Local Treasures with Pia: Spectrum art project to focus on the Indigiqueer experience

Spokane, Washington – Spectrum Center is focused on advocating for and creating a safe environment for all LGBTQIA2S+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Two Spirit, +) and in 2022, the nonprofit is planning arts programs that focus on the indigenous queer experience, or Indigiqueer.

Tara “Roo” Ramos, transitional executive director of Spectrum, said that queer people are known as two-spirit people by most tribes.

“Two Spirits were revered by the tribes,” Ramos said. “It was felt that having two spirits, a male and a female, made you a sacred person.”

Ramos added that Two Spirits were often shamans and teachers of children.

“In pre-colonial times, adult men and women were busy providing for the family and the children were left at home in the camp,” Ramos said. “It was the elders and the special people, like the Two Spirits, who took care of the young and their education.”

Ramos added that Native Americans were more accepting of gender fluidity and not trying to fit people into preconceived male and female groups.

“We hope to give people some visuals as an opportunity to imagine a different and more inclusive world,” Ramos said. “We want people to imagine a world with all genders. Whatever people want to be, they know that they are loved, and they belong.”

A grant from the Avista Foundation is going toward supporting Spectrum’s art projects in 2022. Depending in the COVID situation, Spectrum may have an in-person celebration later this year, but most of the art events have so far been online.

The focus on Indigenous Queer – Indigiqueer – also came about because Spectrum wants to recognize the indigenous people in and around Spokane, and their experience.

“It’s also about creating space for the first indigequeer people,” Ramos said. “To help them feel like they have space in their original homeland, which is right here.”

The artist of the top image is Scyla Dowd (Iñupiaq) who is an Anfro-IndigiQueer community activist.

At Avista, we recognize our unique position gives us the chance to contribute in an impactful way and make a real difference in people's lives. Since its establishment in 2002, the Avista Foundation has made grants totaling over $12 million. The foundation focuses its giving in the areas of vulnerable and limited income populations, education, and economic and cultural vitality.

Grants are provided to non-profit organizations served by Avista Utilities in eastern Washington, northern Idaho, portions of southern Oregon, and Sanders County, Montana. The Avista Foundation also serves communities and citizens served by Alaska Electric Light and Power Co. in the City and Borough of Juneau.

Visit https://www.spectrumcenterspokane.org/ to learn more about upcoming art shows.

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