AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples
Special Edition on Adoption and Indigenous Citizenship Orders
Edited by Damien Lee and Kahente Horn-Miller
In recent years, questions about identity and belonging have forced their way into both Indigenous and mainstream conversations about what it means to be Indigenous. Most recently in Canada, for example, discussions regarding author Joseph Boyden’s claim to Indigenous identity have dominated public discourse. Some argue that bloodlines are enough for someone to claim Indigeneity while others argue that bloodlines have less to do with belonging than do the political processes Indigenous peoples use to claim individuals on their own terms.
However, adoption inevitably gets brought into such discussions, even when the person at the centre of debate makes no claims to being adopted. The discussion about Boyden’s Indigeneity offers a case in point – while he narrated his Indigeneity as a matter of bloodline and oral history, others tried to demonstrate the fluidity of Indigenous citizenship orders by bringing adoption into the discussion on his claims. In the end, it was announced that he would be adopted by an Anishinaabe family, a development that was met with more questions than answers. As these recent events show, the introduction of adoption into conversations about belonging can cause confusion and anger, while also pointing to the vitality of Indigenous citizenship orders today.
One reason for such confusion is the dearth of scholarly attention devoted to exploring the importance and challenges of adoption in contemporary Indigenous citizenship-making practices. Up to this point, adoption has been discussed in both dubious and celebratory terms. In their 2012 article “Decolonization is not a Metaphor,” for example, Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang rightfully argue that adoption can be used as a settler move to innocence, where it is used as a means to shirk responsibilities to decolonize. Alternatively, Indigenous peoples and communities continue to use adoption to assert their self-determination when determining who belongs with them. Thus, while the latter offers great possibility for better understanding how Indigenous citizenship orders centre and enact self-determination, little writing exists in the way of explaining adoption’s role within Indigenous citizenship governance systems, its limitations within these systems, and ways in which the practice may or may not account for settler colonialism and white supremacy. In this sense, adoption narratives offer opportunities to think through the complexities of Indigenous citizenship governance in the present.
Given the complexities glossed above, we invite article submissions to a special edition of the AlterNative Journal exploring adoption’s significance to and within Indigenous peoples’ citizenship orders. Topics may include but are not limited to:
- the importance of adoption to Indigenous citizenship-making historically and contemporarily;
- the limits of adoption as Indigenous citizenship-making within a settler colonial context;
- the ways in which adoption centres familial sovereignties rather than colonial legislation/actors;
- adoption as “settler move to innocence,” and how Indigenous peoples have addressed such a concern;
- intersectional approaches to understanding both the limits and opportunities of adoption in Indigenous citizenship orders;
- the ways in which adoption brings political rather than merely sexual self-determination to the fore in citizenship discussions; and,
- the role adoption has played/can play in queering Indigenous citizenship orders.
Importantly, we are interested in publishing divergent as well as convergent viewpoints on this topic. We believe that the tensions arising around adoption and belonging within settler colonial contexts bring with them important lessons to be learned.
Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be submitted by August 1, 2017 for review. The authors of those abstracts selected for inclusion will be invited to develop a full article of between 5,000-7,000 words by September 15, 2017. Please note: selected articles will go through two rounds of blind peer review; the first will be coordinated by the guest editors, and the second will be managed by the AlterNative Journal editorial board. Selected authors should therefore prepare for up to two rounds of revisions.
Full articles must conform to the Sixth Edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. More information on AlterNative Journal submission guidelines is available here.
All correspondence, including submissions and questions, should sent by email to: Adoption.AlterNativeJournal@gmail.com
Guest Editor Bios
Dr. Damien Lee engages with the space of Indigenous Studies from the position of a cis-gendered racially-white man who belongs with the Anishinaabeg of the northern shore of Lake Superior. He was adopted as an infant into Fort William First Nation in accordance with Anishinaabe law, and raised as Anishinaabe by his family. Damien is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Indigenous Studies at the University of Saskatchewan. He is also wrapping up his dissertation, which employs Indigenist research methodologies to understand what Anishinaabe citizenship orders look like through adoption narratives within his community.
Dr. Kahente Horn-Miller is Bear Clan and a Kanien’kehá:ka mother from Kahnawà:ke. It is through her motherhood, governance work, community based research and performances rooted in Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) culture and traditions she actively puts Indigenous theory into practice. An Assistant Professor in the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies at Carleton University, she is currently working on a manuscript about (re)conciliation and the Great Law of Peace. This work is centred in the issues of Indigenous sovereignty, identity, and Haudenosaunee philosophy as expressed through visual culture, stories, acts of resistance and social practice.