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First Nations and Indigenous Studies

Terminology Resources

"Aboriginal peoples in Canada self-identify and are defined by the state [...] these two systems of definition, one based in law and legislation, the other in family tradition and community practice, are frequently in conflict." (From Indigenous Foundations).

Terminology Guides for Journalists and Broadcasters

"If you are unsure about names and terms, ask the Aboriginal people you’re reporting on which term they prefer." (From Reporting in Indigenous Communities).

Search Tip

When searching for information using the UBC Library Catalogue, Summon, or databases, remember that names of Indigenous nations and languages often change over time and spellings may vary. You may need to conduct multiple searches using a variety of search terms to find information about a particular Indigenous nation or language.

Changes Over Time

  • Names of languages change over time and also vary by different groups and academic disciplines.
    For example: Dane-zaa Záágéʔ is also called the Beaver language.
    For example: Dakelh is also called the Carrier language.
  • Names of dialects also vary.
    For example: Plains Cree is also known as the Y-dialect or Nehiyawewin.

Spelling Variations

  • Consider spelling variations, especially for languages that have had multiple (or no) written systems.
  • Classification systems in libraries and archives might use different spellings and ordering systems.
    For example: Stó:lō, Stó:lô, Stó:lõ, Stahlo, Staulo, Stolo, Stohlo, Sto:lo (group of people)
    For example: Tsuut’ina, Sarcee, Sarsi, Tsuu T’ina, Tsu T’ina, Tsúùtínà (language)

The First Peoples' Language Map of British Columbia maintains a First Nations Index, which includes current and other names of nations, and a Language Index, which includes current and other names of languages.