The publication of the Journal of Indigenous Social Development is a part of a larger process and continuum that brings to light new paradigms and conceptions of social welfare practice and research. The process began with the first Indigenous 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. Global climactic change and the threat of natural disasters, growing interest in ethnoecology and biomedical solutions, and spiritual depravity in the industrialized world drive this growing interest. The profession is finally coming to terms with the non-viability of traditional social work practice across cultures and the need to find or develop fundamentally different approaches to human healing and wellbeing.
Western epistemology has long been the dominant source for finding social solutions. It is a reflection of a history of colonial imposition that transformed into a post-modern emphasis on the universality of human behavior. As a result, localized practices drawn from alternative notions of human process and psyche have been largely ignored and with unconfirmed effectiveness.
There is immense power and control associated with normalized knowledge. To make room for indigenous voices in social welfare, the academic/research complex will have to be reconsidered. The publication of this journal offers a forum for voices that have not been heard and a starting point for shifting schools of thought. We are hoping that out of this effort grows a different sense of what has been, thus potentiating new visions of what might be. Our vision is to rally the collective intelligence and passions of scholars committed to indigenous social work into a productive, less derivative, more dignified approach to enabling and empowering indigenous communities. Perhaps it could be a template for something new in the world.
The Journal is published through Le’a Publications which was established through a generous gift from Sally Lampson Kanehe. 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.
Jon K. Matsuoka
Paula A. T. Morelli