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Virtual Address on Two-Spirit Identity, Ziibiwing Center Educator Highlight Native American Heritage Month


Ferris State University’s Office of Multicultural Student Services and LGBTQ+ Resource Center have collaborated on consecutive days of programming celebrating Native American Heritage Month.

On Wednesday, Nov. 18, the LGBTQ+ Resource Center will welcome a presentation by Jazz McKinney, the interim director of the Grand Rapids Pride Center. Sarah Doherty, the LGBTQ+ Resource Center director, said this previously recorded presentation on Two-Spirit Identity and current issues of Two-Spirit people could inform participants as part of Trans Awareness Week.

“We welcome everyone to our Zoom presentation at 6 p.m., which will be followed by a question-and-answer session,” Doherty said. “As she indicates in her own words, ‘Jazz is a Black, Indigenous (Ojibwe/Cherokee) Two-Spirit individual, making Michigan their home, after being born in Detroit. Jazz has been involved in the mental health field for over seven years, combined with racial justice work and advocacy/activism in the 2-SLGBTQ+ community for over 15 years, with a commitment to highlighting the importance of education, awareness, and involvement to create change. They are passionate about working to decolonize gender roles and identities as well as discussing the impact that harmful gender binaries can cause within our communities.”

A Wisconsin-based tribal member of the Bad River Band of Chippewa Indians will offer a class in spirituality on Thursday, Nov. 19, to further the learning of Ferris students.

The 11 a.m. program hosted by Raymond Cadotte, the Visitor Service Representative of the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways Center in Mount Pleasant, will be available to the Ferris audience via Zoom. Tera Green, an administrative assistant with the Ziibiwing Center, said Cadotte joined their staff in 2012, after 12 years in the U.S. Army, after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.

“Raymond will offer a look at the world through the eyes of the Anishinabe,” Green said. “He has made this presentation to a wide range of groups, including K-12 school systems, colleges and international student groups. His vast knowledge and personal experiences in spirituality should be valuable to all who take part that day.”

Darnell Lewis, assistant director of the Office of Multicultural Student Services, said Cadotte will offer participants the guiding principles of Living in Balance, the Anishinabe Creation Story, their language, and Lifeway practices.

“The Seven Grandfather teachings offer the opportunity to live a balanced life,” Lewis said. “These beliefs, associated stories and teachings can offer an important perspective on how to best live and contribute to society.”