Doin’ The Work: Frontline Stories of Social Change

Creating Culturally Safe Spaces for Indigenous Populations - Turquoise Skye Devereaux, MSW

November 14, 2022

Episode 59
Guest: Turquoise Skye Devereaux, MSW
Host: Shimon Cohen, LCSW
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We are now offering our Racial Justice & Liberatory Practice Continuing Education Series at Columbia University, Michigan State University, and the University of Houston. Join us!

Thank you to this episode’s sponsor! The University of Houston has a phenomenal social work program that offers face-to-face master's and doctorate degrees, as well as an online and hybrid MSW. They offer one of the country’s only Political Social Work programs and an Abolitionist Focused Learning Opportunity. Located in the heart of Houston, the program is guided by their bold vision to achieve social, racial, economic, and political justice, local to global. In the classroom and through research, they are committed to challenging systems and reimagining ways to achieve justice and liberation. Go to to learn more.

In this episode, I talk with Turquoise Skye Devereaux, a member of the Salish and Blackfeet Tribes of Montana, owner of the consulting company Indigenous Skye, LLC, where she does a range of trainings, workshops, and speaking focused on creating culturally safe spaces for Indigenous populations as well as work with Indigenous youth and tribal communities. She also works in higher education in retention of Native students and is a PhD student in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University. Turquoise talks about colonial systems and the four stages of colonization, as well as systemic racism and oppression, and specific ways education and social work have caused–and continue to cause–harm to Indigenous Peoples and other marginalized groups. We get into how cultural competency is a myth based in a Westernized, colonial mentality, and how it does more harm than good. Turquoise explains differences between Indigenous and Westernized worldviews and ways of living. She shares ways to create cultural safe spaces for Indigenous populations, providing examples from her own life, as well as interviews she has done with Indigenous students, in terms of ways they did not feel included in school systems, and how professors, administrators, and staff made a difference–and can make a difference–in creating safety, equity, and inclusion. I hope this conversation inspires you to action.

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