viewers could easily be reached. Hence, my willingness to do my small part by posting it on bluejayblog. So, if you’re reading this, please spread the word far and wide. I’d love to know that at least 6,000,000 viewers took in “Two Spirits”.
The teevee program documents the hate-crime murder of Fred Martinez, a teen from Cortez, Colorado. Marinez’s short life and circumstances surrounding his death are explained. According to Navajo tradition, Martinez was a two-spirit, one who emodies both feminine and masculine characteristics. In the old ways, Two Spirit people are greatly respected and celebrated. Nibley’s documentary posits that a shift in mainstream cultural attitudes can save lives, truly help families and preserve Native People’s traditions.
European culture says there are only two genders. Some native tribes have as many as nine genders. Traditional Navajo culture knows of four genders. Navajo have the feminine woman, the masculine man, the nadleeh–a male bodied person with a feminine nature and dilbaa–a female bodied person with a masculine nature.
Two Spirits people had specialized roles in Navajo society. They were ambassadors to other tribes and races. They were exceptional artists. They were the matchmakers of the tribe. If there were orphaned children in the tribe, Two Spirits parented them. Most famously, Two Spirits were the medicine men/women of the tribes.
This is profoundly different than the standard American opinion that has led to genocide, forced imposition of western religion, along with other forms of subjugation that sadly have effectively amounted to cultural genocide and near loss of tribal Two Spirit traditions.
Traditional mores and morals of the Navajo stress the importance of the balance between masculine and feminine principles in people. The Two Spirits were especially valued because they personified that balance best.
Lydia Nibley invited her mother for a pre-screening of the show. Her very conservative Mormon mom who plays the organ in church each Sunday, invited her 80-year-old friends to see “Two Spirits”. Nibley says that her mother was greatly moved by the story of compassion and respect. The story has influenced her mom’s friends, too.
The “Two Spirits” documentary is to also be used in anti-bullying and anti-suicide efforts. It is another effort in the work to save the lives of LGBTQ youth. The film is also raising discussion amongst civil rights groups. I’m looking forward to finding a teevee to raise my own conciousness about these issues.
The Blue Jay of Happiness knows that this film will increase the amount of happiness in the world.