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 a Catholic school admitted her. As a result, she became passionate about rediscovering traditional Kumeyaay practices. Vigneault raises awareness both within the Kumeyaay Nation and among other Indigenous peoples and has received honors and awards for her work.
She 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, this month she received her Library and Information Sciences M.A. As a member of the American Indian Library Association, she raises awareness among peers about Indigenous literature and strives to increase the number of accurate texts offered in libraries.