Aiyanna Maracle (1950 - 2016),was a Haudenosaunee, trans, multi-disciplinary artist, scholar, educator, story-crafter and storyteller. Maracle was actively involved in the merging of Ogwehoweh art and culture into the Euro-centric world and consciousness. For 20+ years she sought that same inclusion for herself and other gender-variant folks by offering an alternate framework to the prevalent Euro-centric view of gender.
“There is no mirror for who I am. From necessity I became the mirror for all the younger ones.”
Describing herself in her article “A Journey in Gender” as a “transformed woman who loves women,” Aiyyana’s work steered people towards a decolonized understanding of gender and sexuality. Through her work she argued that in most traditional Indigenous cultures gender identifications fall outside the strict confines of the gender binary and are recognized as both socially and spiritually integral to the culture. Her one-woman show, Chronicle of a Transformed Woman, detailed her use of traditional medicine rituals for transitioning genders while struggling under colonial rule.
Aiyyana’s work, which reflected her various transformations in relation to her ongoing process of decolonization, received numerous honours and recognitions. She’s believed to be the first Indigenous person to be awarded the John Hirsch Prize, a national award for the most artistically exciting new director in Canadian theatre (1997). In addition to performing across Ontario and Chippewa territory, in 1998 she exhibited an installation and a performance piece at the Second International Transgendered Art Festival in England. She is the author of the book, Chronicle of a Transformed Woman (2000), and many articles.
Today, the University of Victoria's Transgender Archives holds a collection of her legacy and history. Maracle's contributions to Indigenous art and the lives of trans women is significant and she remains a trailblazer in the history of our community.
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