Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Laurel Bidwell


Social Work


The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) is an important piece of legislation that governs the removal of Native American children from their families. Although many practitioners from child welfare, law, the juvenile justice system, and tribal governments may be familiar with the act, it is unclear whether there is enough support and training around culturally responsive services (National Indian Child Welfare Association, 2015). Providing a historical context as to why ICWA is important for all Child Welfare workers will strengthen professionals’ cultural competency in direct practice and improve systematic interventions (Lucerro & Bussey, 2012; Lawrence, Zuckerman, Smith, & Liu, 2012). This study explores culturally responsive practice through a lens of historical trauma specifically with Native Americans. This research attempts to bridge Western research and Indigenous research methodologies in order to engage in a meaningful dialogue about the complexities of child welfare practice with Native American children and families. Two Native American elders practicing in the child welfare system were interviewed in order to better understand what Indian child welfare workers need to know in order to provide culturally responsive services? The findings that emerged from this study suggest that one may need to de-colonize the dominant belief system to be culturally humble and meet Native Americans where they truly are. The findings of the study further previous research suggesting that social workers need to be provided specialized training regarding the unique history of Native Americans and the impact of historical trauma on the loss of cultural identity.

Included in

Social Work Commons