It is regrettable that style manuals do not include specific guidelines for citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers. Authors are instructed by both the APA and MLA manuals to cite such exchanges as personal communication for which there must be an in-text citation but not an entry on the Reference page. This demeans the importance of oral contributions and excludes vital information such as the Nation/community of the Elder and treaty territory when applicable.
Citing indigenous knowledge as personal communication is inherently problematic. By APA definition (BU doesn’t use MLA), personal communications are not retrievable and puts them on par with texts, emails and telephone calls. Retrievable in this sense is defined by Western tradition such as a recording.
In 2021, Lorisia MacLeod, a librarian from the James Cree Nation library, introduced templates for citing Indigenous knowledge in APA and MLA style. These templates were created in partnership with the NorQuest Indigenous Student Centre to fully recognize Indigenous Knowledge which historically has been subjugated to Western thought and science.
The template along with an example has been added to the APA module in Write & Cite. We encourage you to use it as appropriate. For additional information, see this interview with MacLeod and also her project report, More than Personal Communication: Templates for Citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge. Keepers. If you have any questions, please contact the library, email@example.com.
It is time that Indigenous wisdom was recognized in Western science!
Yes! Please help us spread the word about the templates.