Indigenous Artist Spotlight: Prestin Thotin-awasis
June is PRIDE month, and we are delighted and honored to spotlight the very talented, Prestin Thotin-awasis. Read on to learn more about their inspiration, artistic style, accomplishments and where you can go to support/purchase/commission their work!
Name: Prestin Thotin-awasis
Preferred pronouns: He/They
Please introduce yourself:
Tanisi nitotemak! Prestin Thotin-awasis nitisithikason.
Hello my friends! My name is Prestin Thotin-awasis.
I am a proud Nēhiyaw-Metis Two-Spirit. My voice and advocacy is a product of being raised by a strong matriarch. It is also heavily influenced by the women, femmes, queers and 2S kin in my life. I would like to thank them first and foremost before sharing anything about myself as I am nothing but an extension of their generosity, knowledge, patience and love.
I share 2S LGBTQ+ perspectives in hopes that it uplifts and validates other Indigenous 2S LGBTQ+ kin, youth, feelings, voices and perspectives. Our lives are a living testament to the brilliance and remarkable stamina of the traditional roles and places that live on inside of us because they refuse to be forgotten.
Promoting wellness and advocating for 2S LGBTQ+ equity and rights has become much of my professional and personal life. I also enjoy writing poetry and think pieces centered around harm reduction, sobriety, identity, healing and everything in between.
Q: What does being a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community mean to you?
A: Being Two-Spirit (2S) means absolutely everything to me. I fought with this earlier in my life because I thought I dont want to be known as “just” 2S. But as I gained more knowledge and understanding about who I am and what the traditional roles are for 2S and other gender diverse people, I started to understand that being 2S is exactly who I am. It is how I see the world, how I think and how I exist, so it is not a part of me, it is me. To understand and see the world differently is a gift that I am honoured to have been chosen to carry.
Q: How has it shaped your art?
A: It has impacted and shaped my art significantly. I was unable to articulate and feel confident in my art until I fully embraced all aspects of who I am as a 2S.
Q: What is your favorite medium?
A: Definitely poetry. I love being able to convey a story, a feeling, a vibration through a few sentences.
Q: Who/what inspires you, your art?
A: My journey has been inspired by so many people and experiences. Seeing 2S youth live so authentically is very inspiring to me, especially when they are supported by their communities. It gives me so much hope and energy.
Q: What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of?
A: Having the courage to live my life authentically (come out) was an empowering and spiritual experience. I am very proud of the little rez road I have created for myself. Overall, healing will continue to be my biggest ongoing accomplishment.
Q: 2022-2032 is the official Decade of Indigenous Languages, what is your relationship with language? How has it shaped you?
A: My relationship with language has been very important and deeply personal. I was very fortunate to grow up around the language but it was not a priority and I didn't understand the importance at the time so I am still learning. Language revitalization takes tremendous dedication, time and requires a lot of patience. I know one day I will be able to confidently speak it as it still lives in me. Though my language journey has been challenging, it has shaped the way I understand myself. Many Indigenous languages are able to validate 2S and other gender diverse identities. This is very important as it helps us understand ourselves, our roles and what it means to be 2S.
Q: What does PRIDE represent to you?
A: The amazing Joshua Whitehead beautifully articulated on twitter how I also feel this year during PRIDE and I would like to share what he said as it resonates so deeply:
“During June, Pride Month and National Indiginous History Month, I am left thinking of how what we now call queerness within Indigeneity supersedes; & that the history of queerness on turtle island arcs so much further beyond Stonewall and 1492. As we honour and remember our queer ancestors, Marsha P Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Harvey Milk, etc., (all of whom are so very important to queer life, vibrancy, and political embodiments) I too want you to remember that Two-Spirit (and what we now call Indigiqueer) activists, politicians, artists and people are as much worthy of remembrance and honouring as these folks are. Our queer history as Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer folks has a long rooted archive that allowed our ancestors to see us here, now, in whatever capacities we hereby exist and live within. & I don't mean this in a way for settler sexualities to co-opt or reanimate 2S ancestors, like We’wha so often is during Pride Month to legitimize settler queerness upon these lands, but truly honouring and giving love to those who defied and outcried against the targeting of 2S since the docking of power on these lands, and those who lived and breathed and existed ceremonially and lovingly prior too. My love this month goes to 2S, Indigiqueer, and trans Afro-Indigenous ancestors who crafted a path for me to be in the now: thank you my kin.”
Where can people buy your art/follow & support you?
People can follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Tiktok at: Prestomanifest0