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Indigenous Topics


  • Search Disclaimer
  • Terms and Definitions 
  • Why Does This Matter?
  • External University Research Guides

Please note, that you may need to include outdated, inappropriate, or problematic terms, like “Indian(s)” when searching for historical work. To view a list of current, proper terms, and their usage, please refer to the Terminology tab.

Recommended search strings for Indigenous topics:

  • "Indigenous Peoples" OR "Aboriginal Peoples" OR "Native Peoples" OR "First Nations" OR "Indians" 
  • "Inuit" OR "Eskimo" OR "Innu"
  • "Métis" or "Aboriginal Peoples"
Then, incorporate appropriate modifications for specialized emphasis:
  • Specific nation or Treaty names
  • Jurisdiction
  • Legislative terms

Users need to understand appropriate terminology while addressing Indigenous topics. Considering their historical usage, some terms may not be preferred by Indigenous communities but rather imposed on them by colonizers and maintained through wrongful use today. For example, “Indian” should only be used when referring to a person with status under the Indian Act as a legal term. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, “Indian” may appear when searching through select historical works concerning Indigenous topics, but this does not encourage everyday use. Users must understand the proper context of terminology to ensure they are taking a respectful approach to their dialogue, and when in doubt, just ask!

Please check out the provided links to the University of British Columbia, Queens University, and Simon Fraser University Indigenous terminology pages for more information.

External Research Guides

Queen's University - Terminology Guide

Queen's University offers a list of terminology often used within conversations on Indigenous topics. This guide provides definitions and contextualized examples of preferred terms, and terms to avoid. 

Simon Fraser University - Terminology Guide

Simon Fraser University has put together a comprehensive list of definitions relating to Indigenous topics and the language of reconciliation. At the end of the page, there is a short list of additional resources and strategies for searching a library database. 

University of British Columbia - Terminology Guide


The University of British Columbia has compiled a list of terms with definitions, and examples relating to Indigenous topics. This page emphasizes the importance of proper terminology when referring to FNMI people, nations, or topics, by considering the historical use of each term.