Answered By: Theresa Bell (she/her/hers)
Last Updated: Nov 04, 2021     Views: 2209

Lorisia MacLeod, James Smith Cree Nation, is an Indigenous scholar and instruction librarian who developed templates 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 templates.

Per the American Psychological Association's (2020) 7th edition rules, authors should cite recorded Traditional Knowledge per the appropriate approach for the resource (e.g., book, video) (p. 260) and treat all Traditional Knowledge that hasn't been recorded as personal communication (APA, 2020, p. 261). However, that approach is problematic because,

to use the template for personal communication is to place an Indigenous oral teaching on the same footing as a quick phone call, giving it only a short in-text citation (as is the standard with personal communication citations) while even tweets are given a reference citation. Some oral teachings have survived since time immemorial and deserve the same respect that we afford the great stories and minds of the Western world: a proper citation. (MacLeod, 2021, p. 2)

With approval from Asma-na-hi Antoine, Associate Director, Indigenous Engagement, 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 "Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers" in NorQuest College Library's APA Style 7th Edition guide. For other examples, please see the citations and references in the Four Feathers Writing Guide. For more information on the templates, please visit More Than Personal Communication:Templates for Citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers.


American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).

MacLeod, L. (2021). More than personal communication:Templates for citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers. KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies, 5(1).

NorQuest Library. (n.d.). In-text citation: Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers.

NorQuest Library. (n.d.). References: Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers.