Answered By: Theresa Bell
Last Updated: Aug 15, 2019     Views: 74

The APA Style rules currently don't provide specific direction on how to cite Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers beyond treating the information as personal communication. In the spirit of reconciliation, Lorisia MacLeod, who is an Indigenous scholar and instruction librarian at NorQuest College Library (Edmonton, Alberta), developed approaches to cite Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers that allow authors to provide both an in-text citation and a reference. Ms. MacLeod worked with NorQuest College's Elder in Residence and the staff of the Indigenous Student Center to develop the approaches.

With approval from Asma-na-hi Antoine, Indigenous Education and Student Services Manager at RRU, RRU community members are encouraged to use the following approaches:


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


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

In-text citation

Delores Cardinal (2004) described the nature of the place as... .


The nature of the place was... (Cardinal, 2004).

Reminder: If you would like to approach an Elder or Knowledge Keeper for teachings, remember to follow protocol. If you are unsure what their protocol is, please ask them ahead of time. Some teachings are sacred and not all traditional teachings should be shared outside the community. If you have been welcomed into a First Nations’ community, ask for permission from the appropriate individual to share knowledge versus assuming all knowledge is open to everyone.

Ms. MacLeod generously provided permission for this information to be shared with the RRU community, and it is with gratitude that we do so here. To view NorQuest College Library's original version, please see the "Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers" tabs in Miscellaneous and In-text Citation Examples.