Society of Indian Psychologists

The Society of Indian Psychologists (SIP) is a formal professional organization of American Indian, Alaskan Native, and non-Native psychologists, as well as other affiliated professionals, whose purpose is to promote and improve the psychological health and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Additionally, SIP advocates for the development and application of culturally competent and relevant psychological theory, research, education, and clinical practice with American Indian and Alaskan Native peoples.

Through biannual meetings, Internet listservs, and other venues, the society provides a forum for professionals who share these collective concerns to consult with one another. SIP also serves as a network for American Indian and Alaskan Native professionals. This network provides opportunities for professional development, advisement, mentorship, and sharing of knowledge, experience, and skills for American Indian and Alaskan Native psychological professionals and others who work with indigenous communities.

Beginnings

The precursor to SIP was an informal group of newsletter subscribers, persons interested in sharing information about psychological services then available in indigenous communities. The newsletter, called Network of Indian Psychologists, was founded in 1970 and solely administered by Carolyn Attneave (Delaware/Lenni Lenape), an internationally renowned American Indian psychologist. Five years later, SIP was formally established as a professional organization for American Indian and Alaskan Native psychologists. Today, with a membership of more than 300 professionals, SIP continues to honor Attneave’s revolutionary work through sponsoring a memorial scholarship fund in her name.

Policy Making

SIP is one of five national ethnic minority psychological associations; other such organizations include the Association of Black Psychologists, Asian American Psychological Association, National Latina/o Psychological Association, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues (Division 45) of the American Psychological Association. Together, these organizations constitute the Council of National Psychological Associations for the Advancement of Ethnic Minority Interests.

In 1999, SIP proposed a resolution that supported the retirement of all Indian mascots, personalities, images, and other symbols in use within schools, colleges, universities, and athletic teams in the United States. In 2005, the highest governing body of the American Psychological Association, the Council of Representatives, adopted a similar resolution that recommended immediate retirement of American Indian mascots within educational institutions, athletic teams, and organizations. Both resolutions were based on concerns about the ethical practice of psychology within these contexts as well as psychological research that had demonstrated harmful and negative effects of the use of Indian mascots and other symbols on American Indian children, communities, and students.

References:

  1. Fryberg, S. (2001). Really! You don’t look like an American Indian. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA.
  2. LaFromboise, T. D., & Trimble, J. E. (1996). Obituary: Carolyn Lewis Attneave (1920-1992). American Psychologist, 51, 549.
  3. Peregoy, J. J., & Gloria, A. M. (2007). American Indians and Alaskan Native populations. In M. G. Constantine (Ed.), Clinical practice with people of color: A guide to becoming culturally competent (pp. 61-84). New York: Teachers College Press.
  4. Society of Indian Psychologists: http://www.aiansip.org/

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