The Wabanaki Two-Spirit Alliance is a group of Mi'kmaq, Wolastoqiyik, Passamaquoddy, Abenaki and Penobscot First Nations Two-Spirit People, and our allies. We use many terms to self-identify, such as the English terms Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, among others that may have not been introduced.
Two-Spirit is a term that we currently use, but it may also include terms that we hope to add that are more specific to our cultural, linguistic, philosophical, spiritual, and ceremonial beliefs about identity, gender, sexuality, and other significant references about being L'nu (singular) or L'nuk (plural) which is a Mi'kmaw word for people who speak the same tongue or language. There are variations of Two-Spirit:
Two-Spirit (noun, hyphenated), Two Spirit (noun, not hyphenated), Two-Spirited (adjective).
Two-Spirit is a pan-Indigenous term that was created in 1990 at the Indigenous Lesbian/Gay international gathering in Winnipeg to replace berdache, a colonial term with negative connotations. There are cultural-specific terms to describe people who are Two-Spirited in other Indigenous groups on Turtle Island (North America) and world cultures. There is a publication section about Two-Spirits elsewhere on the website.
In our region, there have been discussions since the emergence of the Alliance to come up with terms that best contextualizes what is being Two-Spirit in our Wabanaki languages. While there are terms that may have been used by W2SA, it is understood that the term/s may be varied according to context, ceremony, use, and language. There is no simple word that may encompass who is Two-Spirit like the word "queer" that was reclaimed as a universal term in English for L-G-B-T and other letters to represent non-gender binary, non-conforming, and various inclusions of sexuality/diversity, which may relate to identity.
W2SA is collaborating to explore what those terms are through research which John R. Sylliboy is aiming to conduct in his current doctoral studies.