Colville Tribes of Washington Recognize Same-Sex Marriage

The Colville Tribes this week became the fourth Native American tribe to recognize same-sex marriage. They are located in northeast Washington state, and voted for its recognition on Thursday.

The Wenatchee World reports:

Council Chairman Michael Finley said tribes have always known that gay people — who they call Two-Spirited Peoples — have a special place in their society.

Finley said tribal culture has long recognized that some people are born a certain gender, and are drawn to people of the same gender. “They’ve always been accepted,” he said. Now, tribal law will also treat them equally and with respect, he said.

He said there were no objections to the amendment recognizing gay marriage when the final council vote was taken, but not all 14 council members were present.

The provision affects over 9,360 members who are descendants of 12 different tribes and are members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colvile Reservation.

Same-sex marriage is also legal within the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa in Michigan, the Suquamish tribe in Washington state, and the Coquille tribe in Oregon.


  1. says

    It is interesting what names or descriptions pre-Christian tribes/peoples had for same sex attraction.
    “Two Spirited People” is a very cool one.

    In the Celtic language, Gaelige or Gaelic, males of same sex attraction were called “Na Buachailli Bana” – ‘the White or Shining Boys’…I know of no word for females same sex attraction.

    What is truly remarkable is that these terms were not pejorative and were simple acknowledgements that same sex attraction was part of the society.

    Christianity brought the condemnation and the guilt.

  2. ratbastard says


    Yes it did. And most of our attitudes towards sexuality even today, including terms like ‘homosexual’, come from the very rigid and repressed Victorian era. Many laws around the world, especially in former Brit colonies, are written with words such as ‘buggery’, etc., A prostitute [female or male] in Massachusetts is referred to as a common nightwalker, which dates from the 17th-18th century when it was a Brit colony.

  3. Gregory In Seattle says

    JackFknTwist – Two Spirit more correctly describes people that, today, would be considered transgender: a two-spirit person born as a man would take up the clothes and social role of a woman and marry a man, while a two-spirit person born as a woman would take up the clothes and social role of a man and marry a woman. They were much sought out as spouses, presumably because there were plenty of people with same-sex attraction who did not identify as two-spirit.

  4. Hagatha says

    “It is interesting what names or descriptions pre-Christian tribes/peoples had for same sex attraction.”

    You mean “pre-jewish”? That’s a very regional and narrow analysis. The Jews believed that the entire material of reproduction was in the male ejaculate. They regarded masturbation and homosexuality as a waste of a potential human. They were very much intent on a population increase of Israel so that they would have enough people to fend off the Babylonians and various other conquerors.

    It’s also pretty clear that the Jews viewed homosexuality as foreign. In fact, it might have been genetically rare or not present at the time. This would make it appear to be a practice of foreigners, and we all know that can’t be good especially when those foreigners have conquered you and are ruling you.

  5. ratbastard says


    You’re right. Christianity is of course an Abrahamic religion, an off-shoot of Judaism. And the early Hebrews were obsessed with increasing their numbers so condemned homosexual activity. They have since to a degree reformed their attitudes [some Jews].

    And it can be construed that what we call homosexuality or bisexuality was commonplace enough that they felt a need to discuss it.

  6. TheSeer says

    I think “two-spirits” is a cool and accurate term. It is cool because it leaves sexuality in the realm of privacy (where it belongs imo) and it is accurate because it tells that sexuality is not the only difference between gay and straight people.

  7. DB says

    ‘Two-spirit’ was not a term ever applied to gay people. It was applied to heterosexual transgender people. Gay people, as we now know, are no different than heterosexuals except in the sex of the person they marry. Gay men have only one ‘spirit’, the spirit of a man which is in no way different than the spirit of heterosexual men. ‘Two-spirit’, if applied to gay people, would be an extremely inaccurate and homophobic term based on a false stereotype that gay men are somehow less traditionally masculine than heterosexual men.

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