Karen Vigneault

Bridge Builder
2008

Karen Vigneault is a Kumeyaay twin-spirit (lesbian). She educates U.S. and Mexican indigenous peoples about their authentic traditions and the extraordinary, respected, historic role twin-spirit people have held in indigenous societies. As a child, she was refused attendance at public schools, since she did not fit into the white/black categories of segregation. Eventually admitted to a Catholic school, she became passionate about rediscovering traditional Kumeyaay practices. Vigneault's work to raise awareness both within the Kumeyaay Nation and among other indigenous peoples has earned honors and awards.

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Karen also works with the Peace and Dignity Project at an indigenous children's shelter in Tecate, Mexico, cultivating Kumeyaay traditions, language, and culture while protecting children from the hardships of orphanages. First in her family to earn a degree, she received her Library and Information Sciences M.A. in 2008. As a member of the American Indian Library Association, she raises awareness among peers about indigenous literature and strives to increase the number of appropriate texts offered in libraries.