Eight LGBT Native Americans You Should Know
BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
November 23 2012 5:00 AM ET
Paula Gun Allen
Before her death in 2008, author Paula Gunn Allen was one of the preeminent Native lesbian activists. Mixed-race (Native American, Lebanese, and Scottish) and closely identified with the Laguna Pueblo Tribe in which she grew up, Allen was a poet, author, and teacher who wrote often of the Native experience and edited several collections of Native American stories, including 1989's Spider Woman's Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women.
Her most acclaimed work (and her most popular with LGBTs) may just be the 1986 nonfiction book The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions, which was groundbreaking in that it was the first of the new wave of academic works looking at Native history from women's perspective. Allen argued that women's roles were much larger than white explorers let on, because of the European colonizers' patriarchal biases. According to Allen, women were the decision-makers in many tribes; in others, gender equity was the norm. Though the book was criticized by some (mostly male) activists, it went on to become a classic text in many Native American college programs.