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Prism

Two-Spirit Native American Overcame Health Issues to Become Beloved Spirit Worker

Matthew DeRoche was Blackfeet from Heart Butte, Montana where he lived with his mother and sisters on the Blackfeet reservation. In 2007, they moved north on the reservation to Browning to be closer to Indian Health Care. Matthew became disabled by diabetes which left him blind, an amputee and wheelchair dependent. He said his blindness brought him closer to the Great Spirit. Matthew's health didn’t hold him back from being involved in Indian Country - With the help of family and friends Matthew regularly conducted traditional spiritual and healing ceremonies for family, friends, and his community. He embraced all people and religions while routinely engaging in healthy discussion of spirituality. 

Matthew was Two-Spirit. Two-Spirit is the contemporary name of traditional Native American gender recognition that identifies both the feminine spirit and the masculine spirit living in the same body; sort of a third gender. Today many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender natives identify themselves as Two-Spirit. Previous to the colonization of the Americas, Two-Spirit natives held important roles in many tribes: chiefs, warriors, guides, medicine persons, etcetera. Matthew was regularly asked to conduct ceremonies for Two-Spirit Society gatherings throughout the nation. Matthew unexpectedly died March 6, 2009 as a result of his health conditions. He was only 36. 

To learn more, please visit Russell Daniels' website.

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