and propaganda to create a space for himself, and queer identity, in the story of the early
Wild West. In Monkman's version of history, his half-breed drag-queen alter-ego, Miss
Chief Share Eagle Testickle, runs riot on the unspoilt vistas of the 19th century, affirming
her existence and (re)negotiating her queer sexual power. Prior to colonization, queer
identity (known in Native communities as Two-Spirit in honour of the existence of both
the male and female spirit in one body) was widely accepted among many different North
American tribes,2 although this fact has been virtually eliminated from historical
renderings of the period. Through his humorous and provoking interventions, Monkman
reclaims that history and, using Foucault's concept of sexuality as a site of cultural power,
insists on the existence and continued survival of queer Native identities.
In the performance art piece Traveling Gallery and European Male Emporium,
which emerged from the series of paintings entitled Eros and Empire, Monkman
celebrates and utilizes the concept of hybridity to offer an alternative mythology that
transforms the prevailing fixed and static notions of Native sexuality, identity, and
history. Jose Muñoz writes: "Hybrid catches the fragmentary subject formation of people
whose identities traverse different race, sexuality, and gender identifications."3
Identifying as mixed-race/mixed-gender in his work, Monkman effectively embodies and
applies the concept of hybridity as a method for cultural navigation, demonstrating its
transformative power in creating new identities and historical perspectives. Homi Bhabha
argues that by occupying a hybrid space, the colonized can renegotiate the terms of
2 Deschamps, Gilbert. We Are Part of a Tradition: A Guide on Two-Spirited People for First Nations
Communities. Mino-B'maadiziwin Project: www.2spirits.com. Toronto: 2-Spirited People of the First Nations, 1998. This short guide offers the history of the Two-Spirit in a modern context, explaining some of the basic philosophical approaches and the current issues that continue to affect Two-Spirit people.
3 Muñoz, Jose Esteban. Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999, p. 31. Muñoz looks at queer theatre as a process or outcome of what he terms disidentifcation. He describes this as a point of departure, of building, where queer artists build identities and politics in the present and in the future, a concept that fittingly describes Monkman's work.