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Two-Spirit Joy (and Pain) Examined in New Doc Being Thunder

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Imagine a world where a parent, upon seeing their young child moving in and out of the gender binary, becomes excited and proud, and when a dad comes home to see little Alejandro wearing his mom’s dress, immediately rings his own parents to tell them the great news, or when Mariposa asks to work construction with her dad, mom beams with pride at her beading circle.

Historically, that was the way Two-Spirit children were honored by many tribes. This beautiful documentary film by Stéphanie Lamorré, shines a light on one such teen.Being Thunder is a new documentary film that focuses on Two-Spirit dancer Sherenté Mishitashin (“Being Thunder”) Harris of the Narragansett tribe (Rhode Island).

They are the dynamic force behind the film as they step and spin their way from competition to competition. We witness this 17-year-old championship eastern war dancer finally allowing themselves to follow a more authentic path, honoring their father and mother as they become a fancy shawl dancer, a dance more commonly performed by those assigned female at birth and female presenting people.

This seemingly non-traditional way not only keeps the beat of the drum but keeps the beat of this community of Native peoples, who challenge gender norms just by existing as their authentic selves.Partially a revitalization of Two-Spirit joy, Being Thunder reminds us that this identity was once welcomed in tribal communities.

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