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News- “Sonny Skyhawk turns the table on Indian cinema”

(Perhaps a topic some may feel is not directly “adoption related” but I at least find it pertinent.)

Go read this article- “Sonny Skyhawk turns the table on Indian cinema“.

No, I am not saying Bastards removed at times forceably from (familial and other) context by governmental intrusion are akin to the intentional campaign and policy that led to what First Nations children and families endured as a form of cultural genocide.

Bastards are a community formed of shared experience of adoption.

Whatever ‘culture’ we lost through the act of State familial reassignment was our original family’s culture, each distinct. Adopted people do not share a common earlier culture that individual acts of reunion restore to us. Reunion brings individual revelations about individual cultures, that for example the boy who grew up in an adoptive family being told he was ‘Irish Catholic’ now finds upon search and reunion his original familial heritage is that of British Protestant. But these familial historical hidden realities do not constitute a shared ‘culture’ that adoptees lost and can somehow regain.

Our ‘shared culture’ is that of the Bastard experience itself (widely varied as that can be, from white picket-fence-land, to crushing abuse at the hands of one’s new ‘family’, from infant adoption to later in life out of foster adoptions, from ‘open adoptions’ to closed adoptions, sealed tighter than a nun’s asshole.) Our commonality is not in a shared lost preexisting identity stripped away from us. Instead it is the act of recontextualization and State assignment of a new identity (while often locking away and carefully guarding our authentic original identities) and ongoing Bastardized status, that becomes the basis of our shared Bastard culture.

(Another way of putting it is that “class Bastard” is not class Bastard due to a shared lost preexisting culture, or that of being a pre-existing “group” of people. Instead, class Bastard is a class of people with commonalities of shared experience, adoption and recontextualization forming the bedrock of our shared culture. We become a “group” of people through the shared experiences.)

First Nations peoples had pre-existing cultures which were targeted for systematic destruction through implementations like the boarding school strategy.

That said, while different, we have things to learn from one another.

It is important that Bastards learn from history. And, separately, that we learn other aspects of how the State has carried out its priorities under the guise of ‘for the sake of the children’, how such has inhumanely affected and decimated other communities.

Our paths may have been different, but the confluence of State interference, and continued interference, and those with religious motivations have altered our lives trajectories and deeply affected both ‘communities’ and I at least, feel we have things to learn from one another.

More than the overly simplistic mere ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’, both Bastards (particularly some foster children later adopted) and children of the reservation ‘boarding schools’ have loss of identity and context, destruction of context via State intervention as a commonality.

At the purely individual level, each community has familiarity with feelings of having been ‘recontextualized’ without any say in our own life’s path, and in each community, some individuals share feelings of reconnection upon ‘finding our way back’ through what was done to us, meeting relatives who have been strangers, or near strangers, little more than dim memories from a time at the edge of memory, foods and languages not what we were raised with, yet inherent to us and our authentic histories.

Adoption pertains to State policy toward womyn and their families- those who are deemed worthy of being ‘entrusted’ with ‘its’ ‘national resource’ (sometimes phrased as a ‘natural resource’) of children, and those who are not.

The reservation ‘boarding schools’ pertains to State policy towards sovereign First Nations and those sitting on what the government has deemed ‘its’ ‘national resource’ of geography and natural resources.

But both had to do with shifting children from being raised by one set of people, into a different ideology- one devoid of context, language, existing culture, and blood relations. Both have to do with what is deemed ‘best for the child’, thus shifting the context for said child from one deemed ‘problematic’ into another deemed ‘valid’. ‘Valid’ in relation to the State and christian religious authorities.

In short, when ‘authentic voices’ (as opposed to ‘Statist’, ‘official’, or ‘Hollywood’ voices) speak, I can only hope that we Bastards, as people who can within ourselves recognize similarities of emotion, and deep empathy- yet not direct experience– will listen, and learn from such ‘storytellers’. We have a lot of listening to do.

But as we listen, it’s important to bear in mind, such is not ‘about us’, we can empathize to the extent we are able, we can recognize within ourselves similarities of emotion and even some events, but to put it as succinctly as possible, in lay language, “Bastards are not Indians”.

(Hint folks, Bastards are not African American slaves either, although that’s another blog post waiting to happen.)

That does not, however, preclude us from understanding the places we do share commonalities and recognizing allies when such is beneficial to both communities- not speaking for one another nor co-opting others for our own purposes, but instead act as genuinely listening allies.

A listening ally, as opposed to a co-opting asshole is a person able to understand that no, their stories are not our stories, their lives are not ‘about us’. We support one another, each coming from our different places, listening to one another as we go forward.

So, two brief paragraphs from the article in question-

“‘Heartsong,” a story about American Indians, has a production and filming schedule for late 2009. Skyhawk is currently seeking tribal nations, corporate or private investors to support this project that will allow an all-too-familiar and disconcerting story about American Indians in boarding schools to come to life before the big screen and be told from an American Indian’s perspective and direction.”


“For nearly a century, American Indian children suffered at the hands of government sanctioned boarding schools on Indian reservations. Run by various religious denominations, American Indian children became the victims of a silent, but deliberate, genocide. Nevertheless, they stood strong and courageous while facing adversity head-on; they retained what their captors could not forcibly remove – their indomitable will and spirit.”

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