Gay Marriage in the Navajo Indian Nation

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“Peggy and Buck. Peggy said to be intersex.” Photographer: Ben Wittick | 1880-1890 | Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, New Mexico History Museum | 15010

Writing in Fusion, Jorge Rivas notes:

The Navajos have a rich, documented history of accepting and even honoring people that identified with different genders and sexual preferences. … “We were recognizing same-sex unions between a man and a man and a woman and a woman long before white people came on to this land,” Alray Nelson, lead organizer at the Coalition for Navajo Equality, a local community group working to end the ban on gay marriage, told Fusion.

There are drawings, photographs, oral histories, and even language that may be evidence LGBT Navajo tribe members were once accepted. The Navajo language has at least one term for tribe members that don’t fit traditional heterosexual roles: nádleehí.

“Historically our society was more accepting of a person who was nádleehí,” said Dr. Jennifer Denetdale, a University of New Mexico associate professor and a member of the Navajo Humans Rights Commission.

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