Indigenist social work practice

Authored by: Michael Anthony Hart

The Routledge Handbook of Social Work Theory

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780415793438
eBook ISBN: 9781315211053
Adobe ISBN:


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Indigenous understandings of helping that inform social work are based in philosophies that concentrate on spirit, life in natural environments, fluxes, patterns and cycles, holism, diversity, relationships, interdependence, community, egalitarianism and respectful individualism. These philosophies result in a practice orientation referred to as indigenist social work. It focuses on individuals coming together as groups or communities to engage with one another; learn from lands, waters and other life; share historical and cultural understandings of the cycles and patterns around them; participate in practices meant to strengthen and harmonize relationships and acknowledge fluxes and cycles. Indigenous peoples recognize that these philosophical understandings and practices have been and are gravely impacted by the ongoing colonial oppression perpetrated against Indigenous peoples. Therefore, the scope of indigenist social work includes a political focus that directly confronts and challenges this colonial oppression and upholds Indigenous self-determination. It is guided by such values as sharing, reciprocity, kindness and honesty and relies on such processes such as storytelling, rituals and ceremonies.

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