In various Native American tribes, a berdache was a man who dressed and lived entirely as a woman
, fulfiling that cultural role
within the tribe. In the native language, he was sometimes referred to as a "would-be woman," and was sometimes thought of as a third or separate sex. Common among the tribes of the Americas, these men-women had both social and religious powers. They might be givers of sacred name
s; first to strike the sun-dance pole; leaders of ritual dances; good luck bringers to war parties; visionaries
and predictors of the future
; artisans in beadwork, quillwork, hide-tanning and making clothing; creators and singers of songs
. Understood as following a sacred vision
by most Indians, they were not well-tolerated by whites. They persist today, discreetly.