Saturday February 4th 2017 marked the 6th annual Bay Area Two Spirit Powwow. Founded by J Miko Thomas, Ruth Villasenor and Derek Smith, this popular powwow has grown with every year. The powwow was hosted in the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. The community of San Francisco has embraced this powwow wholeheartedly and attendance over the past years has grown to over 3 thousand people, showing that the healing of the powwow is needed.
I spoke with J Miko Thomas, known also to the community as “Landa Lakes”, about her views on the BAAITS powwow, and it’s importance in the Two Spirit community during a time when political views are tense for both LGBTQIA and Indigenous communities. “I think it’s very important to have a powwow that’s very welcoming of Two-Spirit people. Many people come to this powwow from all over, and it’s not just for Two-Spirit people but for the entire community, so we really like to have that it’s welcoming to all people. All genders, all gender variants.. so whatever you are you are invited to our powwow. As Native people we have to consider that regardless of who ended up in that Presidential position, we would have still needed to fight the Dakota Access Pipeline, we would have still been fighting for our land and for our treaty rights. It’s a continuous and ongoing battle for us, and it’s not going to stop. Today’s powwow could be considered as a political statement, having a two-spirit powwow, but at the same time on a broader scope, it’s just a welcoming and fun environment.” J Miko Thomas is from Oklahoma Chickasaw nation, and grew up doing Stomp Dance and loved the Red Earth Powwow and Indian Days.
The BAAITS powwow included Tiny Tots (all categories), Golden Age, Head Dancers were Travis “Buffalo Barbie” Goldtooth, Justin Goggles Jr., and Head Youth Dancer Kaylene Diamond Baltys. Maters of Ceremonies were L.Frank Manriquez and Coy McLemore with Southern Pride drum group and All Nations Drum. Arena Director Gino Barichello and Head Tabulator Kaylene Kimple worked hard to keep the entire powwow organized and running smoothly.
The dancing was beautiful, and we were even treated to a rare performance of the Horse Tail Dance by Aidan Shortcloud and Tyler Pounds. Vendors had all of their crafts and regalia out for sale, and I was especially impressed by Native “Bag Doll.” One little girl purchased one while I was there, and she held that doll who resembled her as if it were the most precious thing on earth.
Please enjoy the following photos that I took at this years BAAITS Powwow.
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