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  • Writer's pictureJacob Anderson-Minshall

Two-Spirit Elder Praises Swimming Upstream

I was moved beyond words when

Beverly Little Thunder—a Two-Spirit Native American activist, Standing Rock Lakota Elder, and author of the memoir, One Bead at a Time—called Swimming Upstream “a must read.”

The lifelong activist was involved with the American Indian Movement at its creation, helped found the Two-Spirit Gathering movement, launched the very first women-only SunDance, leads the women-run community Kunsi Keya Tamacoke, and continues to fight for human rights and racial and social justice.

Little Thunder wrote, “Swimming Upstream is hard to put down. I felt like I was watching someone weave an intricate blanket. In the Indigenous communities of this country, Two Spirit people have been largely erased. One of the contributing factors has been the indoctrination of Christian ideology into Indigenous communities. Today, those Two Spirit people are demanding to be seen. This story tells of how the effects of generations of people have had their lives affected and yet survived to continue their roles within their communities. Heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. As a Two Spirit womon, it wretched my heart to hear of the secrets kept by Brooke’s adoptive parents because of fear and mistaken ideas of who Ki was. Traditionally, in many tribes our roles in the community were to take in those children who had no one to care for them. Jacob wove that role skillfully into the story. It is a must read.”

Having this Two-Spirit leader, who I've looked up to for decades, speak so positively about Swimming Upstream and the book's Native American and mixed-race characters is remarkably humbling. Though my wife, and numerous friends are of Native descent, I'm not and it was very important to me that I authentically represent Native American lives.

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