The seventh annual BAAITS powwow takes place February 3, 2018, in San Francisco, California. Image: BAAITS

Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits prepare for seventh annual powwow

The seventh annual Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits powwow, the largest of its kind in the world, is just around the corner.

The event, which was the first for Two-Spirits and their allies, takes place February 3, 2018, in San Francisco, California. Organizers are preparing to welcome thousands of visitors -- more than 4,000 attended their most recent powwow.

“For our people, a powwow is a social gathering that brings people from many of the 500-plus Native American nations together,” said Ruth Villasenor, a BAAITS board member who is Apache. “The reintegration of Two-Spirit people into the broader Native community is part of our mission, so this is an important step.”

A number of head dancers will be recognized during the powwow. They include Candi Brings Plenty, a citizen of the Oglala Sioux Tribe who led the Two-Spirit Camp at Oceti Sakowin in North Dakota during opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Also being recognized is John M. Sneezy, who hails from the San Carlos Apache Tribe. The head youth dancer is Jarron William Richard Goggles-Lahr, from the Blackfeet Nation and the Northern Arapaho Tribe.

The host drum is Southern Pride from Oklahoma. The group has been at the BAAITS powwow since its inception in 2011.

“This powwow provides a lot for a lot of people," said coordinator Derek Smith, who is a citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. "For some non-Natives, it is an introduction to our people. For some Native community members it’s a reminder of the role of Two-Spirits in our community. It's an amazing opportunity for healing.”

The BAAITS powwow, which will be held at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, takes place three weeks before a similar event. Bry Cordell Smiley, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, is hosting the first-ever Two-Spirit powwow at the Haskell Indian Nations University on February 24-25, 2018.

“I just want the powwow to be a celebration of inclusiveness and diversity,” Smiley told Indianz.Com of his upcoming event in Lawrence, Kansas.

Related Stories:
Navajo student hosts first-ever Two-Spirit powwow at Haskell University in Kansas (December 4, 2017)
Annual Two-Spirit Powwow promises inclusion in San Francisco (February 18, 2016)