Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Morris, Teresa


The focus of this project was on county and tribal professionals’ views on effective social work engagement with tribal communities in a large rural county located in central California. The importance of this topic is recognized by existing literature, as well as by the findings of this study, which indicate that Native Americans are an understudied group that have unique cultural, historical and service based needs. Additionally, the NASW Code of Ethics (2017) endorses social work practice, research, policies and programs that are attentive to different cultures and that challenge social injustices. The findings of this research project support these ethical considerations and shows that engagement with Native American communities necessitates a sensitive, thoughtful, patient and transparent approach based on the generational traumas, oppressions and stigmas that this group has experienced. This study utilized a qualitative and trauma-informed approach through personal interviews and two final group member check-in meetings to develop a shared understanding of the research focus, as well as to attempt to develop an action plan by the participants moving forward to address the problem. The major categories that developed included 1) Historical and Cultural Factors, 2) Needs of the Community, 3) Engagement Skills, 4) Barriers to Engagement and 5) Family and Community Systems. The data that was gathered through this research can help inform social work practice on both the micro and macro levels by leading to more effective engagement with Native Americans through the identification of factors that obstruct and facilitate service engagement in direct practice, as well as through well-structured remedial services, and key agency policies and procedures. While potential action plans were identified by participants to address the research focus, no formal action plans were developed by the group at the time of this report. Nonetheless, the research itself was important because it led to in-depth dialogue, built professional relationships within the community and increased knowledge of the topic.

Included in

Social Work Commons