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APA Citation and Formatting: Indigenous Sources

Thank You!

Library staff extend our sincere thanks to Deiana Gonyea from the Loyalist College Indigenous Resource Centre for her feedback and guidance on citing Indigenous sources.

Citing Indigenous Sources

The cover of a book titled, “The Sockeye Mother”. The author is listed as Hetxw'ms Gyetxw, with the name Brett D. Hudson in brackets. A blue arrow points to the author’s name.

  • If an author lists an Indigenous name only, list the name as it appears. It is important to remember that although names may be in more than one part, both parts may make up a first name, and there may be no surname. Using the example above, if no English name appeared, the author would be listed as, Hetxw'ms Gyetxw.
  • If an author lists an Indigenous name followed by an English name, list the Indigenous name as it appears, followed by the English name in square brackets, with the surname appearing first, followed by the first initial(s). Using the example above, the author would be listed as, Hetxw'ms Gyetxw [Hudson, B.D.]. 
  • If an author lists an English name followed by an Indigenous name, list the English name with the surname appearing first, followed by the first initial(s), and the the Indigenous name as it appears in square brackets.

The cover of a book titled, “nîhithaw âcimowina”. The Cree title appears next, written in the Cree alphabet. The translation of the title, “Woods Cree Stories”, appears third.

  • List the title as it appears. If a title appears in two languages, list the languages in the order in which they appear, separated by a colon. If the title appears in an alphabet not available in a word processing program, it may be omitted. Using the example above, the title would be listed as, nîhithaw âcimowina: Woods Cree Stories. 
  • Do not change punctuation or capitalization of Indigenous words; record words as they appear.

According to the Publication Manual, the method of citing Oral Traditions and Traditional Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples varies depending on whether the information has been recorded, and if so, how (8.9):

  • In select cases, this information can be cited using a variation of the personal communication citation. More information on this can be found under the How Do I Cite . . .? tab.
  • If the information has been recorded and is retrievable by readers, e.g., on video or audio, or printed in an interview transcript, book, or article, it is cited in the text and a reference list entry is created in the correct format for the resource type.
  • If the information has not been recorded and is not retrievable by readers, e.g., in the case of an oral teaching, APA Style recommends creating an in-text citation with as much information as is necessary to describe the content and to contextualize the information. Because the information cannot be retrieved by the reader, no reference list entry is used.
  • If information was provided directly by an Indigenous person, APA Style recommends using a variation of the personal communication citation. Provide the person's full name, the specific Indigenous group or nation to which they belong, if that information is available, and the date of the communication, e.g.: "We spoke to Diana Cardinal (Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Ontario, personal communication, November 2019) about . . . ". Alternately, writers can use signal phrases to provide the information, e.g.: "We spoke to Diana Cardinal, of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, about . . . ". It is important to confirm that the person agrees to have their name included, and that they confirm the accuracy and appropriateness of the information being shared.
  • For Indigenous writers who are sharing their personal experiences or the Oral Traditions and Traditional Knowledge of their people, APA Style recommends that the writer describe themselves in the text, e.g., their nation or where they live, to contextualize the information. This can be done using signal phrases. A personal communication citation and reference list entry are not required in this instance. 

There are additional resources available that focus on citing traditional knowledge. In her article "More Than Personal Communication: Templates for Citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers", Lorisia MacLeod (James Smith Cree Nation) introduces citation templates for Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers that MacLeod created in partnership with the staff of the NorQuest Indigenous Student Centre. MacLeod recommends the following citation format:

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.

A link to the full text of MacLeod's article appears on this guide under the "Additional Resources" tab.

Resources @ Loyalist College

Please Note!

This guide is based on the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed. (2020). Library staff have reviewed the information in this guide, and to the best of our knowledge, it is accurate. However, mistakes do occur. Students bear sole responsibility for ensuring that their citations are correct, and that their assignments meet the criteria laid out by their instructor. Students are encouraged to contact Peer Tutoring or the Writing Clinic for assistance.