Lowie's "One surviving berdache," 1907-12

In a discussion of the Social Life of the Crow Indians, based on research dating to 1907-12, Lowie records:

At present there is but one surviving berdache, who lives in the Bighorn District. I saw him once at Lodge Grass. He is probably over fifty years of age, stands 5 ft. 7 inches, and is of a large build. According to several informants, former agents have repeatedly tried to make him don male clothes, but the other Indians themselves protested against this, saying that it was against his nature.

Henry Russell [a resident of the Crow Reservation, and Lowie's interpreter] told me that this berdache once fought valiantly in an encounter with the Sioux. He has the reputation of being very accomplished in feminine crafts.

It is impossible to detect a berdache at birth, but as he grows up his weak voice distinguishes him from other boys. Berdaches naturally associate with girls and pretend to have sweethearts among the men.[1]


Jonathan Ned Katz, Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (NY: Crowell, 1976) pg. 319.

  1. Robert H. Lowie, "Social Life of the Crow Indians," Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, vol. 9, part 2 (1912), p. 226.