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APA Style Guide: Indigenous Sources

This guide is designed to help students learn about APA style and cite sources for their research.

Respectful Research

If your assignment includes information from an interview or personal communication with an Elder or Knowledge Keeper, ensure you have their permission to include their name and opinions in your paper.

If your interviewee prefers to use their Indigenous/traditional name, use this to replace the name (in-text) or last name and first initial (reference list).

Also, consider providing a copy of your finished paper to your interviewee.

For more information, see Respectful Research from Simon Fraser University.


Indigenous Guides - BCIT

BCcampus' Indigenization Professional Learning Series. These guides are the result of a collaboration between BCcampus and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

Pulling Together

How to cite Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers

Respectful research when speaking with Elders and Knowledge Keepers is sensitive. We are following other libraries' recommendations for templates and example citations as well as the APA manual,

Please watch this presentation on Decolonizing Citation by Bronwen McKie to understand the relationship between colonization and citations.

Citation Examples

The following examples are from, Referencing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers, created by Lorisia McLeod (James Smith Cree Nation) and NorQuest Elders, NorQuest College

Cite personal communications with Elders and Knowledge Keepers in both your in-text citations and in your reference list.

More than personal communication Citation templates for Elders and Knowledge Keepers.


Name of Elder/Knowledge Keeper with year of communication (Follow the same guidelines that you would use for a paraphrase or direct quote)


Delores Cardinal described the nature of the... (2018).
The nature of the place was... (Cardinal, 2018).


Last name, First initial., Nation/Community. Treaty Territory if applicable. Where they live if applicable. Topic/subject of communication if applicable. Personal communication. Month Date, Year.


Cardinal, D., Goodfish Lake Cree Nation. Treaty 6. Lives in Edmonton. Oral
        teaching. Personal communication. April 4, 2004.


Kwantlen Polytechnic University has provided information regarding protocol guidelines that are customary in Coast Salish traditions.

  • If you would like to approach an Elder or Knowledge Keeper for teachings, remember to always follow preferred protocols.
  • If you are unsure what protocols are being practiced, please ask them ahead of time.
  • Protocols often include how the Elder/Knowledge Keeper wishes to be known, how much of their information may be shared, and how much of their time they will gift you.
  • Provide the Elder/Knowledge Keeper with a copy of what you have produced.

You may also review the Authentic Engagement of First Nations and Metis Traditional Knowledge Keepers, prepared by the Wîcihitowin Conference Committee for further guidance.

Always be respectful and aware of the injustices that Elders/Knowledge Keepers may have lived. They may be reluctant to share their information after having had their information and knowledge taken from them without their consent.

Indigenous Information Literacy

Rachel Chong from Kwantlen Polytechnic University has prepared the Pressbook Indigenous Information Literacy. In it she discusses evaluating sources, and working with Elders/Knowledge Keepers.

Research Coach

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Christine Greffe
Library, room 3021
(705) 566-8101 ext.7669

Handouts and guides

Citing information from Traditional Knowledge or Oral Traditions of Indigenous Peoples

The manner of citing Traditional Knowledge or Oral Traditions (other terms are “Traditional Stories” and “Oral Histories”) of Indigenous Peoples varies depending on whether and how the information has been recorded—only certain cases use a variation of the personal communication citation.


American Psychological Association. (2023). Style grammar and guidelines.