We are Anthony Hudson and Felix Furby, two Grand Ronde people who are also queer. We found each other while searching for what being queer and Grand Ronde means for us culturally. Along the way, we also found Shimkhin—or she found us.
Shimkhin (1821-1904), pronounced “Shim-hun” or “Shum-hin,” (known alternatively as Shumkhi, shəmxi, čimkin, šə’mxn, qa’naťamax, and Nancy Jack), was a greatly respected Atfalati (Tualatin) Kalapuya healer living on the Grand Ronde Reservation. Although terms like transfeminine or Two Spirit are nontraditional words used to name Indigiqueer people today, Shimkhin and the rest of our ancestors most likely didn’t have or even need specific language to distinguish queer people from everyone else. In their world, we are traditional, sacred, and loved. Some people envision a future where we have decolonized and reclaimed traditions, but they do not include their queer relatives because they believe we don’t belong. Shimkhin’s life and our stories show that queerness is not new or exclusive to today.
We exist in every generation and every era. The first thing settlers attacked was gender—caging it inside a Eurocentric binary was an early method for assimilation. To unlearn this and embrace our traditional gender spectrum is a means for cultural revitalization and decolonization, for all of us, whether straight or queer, trans or cisgender. In presenting this research, drawn from 19th and early 20th-century ethnolinguistic accounts recorded on the Reservation—long available only to settler academics and researchers—we hope to show a vision for our future rooted in our past. We are honored to present Shimkhin’s story to teach you about our powerful ancestor, to subvert narratives of suffering, and to undo the tactics of assimilation that exclude us. Looking to the future, we desire to show not only an integrated and thriving trans ancestor but also the contributions of our living Two Spirit and Indigiqueer community members to our cultures today.