A while back, Will Roscoe wrote a fascinating book about gender among the Native North Americans. I found it fascinating in my research into gender and sexuality. Roscoe noted that many Native North American tribes had a very different gender structure than the West. Thus, it is not surprising to me that the Santa Ysabel Tribe has announced their support for and recognition of same-sex marriage.
Many Native North American tribes had at least a trinary and even a quatrinary gender system. While same-gender marriage was, perhaps, an oddity, same-sex marriage was not because the Native North Americans recognized more than two genders.
The Santa Ysabel was founded in 1893 in California, and has experienced the prejudice and denial of basic human rights from not just the United States, but also from the Spanish.
As a sovereign nation, they have the power to issue proclamations on public policy on issue affecting their members and those living on their reservation. There are some 300 members of the band today.
Virgil Perez, the Tribal Chairman, stated “Although the Tribe has certainly come far, they won’t ever forget the sting of prejudice, or stand passively by when others suffer discrimination or denial of basic human rights. Native Americans have fought hard to establish and protect their own rights, and Santa Ysabel is determined to support our own, and other same sex couples in their struggle to be recognized and treated fairly as citizens of this great nation.”
The Santa Ysabel Tribe is the fourth tribal jurisdiction to recognize same-sex marriages.
Perez also said “In our support of their battle for equality we want the LGBT community to know they are welcome here, and that the encouragement and respect of our membership are with them.”