The publication of the Journal of Indigenous Social Development is part of a larger process and continuum that brings to light new paradigms and conceptions of Indigenous social work, social welfare and social development practice and research. The process began with the first International Indigenous Voices in Social Work conference in Makaha, Hawaiʻi in 2007. The gathering of Indigenous social workers from regions throughout the Pacific and North America was timely given the mounting interest regionally and globally. This conference reflected how Indigenous social workers were emphasizing the need for incorporating Indigenous ideas and practices into social work.
Indigenous peoples understand how the colonial conceptualization of social work, social welfare, and social development threatens not only Indigenous peoples, but the social well-being of all people and their wholistic relationships with their environments. These threats emphasize ideas and practices based on the separation of people from their histories, cultural understandings, and practices as well as the disconnection of people from their lands, waters, skies, and generations to come. These critical understandings have been expressed in the ongoing International Indigenous Voices in Social Work Conferences that have taken place in Winnipeg, Canada, Darwin, Australia and Alta, Norway. In these conferences, Indigenous peoples working in social work, social welfare, and/or social development have emphasized alternative ways forward.
With a commitment to local knowledges that have intergenerational and/or community bases, Indigenous peoples have focused on the resurgence of their traditional and cultural practices. They have also incorporated ideas and practices from one another’s societies and developed them to fit their needs, aspirations, and visions locally. Despite the ongoing colonial oppression that ranges from insidious impositions to the overt killings of Indigenous people, there is a continuing resurgence of Indigenous peoples’ knowledges, values, practices, and visions by Indigenous peoples active in social work, social welfare, and social development. This resurgence is evident in each issue of this journal.
Individuals from various communities throughout the world have sought out the Journal of Indigenous Social Development as a place to publish their anti-colonial, Indigenist work. While a notable number of the publications have come from individuals in academia, there are also voices from Indigenous authors working in communities and organizations. Overall, the publications reflect the intent of the journal to support the push back on colonialism and the centering of Indigenous philosophies, values, perspectives, and practices for Indigenous peoples.
Our vision is to rally the collective intelligence and passions of scholars, researchers, and practitioners committed to Indigenous social work, social welfare, and social development into a productive, less derivative, more dignified approach to supporting Indigenous communities in their self-determining efforts. Perhaps it may offer a template for something new in the world.
The Journal was originally published through Le’a Publications which was established through a generous gift from Sally Lampson Kanehe (MSW). Her passion for the creation and dissemination of Indigenous knowledge is vital to the profession of social work and the wellbeing of the people to whom she is deeply committed. It had continued through the support of the University of Manitoba, Faculty of Social Work, and the Canada Research Chair program. It is now supported through the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. Moreover, its continuing success is due to the effort and commitment of Indigenous peoples globally as they stand strong for their ways of being and place in the world.
Michael Anthony Hart