Indigenous Events at the SSWR Conference

American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Global Indigenous (AIANNH Indigenous) Cluster

For its 2018 annual conference, the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) established the American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Global Indigenous Populations Cluster to be facilitated by Dr. Tessa Evans-Campbell, Dr. Mike Spencer, and Dr. Karina Walters. As SSWR Vice President and conference coordinator for SSWR this year, Dr. Walters has been working to incorporate themes consistent with our cluster, including an indigenous opening to honor our Opening Plenary speaker, Dr. Linda Tuhiwai Smith of the University of Waikato and author of the acclaimed book, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. The three invited symposia for this year’s conference titled, The Grandest of Challenges: Unearthing the Deep Roots of Social Problems, also features AIANNH indigenous themes and speakers.

We would like to also thank all of you who submitted abstracts to our cluster and invite you to participate in the planning of the indigenous opening, SIG meeting, or other leadership opportunities within the cluster. We hope that these activities will offer an opportunity to meet and exchange with other indigenous researchers and those who work on behalf of indigenous communities. Please contact any of us if you would like to be involved. We also invite you to share this information with anyone who may be interested.


Indigenous Opening and Opening Plenary Session

Thursday, January 11, 2018: 5:00 PM-6:40 PM

Independence BR Salons D/E (ML 4) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)



Linda Tuhiwai Smith, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand/Aotearoa



AIANNH (Indigenous) Special Interest Group (SIG)

Saturday, January 13, 2018: 12:30 PM-1:30 PM

Chinatown (ML 3) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC).



Indigenous Cluster Oral Presentations

Thursday, January 11, 2018: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM

Treasury (ML 4) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)


The Added Value of Traditional Native Hawaiian Healers in Primary Care
Michael Spencer, PhD, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; Mary Oneha, PhD, Waimanalo Health Center; Leina’ala Bright, MA, Waimanalo Health Center

A Trail of Transformation: The Meaning of Place in Health for Indigenous Women
Angela Fernandez, MSW, LCSW, University of Washington

Environmental Changes, Indigenous Experiences, and Health Outcomes
Assistant Professor Billiot, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Understanding and Decolonizing Maternal Health in Ethiopia through Indigenous Methodologies
Aissetu Ibrahima, PhD, Miami University of Ohio

Culture Matters: The Protective Roles of Traditional Practices in the Relationship between Historical Trauma and Alcohol Use
Ciwang Teyra, MSW, University of Washington



Indigenous Cluster Roundtable  

Friday, January 12, 2018: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM

Independence BR B (ML 4) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)


Toward a Research and Practice Model for Empowering Child Welfare-Involved Native Families: Moving Beyond Icwa (Independence BR B (ML 4)) 

Speakers/Presenters: Claudette Grinnell-Davis, PhD , Melanie Sage, PhD , Bryn King, PhD and Dallas Pettigrew, MSW 



Poster Presentations All sessions held at the Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)


Thursday, January 11, 2018: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM

Culturally-Informed Interventions for Substance Abuse Among Indigenous Youth: A Systematic Review
Jessica Liddell, MSW/MPH, Tulane University; Catherine Burnette, PhD, Tulane University


Thursday, January 11, 2018: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM

Factors Associated with American Indian Mental Health Service Use in Comparison with White Older Adults
Heehyul Moon, PHD, University of Louisville; Soonhee Roh, PhD, University of South Dakota; Yeon-Shim Lee, PhD, San Francisco State University


Friday, January 12, 2018: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM

Indigenous Clients’ Perspectives on Delegated Child Protective Services
Amanda Neufeld, MSW, University of British Columbia – Okanagan; Crystal Mundy, MA, University of British Columbia – Okanagan; Susan J. Wells, PhD, University of British Columbia – Okanagan


Friday, January 12, 2018: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM

Resilience within Indigenous Transition Age Foster Youth
Sumer Al-Ahdali, University of Kansas; Nancy Jo Kepple, PhD, University of Kansas

American Indian child welfare, indigenous family and child wellbeing


Post-Separation Coparenting and Its Effect on Stepfamily Quality Among American Indian Stepfamilies
Jordan Bybee, MSW, Brigham Young University; Nathan Porter, MSW, Brigham Young University


Friday, January 12, 2018: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM

Trauma Experiences of Urban American Indian Parents/Caregivers Involved with Child Welfare Systems
Nancy M. Lucero, PhD, University of Denver; Shauna Rienks, PhD, University of Denver


Friday, January 12, 2018: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM

An Age-Friendly Community with Intergenerational Dynamics
KyongWeon Lee, MSW, Ohio State University


Friday, January 12, 2018: 5:15 PM-6:45 PM

Historical Trauma, Discrimination, and Alcohol Use Among Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan
Ciwang Teyra, MSW, University of Washington


Saturday, January 13, 2018: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM

A Suicide Prevention Approach in an Urban American Indian Community: Gatekeeper Trainings for Community Members and Providers of Service
Sandra Momper, PhD, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; Rachel Burrage, MSW, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor


Saturday, January 13, 2018: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM

Culturally Relevant Risk and Protective Factors Related to Depression Among U.S. Indigenous Peoples: Why Historical Oppression and Family Resilience Matter
Catherine Burnette, PhD, Tulane University #8906; Lynette M. Renner, PhD, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; Charles Figley, PhD, Tulane University


Sunday, January 14, 2018: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM

The Impact of ‘compassionate Disruption’ Policies on Indigenous Populations: The Criminalization of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Houseless in Hawaii
Sarah Soakai, MURP (Masters in Urban and Regional Planning), University of California at Los Angeles – Luskin School of Public Affairs; Susan Nakaoka, PhD, University of Hawaii at Manoa


Invited Symposia: The Grandest Challenge: Unearthing the Deep Roots of Social Problems

Session 1: Session 1: Excavating Constructs for Grand Challenges: Unearthing White Supremacy, Neoliberal Racism, and Neocolonialism  

Friday, January 12, 2018: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM

Capitol (ML4) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)

Speakers: Sean Joe, Laina Bay-Cheng, & Debora Ortega

Chair: Edwina Uehara


Session 2: Building Authentic Alliances: Addressing the Denial and Significance of Race, Whiteness, Gender, and Indigeneity in Research Partnerships

Saturday, January 13, 2018: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM

Capitol (ML4) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)

Speakers: Bonnie Duran, Roberto Orellana, Darrell Wheeler, & Tessa Evans-Campbell

Chair: Susan Kemp


Session 3: Decolonizing Research: Generating Community-Grounded Inquiry

Saturday, January 13, 2018: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM

Capitol (ML4) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)

Speakers: Waldo Johnson, Michael Lindsey, Michael Spencer, & Laura Wernick

Chair: Karina Walters



Relevant Special Interest Group


Close the health gap (Grand Challenge) (Marquis BR Salon 12 (ML 2)) 
Michael Spencer, PhD and Karina Walters, PhD 



MLK Jr. Holiday Events

January 15th 2018

“The Other Detroit”  Urban and Regional Planning Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium 
Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning, 2000 Bonisteel Blvd, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Thursday January 11, 20186:00pm-7:30pmrefreshments to follow 
Please join us for a panel discussion followed by refreshments and networking to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

In his speech, The Other America, Martin Luther King Jr. laments that “every city in our country has this kind of dualism, this schizophrenia, split 

​into​ so many parts, and so every city ends up being two cities rather than one.” In some ways, the trajectory of contemporary development in Detroit is indeed creating this tale of two cities to which King alluded. Our panel will discuss the implications of unequal development patterns in Detroit and explore community-based strategies for redirecting investment in favor of the city’s most disadvantaged, longstanding residents.
Monique Becker, Development Associate, The Platform
Sonya Mays, President and CEO, Develop Detroit
Sarida Scott, Executive Director, Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD)
Kim Sherobbi, Community Practitioner, James & Grace Lee Boggs Center 
Marc Norman, Associate Professor of Practice, Taubman College 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Taubman College

Rackham Graduate School Faculty Allies
Taubman College Urban and Regional Planning Department

Michigan Community Scholars Program Presents: MLK Circle of Unity

On January 15th, 2018 from 3-4 PM at the University of Michigan Diag. Join hundreds of University and community participants for this annual event celebrating the life of Dr. King and his legacy of racial justice, nonviolence, and unity. There will be performances from students, organizations, and community members. All are welcome: students, staff, faculty, families, and children, as the audience is encouraged to participate as we honor Martin Luther King Jr. through song, dance, and spoken word. The Michigan Community Scholars Program and event co-sponsors from across the university hope to celebrate MLK and his legacy with the community at our 12th Annual Circle of Unity. More details can be found in the flyer and press release attached below.

The co-sponsors for the event include: the Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs Office (MESA), Spectrum Center, Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), Ginsberg Center, University Housing – Diversity and Inclusion, Program on Intergroup Relations (IGR), the LSA Honors Program,  Health Science Scholars Program (HSSP),  Women in Science and Engineering Residence Program, Michigan Research Community, The Residential College, Comprehensive Studies Program, Global Studies Program, Lloyd Hall Scholars Program, and University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA)



Innovative programs for youth and young adults 

w/ Broderick Johnson, Luke Shaefer, and Brian Jacob

Monday, January 15 
12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Annenberg Auditorium, 1120 Weill Hall

Free and open to the public. Lunch will be served starting 11:30 a.m. 

This event will be live webstreamed. Please check the event page just before the event for viewing details.

About the event:

In celebration of Martin Luther King Day, the Ford School will host a panel discussion of the importance of investments in youth and young adults, with participation from national and university experts. Broderick Johnson, former Obama Administration Cabinet Secretary, will speak of his work mentoring young men of color to help them reach their full potential through the White House’s My Brothers Keeper Task Force. Luke Shaefer, Director of Poverty Solutions, will discuss a summer employment program for marginalized youth launched in summer 2017. Brian Jacob, Co-Director of the Youth Policy Lab, will speak about the Grow Detroit’s Young Talent program which launched in early 2017.

About the speakers:

Broderick Johnson, former Obama Administration Cabinet Secretary, and Chair of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force

Brian Jacob, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Education Policy; Professor of Public Policy; Professor of Economics; Professor of Education

Luke Shaefer, Associate Professor and Director, Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan

For more information, please visit

Erin Flores (she/her)
Administrative Assistant
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
University of Michigan

Microaggressions and Social Work Education

The second of two special issues on microaggressions and social work has been released online through the Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work (JECDSW). You can find the articles at the journal’s website or click here.  Be sure to also check out my guest editorial. This special issue presents the experiences of students and faculty in social work with microaggressions.  The issue also provides strategies for addressing microaggressions in the classroom and how to teach students about the topic of microaggressions.  Thank you to JECDSW and Editor in Chief, Professor Mo-Yee Lee, for the opportunity to Guest Editor two issues of the journal.  Thank you as well to the authors for their contributions and patience during this process.

Teaching Diversity and Social Justice

This semester, I had the pleasure of teaching two required sections of SW 504 Diversity and Social Justice at the University of Michigan.  The course was one that I had a major hand in creating and one that I had attempted to create for at least 15 years.  This course in needed in social work education, as it provides a depth of understanding that mere integration of this content into existing courses cannot provide.  In social work, students take two required courses in research, yet very few actually go on to do research.  They take two courses in policy, yet this is often not a major part of their practice.  Yet, until a couple of years ago, there was no required course in diversity and social justice, even though every social worker will encounter diverse populations and most have no idea of how to deal with them when they do.  Although I had hoped to teach the course after it was created, my sabbatical and leave of absence prevented me from doing so until now.  While there are many things I might have done differently, I feel the course was a success and that students benefited from their learning.

Today was supposed to be the last day of class for my two sections, but 5 inches of snowfall led me to cancel the class.  Safety first, as I know many commute.  Also, it was my understanding that most would just be coming for my class, as most other courses for this day were already completed.  And finally, I had planned a final reflection and celebration, which would have been an excellent way to end the course, but not critical enough to endanger students.  Thus, in lieu of our in class reflection, I will reflect here on my blog.

We began the course by building relationships and community within the classroom.  Using liberation and decolonizing pedagogy, we acquitted ourselves as teachers and learners in the class.  We called upon the spirit of loved ones to enter the space to share in our learning and growth.  We learned about our differences and found common ground among our intersectional identities.  We reviewed terms related to oppression, power, and privilege.  We challenged ourselves to think critically about these terms as they relate to our personal and professional lives through classroom discussions and our blogs.  We then entered a hybrid portion where students engaged in self-study and developed their plans for their final projects.  Upon returning to the in person portion of the class, we discussed how we can take the concepts we’ve learned and apply them to our practice as social workers.

Throughout the course, my main objective was to empower my students as adult learners, as diversity and social justice are life long learning goals, not just a course requirement for graduation.  I challenged them to strive for excellence and to be leaders in this area.  I believe they possess the tools for this, through not only my course, but through the MSW program in its entirety.  I challenged my students to have an analysis and not be complacent.  We will all make mistakes and in some cases, we will choose not to act when it results in a loss of privilege.  We all do this everyday for that is the insidiousness of oppression, but we must at least have an analysis.  We need to understand that with this inaction, we maintain systems of oppression and the dominant narrative that subjugates those without power.  We learned about non-violent action and resistance and how this can be used effectively in dialogue to interrupt oppression.  We also discussed the use of popular education and was able to identify how they can be applied through our own experiences in the class.

My students were awesome.  Many of them took on the challenge that I presented to them and far exceeded normal expectations.  Others were quiet but attentive to their task and did outstanding work.  There were very few naysayers, although these individuals are usually difficult to identify if they do not speak up.  However, I believe the environment I created left a space open for disagreement and introspection when there was not full agreement.  The blogs were largely outstanding.  After the first few weeks, I challenged students to dig deeper into their analysis and not simply regurgitate the main themes from the readings.  As time went on, this was accomplished and the blogs became a learning tool not only for the authors, but also for the readers.  My intent is that students will ultimately publish their blogs publicly so that they can share their learning with others.  I am not sure how many will do so, but my hope is that everyone does so.  This in and of itself is a form of action.

What would I have changed from this semester?  First, the hybrid online portion was experimental.  I had previously taught a full asynchronous course on a similar topic that was extremely well received, but thought that it would benefit from an in-class presence.  That led to this hybrid model.  I believe that students benefitted from the hybrid portion, even if it meant that they were given extra time to work on projects, other courses, or just attend to life, which we forget about in graduate education.  My courses also tend to be intense, as I bring a lot of passion to the classroom, so the hybrid portion also gave them time to process and take a step back from Prof. Mike and spend some time with their own thoughts.  At the same time, I believe that we lost a certain level of engagement from some students.  I noticed some blogs were not as deep and I had no way of gauging whether students who were not blogging that week had done anything for the course.  I also felt a bit of distance due to my own lack of engagement.  In the future, I would probably have all students blog during the hybrid portion and I would commit to blogging or vlogging (video blog) each week as well.

We used Mullally’s (2010) Challenging Oppression and Confronting Privilege:  A Critical Social Work Approach as our main text.  While I had heard that some students found it to be dry, I originally thought that this would be a common text for all SW 504 classes, so I used it.  To my surprise, the book was very well written and covered the major content of the course in a succinct but comprehensive manner.  Was it dry?  I wouldn’t say so, although some students may disagree.  I found it to be rather engaging for a graduate text and quite easy to understand.  Would I use it again?  Likely so.  Suggestions for other texts are welcomed!  There was one major problem with the book and that was finding it for sale online.  Some students were not able to obtain a copy until mid-semester, which is unacceptable.  I will need to make sure that students can obtain enough copies in the future.

Finally, with regard to my own style and my learning.  I love to teach and love to see transformative learning in the classroom.  I use lecture, popular education, experiential learning, and media to convey the materials.  However, most of all, I use myself as a tool for learning.  I make visible my own self reflection and critical analysis of my actions and inactions.  I attempt to model for students the kind of transformative learning I hope they see in themselves.  With this style, it is almost impossible for me not to learn along with my students.  I feel this style has been effective for me, although I do know that it takes a bit more energy and emotion from me to deliver.  Some may believe that emotion does not have a role in an objective classroom.  I beg to differ.  This content is so loaded with emotion that to ignore it would only reinforce the norms of silence around these issues.  It takes a lot out of me, but it provides so much more than just listing concepts.  While it may not be the best style for all students, it works for me and I believe the majority of those how take my courses.

A last word to my students this semester.  Thank you for your patience, your enthusiasm, and your presence in the class.  It has been a while since I have been back to teaching full time and you made this experience so positive and fulfilling for me.  Despite the confidence I may project, I am my worse critic and had many doubts about how life would be back in the classroom.  In many ways, you reinforced in me the critical importance of this course in our curriculum and my confidence in conveying this material.  You engaged with one another with civility and respect.  You realized the richness that your classmates brought and embraced them.  In the coming years as you enter our profession, I wish for you courage to take risks and grow from any mistakes.  I challenge you to interrupt oppression at the individual, organizational, and systemic levels to the best of your ability.  I hope that we will stay in touch and that even though I’ll be on the west coast next year, you will seek me out as a trusted colleague when you need me.  We will forever to tied to this class and our learning.  Imua (forward)!

Mahalo and aloha!