Pacific Northwest LGBT History Water-Sitting Grizzly crossed many barriers, became Gone to the Spirits 1800's Female Kutenai Indian had several wives By Joyce Crosby The first written historical record of Water-Sitting Grizzly, a Kutenai Indian woman who later took on traditional men's roles and traveled with a series of wives, occurs in an 1808 journal entry by North West Company explorer and fur trader David Thompson. She was then known as Madame Boisvard, a "slave-wife" to Thompson's servant a Canadian named Boisvard. While they were living at a fur trading post, probably Kootenai House, Thompson felt he had no choice but to return the strong willed young woman to her Kutenai people presumably because of promiscuity. However, citing traditional oral history handed down from generation to generation, Kutenai elders stated that Water-Sitting Grizzly a written message to John Stewart at become unhappy with her marriage Fort Estekatadene on the Frazier River soon after its inception and wanted to in British Columbia. Trappers had not return home. Thompson wrote in his yet explored the area but it was known journal that Madam Boisvard, "became to be inhabited by several unfriendly so common that I had to send her to tribes. It is debated whether the women her relations; as all the Indian men are were forced to turn back or simply lost married, a courtesan is neglected by their way, but they traveled down the the men and hated by the women." Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. When she returned to her tribe, In July 1811 the Trappers and furnear present day Bonners Ferry, Idaho, traders at Fort Astoria at the mouth the Kutenai woman explained to them of the Columbia River were surprised that her husband had by the arrival of what used supernatural appeared to be a young powers to perform Kootenai Indian man an operation that and his wife, who Upon her return changed her sex had in their care a Water-Sitting during her time with written message from Grizzly proclaimed, the trappers. Upon Spokane House. When "I am a man now!" her return WaterDavid Thompson, and selected Sitting Grizzly who happened to be the male name proclaimed, "I am at the trading post, Kauxuma Nupika or a man now!" and recognized Gone Gone to the Spirits. selected the male to the Spirits as She wore men's name Kauxuma Madame Boisvard and attire, wielded men's Nupika or Gone to informed his hosts at weapons, adopted the Spirits. She wore Fort Astoria that the masculine roles men's attire, wielded messenger was really within her tribe and men's weapons, a woman. The trappers adopted masculine took another woman and traders were not roles within her tribe only shocked that for her wife. and took another Gone to the Spirits was woman for her wife. woman and had a wife; they were amazed that In July 1809 she had survived the arduous 400-mile David Thompson came across Gone journey. However, the trappers soon to the Spirits, the future Waterrealized that the women would make Sitting Grizzly, at Rainy Lake near excellent guides to the interior lands. the Columbia River. "She had set In an ethno-history article by Claude E. herself up for a prophetess," he wrote, Schaffer she is described as "assuming "and gradually had gained, by her the roles of courier, guide, prophetess, shrewdness, some influence among the and warrior." natives as a dreamer, and expounder of dreams. She recollected me before Employed as guides, Gone to the I did her, and gave a haughty look of Spirits and her wife left Fort Astoria for defiance, as much to say, I am now out the interior on July 22, 1811 with a party of your power." that included David Thompson and David Stuart. Apparently on the way to Later, Finan McDonald who was in the mouth of the Columbia River, Gone charge of Spokane House, a trading post to the Spirits had encountered Chinook on the Spokane River, objected to Gone elders and prophesized about diseases to the Spirits' presence at the post. So and other calamities that would befall to remove her, McDonald hired Gone their villages. When the party came to the Spirits and her wife to courier and waited for her. He saw her crossing the stream nude and knew that her sex had not been changed. When Gone to the Spirits saw him she crouched down in the water as if her foot was caught between two rocks. That night in camp the lead warrior asked if anyone wanted to change his name. Gone to the Spirits announced that since she had injured her ankle and been forced to sit down in the stream, and because her brother was a witness to this, she selected the name Qanqon Kamek Klaula or WaterSitting Grizzly. Upon returning to the main Kutenai camp Water-Sitting Grizzly married a woman from the area of present day upon these Chinook villages the people Creston B.C. When her brother heard were upset about Gone to the Spirits' Water-Sitting Grizzly quarreling with predictions and threatened her. David her new wife, he carried out a threat Thompson was able to protect his guide and told the entire camp that his sister by assuring the Lower Columbia tribes was a woman. that their future would be prosperous. Water-Sitting Grizzly, is mentioned At the confluence of the Snake in the 1825 journal of a trader at and Columbia Rivers the party split; Flathead Post in Montana. John Work with Stuart's party lead by Gone to the described her as, "a courier, a guide, a Spirits continuing up the Columbia prophet, a warrior, a peace mediator, she and Okanogan Rivers to establish Fort often dressed as a man and had a wife." Okanogan. When the two women William Gray, a protestant missionary, continued, on their who was traveling own, toward Fort with Flathead trader Estekatadene in Francis Ermatinger, British Columbia, mentions the After her death the future WaterKootenai woman in the Kutenai believed Sitting Grizzly his journal twelve that Water-Sitting was attacked and years later in 1837. Grizzly, also known as suffered a chest A Flathead party had the manlike-woman wound. Still she been surrounded by in her later years, had recovered enough Blackfeet. Watersupernatural powers to deliver the Sitting Grizzly tried because she was message to John to mediate a peaceful skillful in traditionally Stewart and return agreement between male roles. The history with a reply. the tribes. But when of Water-Sitting It was common it seemed hopeless, Grizzly is still passed for Kutenai and knowing she down through oral people to change would be killed, storytelling traditions their names after Water-Sitting significant events among Kutenai tribes. Grizzly delayed in their lives. The negotiations with the Kutenai woman Blackfeet allowing had been called the members of her `lodge pole woman' as a child, Madame adopted Flathead tribe to escape to Boisvard while living with David Fort Hall. Thompson's servant, and Gone to the After her death the Kutenai Spirits upon her return to her tribe. believed that Water-Sitting Grizzly, According to Schaeffer's article Gone also known as the manlike-woman in to the Spirits, along with her brother, her later years had supernatural powers volunteered to go on an unsuccessful because she was skillful in traditionally raid, to steal horses, with other Kutenai male roles. The history of Water-Sitting warriors. On the return trip whenever Grizzly is still passed down through oral they came to a stream the raiders storytelling traditions among Kutenai removed their clothing and crossed tribes. Though historical documents the stream together redressing on the don't give us a label, transgender or other side. Gone to the Spirits always lesbian, for Water-Sitting Grizzly, followed at a distance so she could it is important that this person be cross the stream alone then caught remembered as one of our LGBT up with the party later. After crossing ancestors as well. several streams in this manner Gone to the Spirit's brother became suspicious September 1, 007 | Q View Northwest - Spokane Edition | Page