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The women of the family "are inclined to look upon him with favor, since it means that he will remain a member of the household and do almost double the work of a woman, who necessarily ceases at times from her labors at the mill and other duties to bear children and to look after the little ones; but the ko'thlama [lhamana] is ever ready for service, and is expected to perform the hardest labors of the female department.

Two were among "the finest potters and weavers in the tribe. Over thirty-five years later, Dissette recorded her recollections of Zuni berdaches in a letter preserved in the papers of the Indian Rights Association.


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Most interesting is her account of a younger lhamana "in course of training. At the time that Dissette first offered him a regular meal, enrollment in the mission school, and a dollar a week for doing chores and laundry, he had not yet formally entered lhamana status -- that is, he still wore male clothing. But he already manifested several traits typical of Zuni berdaches, especially his enthusiasm for hard work.

As Dissette recalled, "He was so strong and so quick and willing. In another year he had quite an illness it appeared and came to tell me of it, and that he could not work for me any longer. I did not see him at all that winter but in the spring [of ] a camping party which included Dr. Fewkes came to Zuni and hired Quewishty as cook and he came out in full female attire.

Not long after this, Kwiwishdi formed a relationship with a young Zuni man and the couple set up housekeeping. Dissette found Kwiwishdi's behavior incomprehensible. When she asked him through Daisy as interpreter the reason he had adopted women's clothing, he replied that it was because he did women's work.

It has been documented in tribes in every region of North America, with every type of social and economic organization. Kroeber believed that some form of berdache practices, such as cross-dressing and homosexual relations by shamans, existed among the ancient Siberians who began migrating from Asia to North America thirty thousand years ago. In North America, however, a distinction between shamans and berdaches developed that is not apparent in Asia.

At the Zuni village of Hawikku, which was occupied until the time of the Pueblo Revolt, men and women were often buried with implements that indicated their occupations and social roles a practice that continues to this day. Women, for example, were sometimes buried with pottery-making tools or an unfired ball of clay.


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A ball of clay in at least one male burial at Hawikku, therefore, may indicate the presence of a male berdache who engaged in the female craft of pottery-making. Equally suggestive are the baskets included in some male burials, another female craft, and, in one case, the burial of a woman wearing both a dress and a man's dance kilt. This figure has a characteristic hairstyle: one side wound around a board in a whorl, a female style, while the other side was allowed to hang straight in the male style Figure The same arrangement appears on a figure from the kiva murals at Pottery Mound some one hundred miles northeast of Zuni, dated between A.

Like the Zuni berdache kachina, who carries a bow and arrows in one hand and corn in the other, this figure carries a bow and arrows and a basketry plaque -- male and female symbols, respectively Figure 6. Although both sites are in the prehistoric culture area of the Keres Indians, the Zunis' Pueblo neighbors to the east, the similarity of this iconography is suggestive. The earliest American account of Pueblo berdaches was that of William A. Hammond, a former surgeon general of the army, published in While stationed in New Mexico in the early s, Hammond had conducted medical examinations of two men dressed as women, called mujerados , at Acoma and Laguna.

Berdaches have been referred to as hermaphrodites since the time of Columbus. In his census of the Zunis, Cushing recorded We'wha's gender as "hermaphrodite," and Alexander M. As Dissette observed, "While nature might make a blunder once in awhile, she did not make them systematically. The Oxford English Dictionary , for example, while providing the familiar zoological and botanical definitions, also defines hermaphrodite as "an effeminate man or virile woman, a catamite," and "a person or thing in which any two opposite attributes or qualities are combined.

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In the late nineteenth century, slang variants of hermaphrodite -- hermaphy, moff, morph, morphdite, muffie, murfidai, maphro, and so on -- were used by Americans to refer to flamboyant male homosexuals. In , anthropologist J. Walter Fewkes identified a Hopi man who "wore woman's clothes throughout life and performed a woman's duties," as Morphy. Adolph Bandelier, another early investigator of the Pueblo Indians, mentioned berdaches only once in his writings, and then only in his private journal. In , he made note of a "singular being" he had met in an Acoma village named "Mariano Amugereado," adding that there were four amugereados compare mujerado at Acoma and two, at least, at Santo Domingo.

Bandelier was particularly curious about berdache sexual practices. When such propensities show themselves in a man, the tribe dresses him in a woman's dress and treats him kindly but still as a woman. They never marry women, and it is understood that they seldom have any relations with them.

That is, they formed sexual and emotional relationships with non-berdache men, often long term in nature. One of the lhamanas Stevenson knew, for example, was among "the richest men of the village" when he "allied himself" to another man. Some lhamanas, however, appear to have enjoyed more casual relations. In the s, anthropologist Omer Stewart observed a lhamana whose home was the site of frequent male socializing. The Zunis joked about his ability to attract young men to his house. In fact, Stevenson reported rumors that We'wha was a father -- although there is no other evidence to confirm it, and it is more likely that children used parental kinship terms with We'wha out of respect or to acknowledge the role he played in their relationship.

On her first visit to Zuni in , she observed three adult lhamanas and a six-year-old boy considered to be a future lhamana.

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She described two of the adults as masculine. Kasineli had "the facial expression and stature of a man," she wrote, and Tsalatitse walked with a long, heavy stride. The lhamanas were skilled potters, plasterers, and weavers, their presence especially welcomed in households with a shortage of daughters. One, named U'k, was developmentally disabled. The Zunis considered U'k a simpleton because he spoke and acted like a child. Parsons watched him in a kachina dance during the Sha'lako festival. When he fell out of line for a moment, the audience grinned and chuckled.

Two had married men.

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Although Bunzel recorded little on the subject of the lhamana, except to document the berdache kachina, Benedict used the example of Zuni berdaches in her famous book Patterns of Culture. Summarizing We'wha's career, she concluded, "There are obviously several reasons why a person becomes a berdache in Zuni, but whatever the reason, men who have chosen openly to assume women's dress have the same chance as any other persons to establish themselves as functioning members of the society.

Their response is socially recognized. If they have native ability, they can give it scope; if they are weak creatures, they fail in terms of their weakness of character, not in terms of their inversion. She described a woman named Nancy, who was jokingly referred to as "the girl-man," or katsotstsi'. Of the katsotse I saw quite a little, for she worked by the day in our household. She was an unusually competent worker, "a girl I can always depend on," said her employer.

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She had a rather lean, spare build and her gait was comparatively quick and alert. It occurred to me once that she might be a la'mana. Besides she's been too much married for one. Elsewhere, Parsons defined katsotstsi' as mannish,. Such a woman might be married and otherwise fulfill the usual roles of a woman, but at least some Zuni women, like Nancy, formally occupied lhamana status. That female lhamanas were often among those women initiated into the kachina society -- and that they should be the ones, with their male counterparts, to impersonate the berdache kachina -- is not surprising.

Some were unlikable; others lazy or incompetent; still others, like U'k, limited in capacity at birth. It is the exceptional berdache, the one who enjoyed what Benedict called "native ability," that we must turn to in order to map the full scope of this role and its place in Zuni society. An examination of such a case also promises insight into the relationship of individual and social factors in the development of gender identity and sexuality. Thus, we turn to the life of We'wha, Zuni's most famous berdache and perhaps the most renowned "man-woman" in recorded American Indian history.

Guerra, Pre-Columbian Mind , 43; W. Cognates include bardajo , bardaxo Spanish ; bardasso , bardascia Italian ; berdache French ; bardash, berdash, burdash, bardass, bardasso, bardassa, bardachio English.

The English also used bardash to refer to a fringed sash worn by men and considered a sign of effeminacy see listings in Oxford English Dictionary , s. Schlegel on gender complementarity among the Hopis "Male and Female". Smith and Roberts, Zuni Law , Young, "Women, Reproduction, and Religion," Cushing, "Primitive Motherhood," 25, Such a change in the division of labor may well have been contested. Wittfogel and Goldfrank cite examples of myths from Hopi and Zia portraying tension between the sexes, some overtly referring to control of agriculture "Some Aspects of Pueblo Mythology," In the Kan'a:kwe episode, such conflict is suggested in the confrontation between the twin, male War Gods of the Zunis and the warrior woman Cha'kwen 'Oka, who leads the Kan'a:kwe see chapter 6.

Does the presence of the berdache kachina as a go-between in this episode reflect a memory of a role played by berdaches in the resolution of an historical conflict?

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Martin and Voorhies, Female of the Species , , Whiting et al. The researchers found no comparable responses among Anglo populations also tested. Newman, Zuni Dictionary , Kluckhohn, "Expressive Activities," Tedlock, Spoken Word , The tribe does hold a "Miss Zuni" contest every year in conjunction with the Zuni Fair, but, as Young points out, the event bears little resemblance to Anglo beauty contests.