Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Margaret Lukens

Second Committee Member

Darren Ranco

Third Committee Member

Tony Brinkley


While organization around an umbrella term such as “two-spirit” has certainly provided a great service for and revival of discussion surrounding Native non- heteronormative identity, this paper examines the movement toward more community- oriented and Nation-based scholarship around the topic. Such a conscious decision to exist outside of discourse-driven scholarship would provide the opportunity to incorporate a sense of community and acknowledge the role of collective identity in the work of Native academics. Proving that a Nation-based approach is a feasible way to explore Native non-heteronormative identity in a way that both bypasses the use of Western theory and incorporates a sense of community is the first step toward a decolonized scholarship — and not an easy one.

Though addressing the question “How do Native people move through academia, where one’s professional identity is very individualistic, while keeping their community- oriented and Nation-based identity in tact?” is absolutely unavoidable in the progression toward a more community-oriented, Nation-based approach to scholarship, this paper aims to serve as a launch pad for the discovery of the various ways in which one may respond to such a question. Ideally, the creation of a community of Native academics who address this question as it relates to various issues — not limited to only those of Native non-heteronormative identity, but across all academic disciplines — is what will make a difference in propelling Native scholarship toward a place where community-oriented and Nation-based scholarship is the respected norm.