A photographer shares the light of LGBTQ+ Native Americans in South Dakota
For her Two-Spirit Lakota project, Magdalena Wosinska photographed LGBTQ+ members of the Oglala Lakota tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
“I was really wanting to connect with understanding more of what goes on in Pine Ridge and its Two-Spirit community,” Wosinska says. “Oftentimes, people go there to extract and show the harsh ways of living and poverty there. I wanted to go and follow the light of the Two-Spirit community and show the beauty in community they had to offer to one another.”
Photography by Magdalena Wosinska
This piece initially ran in Out Traveler print issue Summer 2022.
Wosinska was born in Poland, then her family moved to Phoenix when she was 9, where she grew up skateboarding. She picked up a camera in her teens and began documenting her life and friends.
Candi Brings Plenty, an activist who successfully lobbied for South Dakota’s hate crime protection bill to include Native American Two-Spirit people
“Being a photographer for me is an honor,” she says. “To capture people’s lives and stories to then share with the world, and for us all to learn from those stories and be inspired by them. Growing up in post-WWII communist Poland with a father that always struggled/hid his sexuality, often drew me to hearing other stories like his and bringing them to light with beauty.”
Entrance to Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota’s Badlands
At 19, Wosinska moved to Los Angeles to photograph skate culture there. She played in a metal band for nearly a decade and continued capturing her milieu on film. She’s worked for big brands like American Express, Harley-Davidson, AirBnB, and Wrangler. But she’s also continued to document outsider communities, including Compton’s Black cowboys and trans skate crews. “I love documenting life for what it really is,” she says.
Nicole Big Crow (left), and her girlfriend, Ashley Colhoff
Asked what she learned from her Two-Spirit Lakota project, Wosinska says, “Too much to answer in this interview. We would need a weekend for that. That trip changed my life.”
An unnamed Two-Spirit Lakota tribal member in a field at night.
Quoted in Indian Country Today, representatives of Nagi Nunpa Hocaka (the Two-Spirit Circle, a space for LGBTQ+ youth in Pine Ridge), acknowledged that the reservation isn’t always a safe place for LGBTQ+ people.
Some of Wosinska’s subjects chose to stay anonymous.
Two unnamed Two-Spirt Lakota friends next to a highway on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation
This piece initially ran in the Summer 2022 print issue. Out Traveler is available on newsstands.