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APA Style (Seventh edition): Citing Traditional Knowledge or Oral Traditions of Indigenous Peoples

This guide will assist students in learning APA style and applying it when writing and formatting papers and other course assignments.

Citing Traditional Knowledge

How you cite Traditional Knowledge or Oral Traditions of Indigenous Peoples depends on whether and how the information has been recorded. Examine published works carefully (especially older works) to ensure that the information about Indigenous Peoples is accurate and appropriate to share before citing.


Some stories are told only at certain times of year or by certain people and may not be appropriate to share/cite.

If you are unsure, contact an Indigenous educator or advisor for guidance.



American Psychological Association. (2020). Secondary sources.

Recorded Sources

If the information has been recorded, then cite it in text and include a reference list entry in the correct format.


In Text

(Chacaby & Plummer, 2016)

Reference Entry

Chacaby, M., & Plummer, M. L. (2016). A two-spirit journey: The autobiography of a lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder. University of Manitoba Press.


In Text

(Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, n.d.)

Reference Entry

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (n.d.). Residential school locations.


In Text

(LeMay Media, 2016)

Reference Entry

LeMay Media. (Producer). (2016). The history of treaties in Canada [Video]. Films on Demand.

Journal Article

In Text

(Robinson, 2013)

Reference Entry

Robinson, M. (2013). Veganism and Mi’kmaq legends. The Canadian Journal of Native Studies, 33(1), 189-196.

Non Recorded Sources

To describe Traditional Knowledge or Oral Traditions that are not recorded (and therefore are not recoverable by readers), provide as much detail in the in-text citation as is necessary to describe the content and origin of the information. Ensure that the person agrees to have their name and information included in your paper and confirms the accuracy and appropriateness of the information you present.


Provide the person’s full name and the nation or specific Indigenous group to which they belong, as well as their location or other details about them as relevant, followed by the words “personal communication,” and the date of the communication.


Provide an exact date of correspondence if available; if correspondence took place over a period, provide a more general date or a range of dates. The date refers to when you consulted with the person.


We spoke with Anna Grant (Haida Nation, lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, personal communication, April 2019) about traditional understandings of the world by First Nations Peoples in Canada. She described . . .


Capitalize most terms related to Indigenous Peoples. These include names of specific groups (e.g., Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Cherokee, Cree, Ojibwe) and words related to Indigenous culture (e.g., Creation, the Creator, Elder, Oral Tradition, Traditional Knowledge, Vision Quest). The capitalization is intentional and demonstrates respect for Indigenous perspectives.

Appropriate Use of Names

When writing about Indigenous Peoples, use the name that they call themselves. In general, refer to an Indigenous group as a “people” or “nation” rather than as a “tribe.” In Canada, refer to the Indigenous Peoples collectively as “Indigenous Peoples” or “Aboriginal Peoples”


International Journal of Indigenous Health

Specify the nation or people if possible


People of the First Nations of Canada, People of the First Nations, or First Nations People; Métis; Inuit