Simms' "He compelled these people to wear men's clothing," 1902

Research dating to 1902 is the basis for a note by S. C. Simms on "Crow Indian Hermaphrodites" in the 1903 American Anthropologist.

During a visit last year to the Crow reservation, in the interest of the Field Columbian Museum, I was informed that there were three hermaphrodites in the Crow tribe, one living at Pryor, one in the Big Horn district, and one in Black Lodge district. These persons are usually spoken of as "she," and as having the largest and best appointed tipis; they are also generally considered to be experts with the needle and the most efficient cooks in the tribe, and they are highly regarded for their many charitable acts.

On one occasion, while making a canvass of the tipis of the Pryor district, I came upon an individual who, I was told, was "half man and half woman." Shortly afterward the' person came out dressed in woman's attire, consisting of a loose calico frock fitted in at the waist with a profusely beaded strap, and a pair of moccasins. This person was almost gigantic in stature, but was decidedly effeminate in voice and manner. I was told that, when very young, these persons manifested a decided preference for things pertaining to female duties, yet were compelled by their parents to wear boys' attire; as soon as they passed out of the jurisdiction of their parents, however, they invariably donned women's clothes.

A few years ago an Indian agent endeavored to compel these people, under threat of punishment, to wear men's clothing, but his efforts were unsuccessful.[1]


Jonathan Ned Katz, Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (NY: Crowell, 1976) pg. 318-319.

  1. S. C. Simms, "Crow Indian Hermaphrodites," American Anthropologist, new Ser., vor. 5 (1903), p. 580-81. Also see part omitted. In his anthropological report on "The Arapaho," published in 1902, A. L. Kroeber mentions "Berdaches" in that tribe, and among the Cheyenne, Sioux, Omaha, Ute, and "many" other tribes. An Arapaho story of a female who dressed and lived as a man among the Sioux is-mentioned in passing (Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, vol. 18 [1902], p. 19-20).' On the basis of information obtained in 1904-09, James A. Teit reports on a few male "berdaches" among "The Salishan Tribes of the Western Plateau" (ed. Frank Boas, Forty-fifth Annual Report, 1927-28, U.S. Bureau oj American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution [Washington, D.C.: Govt. Ptg. Ofc., 1930], p. 292, 384). In a report published in 1905, Roland B. Dixon says that the northern Maidu Indians "deny that there were ever any herdaches, or men-women among them. They were present in considerable numbers among the Achoma'wi, however, to the north" ("The Northern Maidu," Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, vol. 17 [May 1905, p. 241).